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

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by VT 390, 8 Dec 2019.

  1. DaveB10780

    DaveB10780 Member

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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?
     
  2. Goldfish62

    Goldfish62 Established Member

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    They seem to have relented as the latest on Twitter is that they're looking to see if they can reintroduce it.
     
  3. Vespa

    Vespa Member

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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 ?
     
  4. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    It's fine. And the chances are it'll be cheaper as well!
     
  5. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    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:
    :o
     
  6. jfollows

    jfollows Member

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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.
     
  7. LeylandLen

    LeylandLen Member

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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
     
  8. paddy1

    paddy1 Member

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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.
     
  9. LeylandLen

    LeylandLen Member

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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 .
     
  10. CrispyUK

    CrispyUK Member

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  11. Goldfish62

    Goldfish62 Established Member

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    They told me on Twitter that they're looking into bringing back the seat selector.
     
  12. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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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.
     
  13. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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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?
     
  14. Goldfish62

    Goldfish62 Established Member

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    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
     
  15. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    That process would appear to be full of pitfalls, unless they’re booking from the same quota it could become a nightmare.
     
    Last edited: 27 Dec 2019
  16. DJH1971

    DJH1971 Established Member

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    Looks like I will be using this rather than Avanti for my next trip to London.

    Added it to my favourites.

    Cheers.
     
  17. paddy1

    paddy1 Member

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    Noted with thanks. Hope they keep to it.
     
  18. jfollows

    jfollows Member

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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.
     
  19. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    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.
     
  20. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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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.
     
  21. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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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?
     
  22. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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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.
     
  23. LeylandLen

    LeylandLen Member

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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 !
     
  24. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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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
     
  25. LeylandLen

    LeylandLen Member

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    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 /?
     
  26. Fawkes Cat

    Fawkes Cat Member

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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?
     
  27. Wallsendmag

    Wallsendmag Established Member

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    If they are still using Trainline I would be very worried about those "bugs"
     
  28. trainophile

    trainophile Established Member

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    Perhaps they are going to go the way of TfW and others (at least with regard to Advances), and do away with seat reservations altogether.
     
  29. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Which I'm sure will be a popular move for the private car.
     
  30. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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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
    https://twitter.com/upperkingkenny/status/1211574184444346375
    https://twitter.com/KJensenClark/status/1207108994877263872
    https://twitter.com/Nataliedambro/status/1209061948622553088
    https://twitter.com/AJP52248484/status/1210969322253963264
    https://twitter.com/kingstontoon/status/1206083742160302080
    https://twitter.com/mattjames333/status/1204444247472181249
    https://twitter.com/SmithPeterScott/status/1204305029420789760
    https://twitter.com/adb62cat/status/1204132758899085314
    https://twitter.com/steggybhoy/status/1211689479242686464
    https://twitter.com/battybrummie/status/1211665720410550272
    https://twitter.com/actonepr/status/1210897499008966656
    https://twitter.com/NormanNormal12/status/1208724237898436613
    https://twitter.com/hannahh_tylerr/status/1205170072899215361
    https://twitter.com/hot5pur/status/1204079986002579457
    https://twitter.com/Helen231264/status/1203677566068051974
     

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