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The Online Seat Selector



Flying in the 21st century means enjoying one of the greatest innovations in air travel: the online seat selector.  For the first time ever, you are invited to analyze (at your convenience, day or night) a precise seating chart and to select with absolute finality the exact seat you wish to deploy your buttocks upon several months in the future. It’s truly remarkable.

Never wanting to miss a perfect seat, I attempted to log in to the seat selector immediately after booking my upcoming flight to London. But Virgin Atlantic didn’t make it easy. You see, because I made the unknowingly poor choice of providing my middle name at the time of booking, my name (for the intents and purposes of Virgin Atlantic) would thenceforth be my first and middle names sandwiched together, without a space. In other words, if you happened to be Virgin Atlantic and we happened to be on a first name basis, you’d address me candidly as Stephencharles. (Yuck.)

I was not informed of my sudden name change, however, so when I attempted to use my normal first name (you know, the one I grew accustomed to over the last 20 years) when retrieving my booking on Virgin Atlantic’s website, I was presented with an ominous “Unable to retrieve booking. Please check your details”. So I did; I rechecked my flight number, triple-checked my confirmation number, checked both of them a few times more, all to no avail. I finally dug into Virgin Atlantic’s help pages and eventually found the explanation. Good riddance, but why did Virgin Atlantic bother creating the page to explain the faulted name-morphing system when they could have just left my first and middle names as they had been in the first place? Sighing, I entered “Stephencharles” into the first name text field and move on.

I love the online seat selector. I honestly do. But it does seem to bring out the nitpicker in me.  Suddenly, when presented with dozens of little seat-shaped icons scattered about the airplane map, the most inconsequential of things begin to matter a whole lot.

“Well I really prefer the right side of the plane,” I say, cursor hovering over seat 45H. But then, as you ready your finger to click, it occurs to you that the left side really isn’t so bad, especially when seat 46B is available and an entire row further from that blasted jet engine that kept me awake on my last flight.

With three or four seats still mentally nagging their unique advantages (this one is closer to the bathroom but this one is closer to the food cart), I finally accept that when all is said and done, I’ll just be getting on an airplane, sitting somewhere, then getting off in London. So I flipped a few coins and didn’t look back.

Affectionately know as the Airbus A340-300, this marvel of engineering will carry me to London in just over a week.



The BEST holidays

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