Virgin Seat Reservation Chaos

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by snail, 11 Nov 2011.

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  1. snail

    snail Established Member

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    I boarded a Birmingham-Edinburgh Voyager earlier today. All the seat reservation screens were blank, no reservation slips at seats. The TM apologised for the 'technical problem' and advised passengers with seat reservations to find their booked seats and sit in them. He went on to say that people without seat reservations may have to move if they are in a reserved seat.

    Now I understand the frustration of having a reservation only to find when you get on the train it has become a free for all. But is the TM right in advising people without reservations to move? Without the at-seat displays there is no way I can know whether a seat is reserved; that could make the difference between having a seat for my journey or being forced to give it up and stand because all the other seats have been filled by the time the person with the reservation has claimed their seat.

    (As it happened, no one challenged me so I did stay seated throughout. It is the principle I am challenging.)
     
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  3. Bungle73

    Bungle73 On Moderation

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    I dont see what else could be done. I'd be mightily miffed if I had seat booked on a long journey and I got on the train only to find it already occupied by someone else due to a technical problem and they wouldn't move. Also is not a seat reservation part of the contract between the TOC and oneself?
     
  4. Squaddie

    Squaddie Established Member

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    This happened on the last two occasions I travelled with Virgin. On one occasion a train turned up with half the number of expected carriages and on the other the seat reservation system simply wasn't working. It caused a great deal of confusion, frustration and raised voices.

    I don't know what can be done in these instances. Clearly, someone who has a seat reservation should reasonably expect to have a seat upon boarding, but on a busy train it's unfair to move someone who had no way of knowing that their seat had been reserved by someone else. It's just another way in which the TOCs make train travel a miserable experience.
     
  5. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    On EMT's Liverpool - Norwich when there hasn't been time to put out the reservations, the guard generally tells passengers that the reservations aren't valid and "to sit anywhere".
     
  6. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Thats the way it normally works. No reservations then no claim to a seat.

    The one that makes me laugh is when a train is cancelled passengers say will this seat be reserved for me on the next train :lol:
     
  7. Squaddie

    Squaddie Established Member

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    Why is that such an unreasonable expectation?
     
  8. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Because it will be reserved by someone else...
     
    Last edited: 11 Nov 2011
  9. Sheepy1209

    Sheepy1209 Member

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    I've had this happen a couple of times and it's infuriating - it just makes no logical sense.

    The big issue with this approach for me is that very often the passenger with the reserved seat has paid LESS than those without reservations. Last time this happened I (and some colleagues) got to Euston early so we were first to board the train - only to be kicked out of our seats as we pulled out of the station. To be honest I find seat reservations (and lack of them when expected) just add stress to a journey.

    (Of 8 separate TPE journeys recently, only half had a) the right seat reservation and b) nobody sitting in the seat)
     
  10. jcollins

    jcollins Veteran Member

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    This happened to me a few weeks back on a Euston-Glasgow service. Every seat was showing available and it was difficult to find an alternative seat when there was someone else in my seat but no indication that is was reserved.

    I emailed Virgin about this because it's not the first time it has happened to me and I haven't had a response from them yet. I'm also still awaiting Northern claims from cancellations from a few weeks back. Is it the annual TOC customer relations holiday period or have there been so many problems that they've got mountains of correspondence to deal with?
     
  11. Bungle73

    Bungle73 On Moderation

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    People keep making that point when ever the subject of seat reservations comes up, when really it is irrelevant. It's entirely possible that someone sitting in FC has paid less than someone sitting in Standard; by that logic the former should give up his seat to the latter. Ridiculous.

    As far as I'm concerned if I have a seat reservation then that seat is mine. If others have paid a higher fare, but haven't reserved seats when reservations were available that's their look out.
     
    Last edited: 11 Nov 2011
  12. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    That option isn't available if you just turn up and go on the day, though.
     
  13. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    What is normally done is what else could be done!

    For the avoidance of doubt, what is nearly always done is that if there are no reservation labels/displays, then quite simply, there are no reservations.

    To me, the normal method is the only one that makes sense, and anything else is absurd and unworkable. The situation described by the OP is rare; though I have occasionally heard reports of it happening, I have not experienced it myself (thankfully!) out of many hundreds of journeys.

    snail - I suggest you write to Virgin Customer relations. Feel free to PM me the letter for proof reading. I would ask if the correct procedure was followed, and you could mention that the procedure that was followed caused unnecessary difficulties. I am sure, if you word it well, you will get a satisfactory response, as Virgin Customer relations are among the better ones, and I've got good responses for people before :)

    If anyone wants to discuss the general issue of whether the fare paid should matter in relation to seat reservations feel free to contribute to another topic specifically to discuss that issue.
     
  14. Bungle73

    Bungle73 On Moderation

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    You can reserve seat until 2 hours before the train departs. If you turn up at the last minute to buy a ticket for a long journey you're either got more money than sense, or (most probably) someone else is footing the bill.
    And what about the unnecessary difficulties caused to the person with the reservation had the TM made it a free-for-all in regards to seating? In my book the person with the reservation should get first dibs on seats, always. The person with the reservation has made an effort to ensure they have a seat. What's the person without done? Zlich.
     
  15. amcluesent

    amcluesent Member

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    Did peeps with Priv tickets give up their seats?
     
  16. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    In a normal scenario someone can find an unreserved seat and sit there for the duration of their journey. You are suggesting that an acceptable scenario if the reservation system is down, that someone doing Edinburgh to Penzance, has to swap to another seat at Berwick, Newcastle, Darlington, York and so on. I cannot accept that.

    The idea that someone has to vacate a seat that appears to be unreserved and there is no way of knowing that it is reserved, at any station along the line, is not acceptable in my opinion.

    All the TOCs I commonly use appear to use the common sense approach of simply stating there are no reservations. It's not uncommon on TPE, and happens occasionally on East Coast.

    If Virgin do something differently, then I suggest that users of Virgin take it up with Customer Services, if enough people complain, they will fall into line with other TOCs.
     
  17. snail

    snail Established Member

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    It's the first time I have heard it on Virgin - normally the Train Manager apologises for not displaying reservations and that's it. I was thinking of emailing customer services, so I'll post their response.

    @Bungle73, Yorkie summed it up well in his last post. I could have been 'obliged' to change seats several times, presuming that is I could have found a seat on a busy Friday afternoon train. I may not have arranged a reservation in advance (because I didn't know what time I would be travelling) but having made the effort to board the train promptly I don't expect to be turfed out of what appears to be an available seat.
     
  18. IanD

    IanD Established Member

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    This happened to us on a VT journey from Euston to Edinburgh on the second leg (from Carlisle). We had four seat reservations but they were not showing in the carriage. We boarded to find two of the seats occupied and the TM was announcing that occupiers of reserved seats should move if requested by holders of the reservation. I didn't think it particularly fair but it's not easy to find 4 seats together on a packed train. However, in the block of four seats behind the seats we had reserved, there were 2 vacant seats in exactly the same positions as our occupied reserved seats. We politely asked the occupiers (who weren't travelling together) if they would consider moving so that we could sit together. The lady agreed without hesitation but the old bloke refused to budge and became quite abusive. In the end all the passengers around him and the train shop manager (who had left her post to see what the commation was about) convinced him to be reasonable and he grudginlgy moved to the seat behind but then we had to put up with him making very loud sarcastic comments for the rest of the journey. To add insult to injury, this bloke had also had a reserved seat which was empty when he boarded but he'd had an argument with his three travelling companions and had decided to sit elsewhere. His original seat remained empty all the way to Waverley.
     
  19. Bayum

    Bayum Established Member

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    So if an elderly couple have reserved a seat halfway along the journey for a seat - they're expected to give up their seat?
     
  20. Mcr Warrior

    Mcr Warrior Member

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    :( This happens quite often on Virgin Train services between Manchester and London Euston, usually the explanation is that the reservations information hasn't been properly downloaded. It can be problematic on busy trains.
     
  21. harz99

    harz99 Member

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    Reminds me of a jouney I made from GLC to EUS last December. We had reservations on the 1040 (?) departure as our inbound train from Stranraer wouldn't have allowed us sufficient time with luggage etc. to make the 0940 departure.

    As it was the atrocious weather saw the Stranraer departure unable to run via KMK, and in fact it arrived at GLC several minutes earlier than booked time after running via the coast line. The stock for the 0940 was still in the platform, so we boarded found unreserved seats and waited. After waiting for the TM to get over from EDB, we eventually left around 1040 anyway, with those pax from the 0940 and 1040 departures that had to travel filling about half the standard class seats. By then the reservations had been switched off.

    En route we lost further time, until arriving at Lancaster about 5 minutes before the time for what would have been the 1140 ex GLC. Virgin control in their infinite wisdom decided to hold us to run on the 1140s times - perfect sense given the weather etc.

    All was well until after the crew change at Preston. The relieiving TM announced the train as the 14xx from Preston etc. etc which it clearly wasn't. The result - heated arguments between pax who had already suffered a pretty awful journey and those boarding who were insistent they had reservations for the seats people were sitting in.

    This went on until after WNW by which time I'd gone to see the TM and tried as tactfully as I could to explain the problem. Resulting at WBQ, with him still announcing the (by now over two hours late) train as running on time, and also apologising for the lack of reservation and advising pax to find a seat and sit down.

    I have to agree that the only workable solution to no display or paper reservations is no seat reservations for anyone, at least everyone is in the same boat and whilst they may grumble (I know I would), that doesn't cause the friction that expecting people to move multiple times would.
     
  22. dcd

    dcd Member

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    This is not the case. I booked online 08:21 Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig at 21:30 the night before and got the message no reservations available. Enquiring at the station before travelling I was told you could not book after 18:00 the day before.
     
  23. bignosemac

    bignosemac Established Member

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    Two hours before the train departs its originating station, if seats are available. It's quite possible that when you attempted to make your online booking there were no more reservable seats available.
     
  24. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Apparently NRE now says 1600 the day before.
     
  25. dcd

    dcd Member

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    That's what I thought and why I asked at the station. I was hoping I would not have to stand for 5+ hours if it was full. As it happens there was plenty of room.
     
  26. Bungle73

    Bungle73 On Moderation

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    For early morning trains; you didn't read it properly.
     
  27. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    It has always been the case that reservations close at 1800 the day before. With the advent of electronic seat reservations it is now possible, in some circumstances, to reserve 2 hours before departure or with Cross Country even while the train is en route. This does not apply at all TOCs or on all routes. Paper seat reservations labels are often printed out en masse at the start of the day at some locations and for some of our morning trains they are printed out the evening before.


     
  28. Bungle73

    Bungle73 On Moderation

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    That's not what NRE says.
     
  29. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    I should add the word "traditionally" or "historically" here. It has traditionally / historically been the case that reservations close at 1800hrs the day before. At lots of locations I work to the labels are printed off hours before departure, as I said often en masse at the start of the day. In some cases this is to allow them to be taken by train to another location which does not have printing facilities.
     
  30. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Dont quite understand what you are saying.

    If there are no seat reservations placed then its a free for all. Should elderley/disabled passengers join then most decent passengers would immediatley vacate. Anyone else would just be told that there are no reservations & we are all in the same boat (train :lol:).
     
  31. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Chaos?
    That is not chaos, its probably one of the most trivial of all possible technical failures we could imagine. Carry on making a fuss about something like this and TOCs will start to take units out of service in case a passenger is distressed by the seating system being chaotic.
    Forced?
    Where does force come into it? Have you mistaken the very impressive self-organisational abilities of our society with a primitive prison work-camp?
    Stand?
    What do you think thousands of passengers are doing on trains every day of the week? Standing.
    Yes, its happened to me on several occassions. So I may change seat mid journey, I may stand for part of the journey. Then I get on with my day.

    There are some very serious difficulties in making the UK's railways operate smoothly, viably, reliably, competitively, safely and with longevity. But this simply isn't one of them.



    And it is certainly not 'chaos'.
     
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