The American-JetBlue Alliance Can’t Even Assign Seats. Here’s The New Procedure.

A week ago I wrote about why codeshares are great for airlines, not customers, and why you should almost never book one. There are edge cases, but in general they’re a hassle – whether because you need to get rebooked due to a schedule change or even just have a seat assigned.

What prompted me to write about this is that American Airlines, despite its close alliance with JetBlue in the Northeast, is unable to assign seats on JetBlue flights.

Instead, agents get an error “Unable to retrieve Seat Map from Web Service”. At the time American offered its agents instructions on how to send a generic seat request (for aisle or window).

Only that wasn’t working so now there’s a new procedure: having American Airlines agents transfer customers over the phone to JetBlue to get their seats:

A warm handoff is better than just giving customers JetBlue’s phone number, to be sure. But the alliance clearly isn’t ready for prime time where customers are treated the same whether they’re flying American or JetBlue, or booking through either airline as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I don’t spend time the Northeast generally, so don’t fly JetBlue. What’s this about paying for advance seat assignment? How does that impact the codeshares?

  2. Yup, sounds about right- for oneworld codeshares it’s usually the same- get the other airline PNR from AA and then call the other airline directly. (BA is slightly better because you can at least do it on the BA website). What’s the situation with AA codeshares operated by AS?

  3. What’s the point of this alliance?
    I called the executive plat line
    Was told you earn no miles flying jet blue and no free luggage or seat assignments
    Or the ability to redeem miles for jet blue flights
    Have I been misinformed?

  4. JetBlue isn’t ready for prime time. Confused about who they want to be. OK for short trips, but IT isn’t up to the most menial tasks, and fails, often resulting in phone calls.

  5. I’m currently sitting on a BOS-TPA flight operated by JetBlue but sold by AA (with an AA flight number). I knew what I was getting into but purchased it through AA for the EQDs I need to keep my EP this year. Seats obviously can’t be selected on but neither can they be selected on because the record pulls up the AA flight number causing the JetBlue website to see it as an AA flight which they obviously don’t have access to. Even on checkin through the app (or the airport kiosk) seat selection isn’t possible. This issue, as well as some sort of mutual elite recognition needs to be addressed for this partnership to be more useful.

  6. The funniest part of this is that both American and JetBlue are hosted on the same reservation system, Sabre. Different partitions yes, but the fact that they don’t talk to each other within the same IT infrastructure should tell you all you need to know about how poorly this ‘alliance/partnership/whatever’ was implemented.

  7. JetBlue doesn’t even know how to get their own customers seats right. Anytime when there’s a JetBlue schedule change it suddenly lost all functionalities in Manage Trip page including seats/change/cancel. Everything. I have to text/call an agent to get my seats changed from that, and it wasn’t fun especially I had a schedule change into mint suite flight and they have so much trouble assigning me into a mint studio.

  8. Codeshare flights are ALWAYS a pain because (sometimes) airline computer systems don’t talk to one another and give travel agents/travelers the “real” record locator and seat assignment.

    We’re always having to call the other airline to get their locator and seat assignment.

    Another thing is that on codeshare flights you don’t check-in with the ticketed airline – but the airline that is operating the flight.

    So if you’re booked on an American flight number “operated by jetBlue” then you check-in with jetBlue (and not American) as jetBlue is the operating carrier.

    Be sure to check-in (online or in-person) with the operating carrier (B6) using THEIR record locator and NOT the (AA) record locator.

    Remember – AA record locators are always 6 letters. Other airline record locators may have a combination of 6 letters and numbers.

    Just some words of wisdom from a 35+ year travel agent.

  9. I absolutely LOVE JetBlue but I won’t be flying them after my next purchased flights are over. They are indeed wiping off services to 16 cities in the USA, which means that they will gladly sell you a sweet 6AM flight from Seattle or PDX, but then after you buy it announce that it is a now a red-eye leaving the next day. The website is a mess and repeatedly it wouldn’t let me purchase tickets and even demanded I use a different credit card than my VISA that I have used with them for years. The time tables are untrustworthy and when changes are made NO ONE contacts you. You don’t get emails or calls or text messages. I only discovered my flights had been butchered because I happened to log into to purchase more flights. To my horror I saw messages demanding I accept my flight had been been cancelled, and another changed. NO EMAILS, OR MESSAGES!

    And try to speak to a live person on the phone? The current wait (I kid you not) is over NINE HOURS LONG!

    JetBlue used to be wonderful, but, it is bad enough now and adding codeshares problems with AA is just going to mess things up further.

  10. So confusing. So now we book with American, but don’t earn mileage or get the benefit of free luggage? We always flew AA to New York, didn’t realize that it isn’t really AA,
    So now we have to check in at a completely different terminal with Jet Blue.
    Not happy about paying for luggage.

  11. The seat assignment is working now with AA JetBlue flight bookings with a work around. AA confirmation email contains a separate JetBlue booking code that can be used to enter manage booking section on their website to select seats (free and paid). I used some of my expiring AA credits to book JetBlue flights to JFK.

  12. Peter, I appreciate your update. I have a use it or lose it flight credit from AA and will be booking a AA flight on Jet Blue to JFK to catch a flight on Qatar. But was hesitant with the seat drama. Thank you

  13. It is so screwed up, I booked thru american and got put on jetblue. And jetblue reassigned our seats from row 1 and 2 to row 30. can’t even check in my minor grandson till I get to the airport. American had a seat for him and now who knows what is going to happen… waiting 80 minutes on phone to find out. we are flying tomorrow..

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