Why has Avanti West Coast got rid of the seat selector?

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DaveB10780

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Just looking at Trainsplit. About 50% of my journeys to London are Off Peak single into London and return first class Advanced. This is easily available on all booking sites but I cannot see a way to do this on Trainsplit since fare options seem to apply per journey. Am I missing something simple?
 
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Goldfish62

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First have probably tried to do things on the cheap and got rid of the seat selector (for example they don’t have one on their GWR booking site). There have been many complaints about this although they have said on Twitter that they currently have no plans to reintroduce it.
.
They seem to have relented as the latest on Twitter is that they're looking to see if they can reintroduce it.
 

Vespa

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They risk losing customers by taking away the option of seat selector, like myself I was a regular user of Virgin rail first class and have my seat preferences as I travel regularly to London, I don't want a windowless eat in a corner or next to the toilet etc.

I would decide not to use train to London and go somewhere else in my car instead like Wales or Lakes etc, we risk going back to the bad old days of British Rail where it was so customer unfriendly that it was easier to drive.

I've never used trainsplit, how well do the work with advance first class bookings ?
 

yorkie

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Just looking at Trainsplit. About 50% of my journeys to London are Off Peak single into London and return first class Advanced. This is easily available on all booking sites but I cannot see a way to do this on Trainsplit since fare options seem to apply per journey. Am I missing something simple?
At present it's not possible to specify that you want your outward portion to be flexible, and the return portion to be train specific (or vice-versa), nor is it possible to specify that you want standard in one direction and first in the other direction.

However I believe Trainsplit are aware that some people would like to see this feature, and hopefully it will be available one day.

In the meantime, for most journeys, there is nothing to be lost by doing two separate single searches. The exceptions are where the journey involves the half-price Off Peak Singles offered by Avanti and LNER that can only issued as part of a return journey.

In your particular circumstances you may be better booking with Avanti for now and accepting what seats you get. You could try calling them to change the seats, but this may be time consuming:
..Took 40 mins on phone the other day to get seats changed.
:o
 

jfollows

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My frequent ticket combination for a weekend trip to London has been a First Class Advance Wilmslow to London on a Friday coupled with a Saver Half return plus First Class upgrade for the return trip on Sunday. This used to be simple with the Virgin booking engine. I couldn't find a simple way of doing this with Trainsplit (however, I could select my seats) with my most recent purchase so instead booked a First Class Advance in both directions, because on this occasion I don't mind being limited to a particular train for my return journey, but if on future occasions I can't book the combination I used to use I will be disappointed and may not travel at all.
 

LeylandLen

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They use these words on the website ...

"Everything you loved about Virgin Trains is staying, but we’re also going to be making a few improvements of our own to make Avanti West Coast the best travel experience imaginable."

Not the case with seat selector ! Maybe one for whoever oversees such statements
 

paddy1

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Yes, I emailed Avanti about the ... 'Everything you loved about Virgin Trains is staying'... with reference to the seat selector no longer available, and am waiting for a reply. Hopefully lots of people will complain about this and it will coerce them into reintroducing it.

As an aside, I also referred to the ambiguity on their website about free drinks in First Class (on weekdays) as they make no mention of whether this includes alcohol, unlike Virgin who clearly set out what alcoholic drinks were part of the complimentary offer on weekdays.
 

LeylandLen

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Referring to 2 previous posts #67 #68 , I can understand why it might be difficult to incorporate seat selector , but I did find the seating plan and make up of Pendos and Voyagers useful. Is there a link to a site that shows seating plans ? If I would have known , I could have copied the seating plans on Virgin before the site went .
 

Goldfish62

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Yes, I emailed Avanti about the ... 'Everything you loved about Virgin Trains is staying'... with reference to the seat selector no longer available, and am waiting for a reply. Hopefully lots of people will complain about this and it will coerce them into reintroducing it.

As an aside, I also referred to the ambiguity on their website about free drinks in First Class (on weekdays) as they make no mention of whether this includes alcohol, unlike Virgin who clearly set out what alcoholic drinks were part of the complimentary offer on weekdays.
They told me on Twitter that they're looking into bringing back the seat selector.
 

ainsworth74

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I've been sent a retail brief by an informed source and the brief states that:

While the business looks into the options around reintroducing the seat picker, we've decided to introduce an interim process for our customers.
That 'interim process' is somewhat convoluted in my view but boils down to the following:
  • Customers email a dedicated email address for ammendments to their reservations.
  • The 'Customer Resolutions Centre' will pick these up. However as they lack 'appropriate' access to the booking system they'll cancel the original reservations and then create new ones in the journey planner (RJIS).
  • A screen shot of the new reservation will be sent to the customer.
  • Customers must retain their original reservations in case of train specific tickets.
So Avanti are looking at getting the seat selector back and in the mean time have come up with a temporary 'fix' to the problem.
 

Bletchleyite

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I must admit given how hidden away it is (you have to go through the whole process then change seats) I'm amazed how well-used it turns out it has been. I wonder did Avanti similarly get taken by surprise on this? Though I'd imagine the decidedly arrogant responses from their Twitterers on the subject in the first few days (rather than admitting being caught out) would not have helped.

Is cancelling reservations not going to cause issues for e-ticket users?
 

Goldfish62

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I've been sent a retail brief by an informed source and the brief states that:



That 'interim process' is somewhat convoluted in my view but boils down to the following:
  • Customers email a dedicated email address for ammendments to their reservations.
  • The 'Customer Resolutions Centre' will pick these up. However as they lack 'appropriate' access to the booking system they'll cancel the original reservations and then create new ones in the journey planner (RJIS).
  • A screen shot of the new reservation will be sent to the customer.
  • Customers must retain their original reservations in case of train specific tickets.
So Avanti are looking at getting the seat selector back and in the mean time have come up with a temporary 'fix' to the problem.
Well at least they've responded quickly to complaints and put something on place. What an absolute c*ck up removing it in the first place though!!! :D
 

jfollows

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Suspect when they tendered for booking engine they overlooked the importance of seat selection for long distance services. If it's not already been developed on the engine they are using then a hefty development cost is now been considered.
Lots of interesting comment since this post, of course.

But, it's a bad omen for the attitude of the people now operating (my) long-distance services.

Either they didn't understand that this was something Virgin had provided for years, that their new "customers" would expect to see under the new management, and were genuinely surprised to find this out.

Which I don't believe.

Or they had to come up with some sort of Web booking process and, either to save money or just lack of competence, decided that a seat booking facility wasn't necessary. Which they then seemed to bluff about once people started complaining. If they'd held up their hands at the start and apologised and said that it was something under development, that wouldn't have been so bad, but the impression I get is that their initial response was to say that it was an unnecessary facility (in their opinion). Well, I don't really think much of their opinions if so!

Virgin had an unjustly good reputation (in my opinion) for running trains but seemed to have a good approach to customer service, and based on what I've heard so far I'm unsure about the replacement operator's customer service approach.
 

yorkie

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Lots of interesting comment since this post, of course.

But, it's a bad omen for the attitude of the people now operating (my) long-distance services.

Either they didn't understand that this was something Virgin had provided for years, that their new "customers" would expect to see under the new management, and were genuinely surprised to find this out.

Which I don't believe.

Or they had to come up with some sort of Web booking process and, either to save money or just lack of competence, decided that a seat booking facility wasn't necessary. Which they then seemed to bluff about once people started complaining. If they'd held up their hands at the start and apologised and said that it was something under development, that wouldn't have been so bad, but the impression I get is that their initial response was to say that it was an unnecessary facility (in their opinion). Well, I don't really think much of their opinions if so!

Virgin had an unjustly good reputation (in my opinion) for running trains but seemed to have a good approach to customer service, and based on what I've heard so far I'm unsure about the replacement operator's customer service approach.
Yes it's a staggering decision that demonstrates the new company is out of touch.

Though I am keen for this thread to stay on the original topic of seat selection; we already have other threads to discuss Avanti more generally (and new threads can be created to cover anything not yet covered)

I can't see myself using Avanti's site even if they offered their own seat selection anyway now that Trainsplit offers this facility.
 

Hadders

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Avanti use Trainline for their web booking system as did Virgin so specifying a seat selector would presumably have been a very simple thing for Avanti to have done when establishing their commercial relationship with Trainline.

More relevant in that Avanti probably thought they could get away without a seat selector and save a bit of cash because fellow First Group operated franchise GWR has never had seat selector. I also wonder whether Avanti are playing silly buggers with seat positioning by not having a seat selector. We know there are a number of undesirable seats on Pendolinos with no view. What's the betting that these are the seats allocated exclusively to the cheapest tiers of Advance tickets? Or the seats that get allocated to sales through non Avanti booking sites?

The reality is that while First Group can get away without a seat selector with GWR because they've never had one, with Avanti this just won't wash. The number of complaints mean they will have to introduce one, probably at more cost than if they'd just specified it in the first place. Hopefully Trainsplit is doing good business out of Avanti not having a seat selector.
 

Paul Kelly

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Interesting responses above from jfollows and Hadders. I had been assuming the lack of seat selector was cock-up rather than conspiracy. But the repeated assertions by Avanti that they have no intention of introducing one, and the convoluted replacement process (which certainly seems designed to discourage its use by all but the most desperate passengers) are making me think: perhaps they are indeed intending to move away from assigning seats to passengers at the time of booking, and more particularly, maybe this is what they intend for HS2?
 

Hadders

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Surely it can't be that hard for Avanti to get Trainline to switch the seat selector functionality back on? The convoluted process for changing reserved seats is just ridiculous.
 

LeylandLen

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As I understand it from media , reports on here and talking to now ex-Virgin staff, a lot of management and people working for Virgin ( presumably those in customer relations ) transferred across from Virgin to Avanti , so therefore they would know how popular and useful seat selector was ? I know I never always got the seat I wanted between Preston/ Manchester and Euston but it was always useful to see where your seat was.,either aisle or window !
 

Wallsendmag

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As I understand it from media , reports on here and talking to now ex-Virgin staff, a lot of management and people working for Virgin ( presumably those in customer relations ) transferred across from Virgin to Avanti , so therefore they would know how popular and useful seat selector was ? I know I never always got the seat I wanted between Preston/ Manchester and Euston but it was always useful to see where your seat was.,either aisle or window !
I don’t know where you’ve been since the mid 90s but the vast majority of TOC staff TUPE across to the next franchise
 

LeylandLen

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I don’t know where you’ve been since the mid 90s but the vast majority of TOC staff TUPE across to the next franchise
Doing something called 'work' , was a Landlord, now retired . ! Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that if seat selector is/was useful with Virgin, why not transfer use it with Avanti /?
 

Fawkes Cat

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Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that if seat selector is/was useful with Virgin, why not transfer use it with Avanti /?
Cost.

A slightly more sophisticated answer is that providing a seat selector is a cost, but Avanti concluded that this cost would not be covered by the extra trade that providing the facility would bring. Going by the amount of noise there has been here, Avanti seem to have misjudged this point.

The implementation of the website seems to have been rushed anyhow. Surely the reservations system ignoring requests (airline v table, window v aisle) and not grouping multiple seat bookings together are bugs rather than features?
 

Wallsendmag

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Cost.

A slightly more sophisticated answer is that providing a seat selector is a cost, but Avanti concluded that this cost would not be covered by the extra trade that providing the facility would bring. Going by the amount of noise there has been here, Avanti seem to have misjudged this point.

The implementation of the website seems to have been rushed anyhow. Surely the reservations system ignoring requests (airline v table, window v aisle) and not grouping multiple seat bookings together are bugs rather than features?
If they are still using Trainline I would be very worried about those "bugs"
 

yorkie

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Avanti claim that seats match preferences where available but the evidence on Twitter suggests this is not the case.

I would therefore urge anyone who has a preference to ensure they use a seat selector.

Look at all this evidence; there is no way this isn't a major bug:

https://twitter.com/Laura_Wootten/status/1212374907025313793
@Laura_Wootten said:
And specifically requested a forward facing seat as hubby gets travel sick... but We’re deffo going backwards.
solid 0/2 so far
https://twitter.com/upperkingkenny/status/1211574184444346375
@upperkingkenny said:
I'm on the 9:15am Manchester Piccadilly to Euston. I requested a table seat, forward facing in a quiet carriage. I got a single seat, backwards facing in a standard carriage. Not exactly what I asked for.
https://twitter.com/KJensenClark/status/1207108994877263872
@KJensonClark said:
yesterday I used the new app and chose my preferences of: table, forward, window, power; and was assigned this seat: no table, backwards, aisle, no power, and stuck in quiet coach. Complete opposite to every single choice and total fail.
https://twitter.com/Nataliedambro/status/1209061948622553088
@Nataliedambro said:
can you please tell me why my seat preferences are never listened to when booking? I always ask for an aisle and always given a window despite the fact the aisle one next to me is available right now! Same when I ask for a table or quiet coach? Baffles me!
https://twitter.com/AJP52248484/status/1210969322253963264
@AJP52248484 said:
booked and reserved via your app. My preferences are forward facing aisle seat (near a plug). I'm in backward facing window seat (nowhere near a plug). I know it's just a preference and not guaranteed but 0/3. Used to be able to pick seats..
https://twitter.com/kingstontoon/status/1206083742160302080
@kingstontoon said:
That's all well and good, but the system will often ignore preferences....
https://twitter.com/mattjames333/status/1204444247472181249
@mattjames333 said:
why has the seat selector been disabled when booking tickets? Even when I gave my preferences (window) I was given an aisle seat.
https://twitter.com/SmithPeterScott/status/1204305029420789760
SmithPeterScott said:
Any way to select a specific seat when booking on line ? Just tried and default seat offered did not match preferences and no option to change.
https://twitter.com/adb62cat/status/1204132758899085314
@adb62cat said:
Hi. I have just booked two separate single journeys for travel in the next fortnight; selected ‘aisle’ and no other preferences. Both window seats reserved. Could you look at your algorithm, please?
https://twitter.com/steggybhoy/status/1211689479242686464
@steggybhoy said:
hi. My family and myself have just boarded your Glasgow to Euston train. We had reserved a table seat but the seats allocated to us are not table seats. Speaking to the on board staff we were informed that it was just a request not a guarantee. Is this correct?
https://twitter.com/battybrummie/status/1211665720410550272
@battybrummie said:
Can sadly say UNIMPRESSED both trains have been delayed Got on my train to go to Euston booked a table seat forward facing got a double seat backwards
https://twitter.com/actonepr/status/1210897499008966656
@actonepr said:
How do I change it? I have work to do on my return journey so need a table seat with a socket forward facing (which I had requested for this journey too!)
https://twitter.com/NormanNormal12/status/1208724237898436613
@NormanNormal12 said:
Drivel. This has been tested on 5 different trains on 5 dates in the future. The Reservation system shows reservable forward window table seats for these services yet when purchasing tickets on your site a random seat is assigned which fulfils none, some or all criteria.
https://twitter.com/hannahh_tylerr/status/1205170072899215361
@annahh_tylerr said:
I’ve just booked my first Avanti journey and not been given a table seat even though I requested one. I need the table seat for the plug socket. Is there any way you can change my seat selection please?
https://twitter.com/hot5pur/status/1204079986002579457
@hot5pur said:
I’ve booked a return Manchester - London journey today. Solo traveller and on both legs it’s put me on a table for 4. ...
https://twitter.com/Helen231264/status/1203677566068051974
@Helen231264 said:
Why not - Virgin was able to offer this service? Just tried a dummy booking. Requested a window table seat but didn’t get my request...
 
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