Seat Reservations

I have now managed to complete the majority of the seat and sleeper reservations for this years Summer travel 2009

In total 77 trains would be used with 15 either not requiring reservations or known to be unreservable
This leaves 62 reservations being required
In order to assist booking staff it was decided to split this into four batches
The first batch was completed with the ticket purchase, the second batch later the same evening, the third batch the following day, and the fourth batch one day later
This left one final batch, which would be reserved once the relevant seat plans or information was provided by the relevant passenger Train Company

The first stage was to obtain the seat plans that applied to the trains and then work out which seats would be suitable
When travelling I prefer a seat at a table of two seats, rather than a seat at a table of four seats or airline style
I also prefer sitting at the facing corner, so that there is a maximum view
However, for some train types this is not possible as the First Class seating area is either small or in the middle of the coach
For sleepers it is also known that the berths next to the toilets or above the bogies can be especially noisey
For these reasons it is best to make a short list in order of preference, so that if your first choice is already taken then you can work your way through them
In some cases, typically where there are less than 7 days before travel, you have to take what is available

First batch :
This was performed at Glasgow Central Travel Centre
This Travel Centre is operated by Virgin Trains
The staff are more than happy to assist with specific bookings, if you already have preferred seats just let the staff know before you start
On this visit the Sleeper Supplements were not applied; this is £40 for First Great Western and £43 for First ScotRail
Also, the First ScotRail £2.50 First Class sleeper refreshment vouchers were not issued, however as I had not been charged for the supplements I did not query this
The Customer adviser also experienced difficulty finding the First Class berths for First Great Western
It should be noted these sleeper are solo or shared, so remember to ask for a Solo Berth when using a First Class ticket
Two trains were found to be either unreservable, of which one was known to be unreservable
The first was the 16:36 York to Edinburgh Waverley Cross Country service on Sunday 21 June, which was found to be full
As a result a reservation extension was made on the previous train
The second was the 07:43 London Euston to Birmingham New Street Virgin Trains service on Monday 22 June
This service is temporarily not operated by a Pendolino or Voyager, and so is known not to be reservable

Second batch :
This was also performed at Glasgow Central, later the same evening
This Customer adviser was clearly more experienced, however was clearly annoyed that I had specific seat requirements but still fulfilled my requests
As expected the sleeper supplements were applied, but again the £2.50 First Class sleeper refreshment vouchers were not issued
I was advised these were only issued with First Class single tickets
I then presented an email and letter from First ScotRail confirming that these vouchers should be issued when holding a First Class All Line Rail Rover
The Customer adviser also noted that I had not been charged for one of my bookings earlier in the day, so sadly that ticket was cancelled and charged correctly

Third batch :
This was also performed at Glasgow Central, the following day
Again the Customer adviser was happy to take all my requests
Rather than read my list I was asked to read them out, which made the process much quicker
There were no sleeper reservations
A second attempt was made for the 16:03 York - Edinburgh Waverley (see first batch above)
This was still showing as full
The booking for the 12:16 Manchester Piccadilly - Preston First TransPennine Express service on Friday 26 June was also showing as full

Fourth batch :
This was also performed at Glasgow Central, one day later
As this was in the late evening there were only two Customer advisers, so I advised them early on that if it became busy I would be happy to suspend my requests so that any queue could be dealt with
Again, I was asked to read out my list and I started off with the sleeper reservations
The first was completed successfully, however the Customer adviser had placed the reservation as a complete package in error and the only way to correct this was delete the entire booking and start again
By this stage a queue had already built up so I suggested I come back again
After 15 minutes I was back, this time suggesting each reservation be completed on its own
Again, the £2.50 First Class sleeper refreshment vouchers were not issued
All the subsequent reservations were completed without any major issues, so much so that the Customer adviser was even to able guess some of the seat numbers before I had read them out!
A second attempt was made for the 12:16 Manchester Piccadilly - Preston (see third batch above)

Final batch :
Like those above, this was performed at Glasgow Central
Due to Arriva Trains Wales and East Midlands Trains refusing to provide information (see below) any suitable facing window seats were reserved

Whilst researching the tickets, prices, and entitlements during May 2009 I sent an email to First ScotRail, asking what holders of First Class All Line Rail Rover tickets would receive
The original email confirmed that £2.50 First Class sleeper refreshment vouchers would be issued, along with London Underground vouchers
I had no plans to use London Underground, so had no interest in these
On completing the third batch I sent a reply to that original email, along with a copy of the sleeper reservations
The following day I received a letter by post confirming that I should have received these refreshment vouchers but they could not be issued now, so I had been issued with Travel Vouchers to the value of £15.00 as compensation
A further email was sent regarding the fourth batch, this response advises that the original response and information was incorrect, with refreshment vouchers and London Underground vouchers only being issued with First ScotRail First Class sleeper single tickets

An email was sent to Arriva Trains Wales for seating plans
A response was received after 7 days that seating plans were not available

An email was sent to Cross Country regarding the 16:36 York to Edinburgh Waverley Cross Country service on Sunday 21 June, which was found to be full, but was found on there website to have seats available
A response was received within 24 hours, requesting date of travel
A subsequent reply confirmed a reservation had been made

An email was sent to East Midlands Trains as seat plans were not available
The inital reply later that day advised that seat plans did not exist, sadly this is not the case as Travel Agents have access to them (if required)
My subsequent request was for details on whether the First Class is at
the London end, using this allows use of the seat plans to check the seat plans
The reply to this was received after 7 days, advising that First Class could be at any end of the train

An email was sent to First TransPennine Express regarding the 12:16 Manchester Piccadilly - Preston service on Friday 26 June, which was showing as full
Rather than respond by email I had a response in writing
Included was a reservation on my alternative service, the 12:46 Manchester Piccadilly - Preston

An email was sent to Wrexham & Shrophire as seat plans were not available
The initial response later that day advised that seat plans were not available, but they would be more than happy to meet my requirements if I provided further details
The following day I had a confirmed reservation, which appears to meet my requirements