Etihad Now Lets You Easily Select Seats Online

Filed Under: Advice, Etihad

Etihad is behind the times when it comes to parts of their website. For example, while it has long been possible to book the Etihad Chauffeur through Etihad’s website, it hasn’t even been possible to select seats online for a partner booking. In the past I shared a workaround for selecting seats through Etihad’s website, though unfortunately that trick stopped working a while back.

Their call center doesn’t usually have long hold times, though it’s still annoying to have to pick up a phone to select seats. And for that matter their call center has a super annoying prompt system, and the representatives ask quite a few verification questions as well, so it’s not the fastest process in the world.

Well, it seems like Etihad now lets you “legitimately” select seats through their website, though it’s not that straightforward of a process.

To select seats you’ll first need your Etihad confirmation number. If you’re booking through a partner airline (like American) you’ll want to ask them for the Etihad confirmation number. For example, if redeeming American miles on Etihad there’s no way they can assign those Etihad seats for you, though they can give you the Etihad locator.

Then go to Etihad’s website, where on the right side you’ll see the “My trip” section. Enter your booking reference and last name, select the “Modify booking” option, and click “Retrieve booking.”


On the next page you’ll see a dropdown at the top which reads “Additional Services.” and then click “Add Baggage / Seats.”


On the next page you’ll see options to pay for extra baggage, though you’ll just want to click “Continue.”


Then you’ll be on the seat selection page, where you can select your preferred seats flight-by-flight.


The next page will confirm the seats you assigned.

Bottom line

Kudos to Etihad for finally adding a seat selection functionality to their website, including for partner bookings. While the old workaround was better than nothing, it had stopped working, so calling was the only way to select seats for such bookings. This should save everyone a few minutes when making Etihad bookings.

(Tip of the hat to Jimmy)

  1. If you using AA as I imagine most of us are, my two recent (past week or two) experiences have been that your reservation needs to be ticketed before it allows you to select seats. Prior to ticketing (i.e. on hold) you still need to call.

  2. I don’t know how new these “news” really are. I was able to select seats on for a booking with AA a couple of weeks ago the way you desribe above, so this feature might have been around for a while.

  3. I’ve been able to do this for years, at least the past 5 years (direct Etihad bookings)
    Is this new for partner airline bookings maybe?

  4. I’m not sure how new this feature is, either. I was able to use it to choose seats for a partner award ticket back in May.

  5. Ben – What seats do you prefer on Etihad’s planes?

    I have a flight in F on the A380 and was curios your thoughts. Thanks!

  6. But for US residents, or people visiting the US and intending to return, what’s the point? EY isn’t allowing anyone to leave the US on an award ticket.

  7. @Chuck Lester,

    I’m not sure why you would say that. As an example, just a quick glance at IAD-AUH and JFK-AUH shows multiple award seats in all three cabins over the next week. As Ben has pointed out, seats tend to be released in an unpredictable pattern.

  8. You’re absolutely right about the “super annoying prompt system”. but it gets worse than that. I tried calling for seat assignments earlier this week and over a 4-5 hour period, I called 6 times and each time pressed the option for First or Business class bookings. After a very brief hold/ring through, the phone line was picked up, but nobody said a word. I could hear ladies giggling and talking in the background, but my “hello……..helllo….helllo, anybody there” literally fell on deaf ears. It’s baffling to me how repeatedly 6 times over a multi hour period, the exact same thing happens. In fact, listening to the conversations and giggles, none of them seemed to be speaking with F/J customers, rather just talking amongst themselves about movies and lunch! On the 7th call I did not press for First and Business bookings, and just went to the standard agents and was promptly helped and given my requested seats. All that said, I still got something to happen faster than the combined 2 hours I spent on hold with AA trying to book the seats to begin with 🙂

  9. @travelb4

    I had Chuck Lesters experience with First Apartments – no availability leaving US, but fair options on the return from AUD. Flying over on EK F and back on EY FA isn’t terrible 🙂

  10. Hey Lucky,
    I was able to book my seats on Etihad and its partner airlines in September itself. Never had that problem before!
    Infact, I have always had to wait a very long time to talk to call center or Etihad Guest

  11. As noted by other commenters, this has been possible for at least a month (eg AA bookings for flights on EY). A good improvement!

  12. Currently working on around the world award trip. Alaska included Emirates confirmation info on their email. Had to call AA to get my CX confirmation number but it was immediately available when I called. Getting my Thai confirmation number from United has proven impossible either by email or phone. They insist they don’t have that info. Things get difficult without the airline confirmation number.

  13. Your post was perfect in timing for me. I had called AA Australia to book A380 AUH-JFK F award in April and it was ticketed today. So after reading your recent column on which seats to book, I used your procedure to book 3K and 4 K. Thanks.

  14. I had booked an itinerary on aa which involved Etihad. When I try to book seats, I get a message..

    “We are sorry. You cannot select seats for any of the flights for now. You may select your seat upon check-in.”

    Do I need to create an etihad account and login to book seats?

  15. Letsg0places, you shouldn’t need an Etihad account. I was able to pick my seats and I don’t have an Etihad account, I just had the Etihad record locator.

  16. It doesn’t help when they blocked off all the seats that I wanted in the business cabin on A380 AUH-SYD. Not a single forward-facing or window seat available (A,E,F,K). Very bizarre.

  17. I get the following:

    “The system has detected that your itinerary does not qualify for online changes.”

    AA award on EY Apartment.

  18. Hi Ben

    I had booked through Jet Airways code share Etihad, when I try to click “Add Baggage / Seats.”, I get this message. “We are sorry but this booking cannot be changed online. Please contact us for further assistance.”. What could be the reason?

    Thank you

  19. Getting the same “We are sorry but this booking cannot be changed online. Please contact us for further assistance.” message when I try to select seats on my AAdvantage award booking with Etihad.

  20. I’m also getting the “We are sorry but this booking cannot be changed online. Please contact us for further assistance.” note when I try to select my seat. Any idea why or if this is temporary?


  21. I called and selected my seats & asked why the contact them message came up. They advised any bookings not done through the Etihad site will get the same contact them message. It was pretty painless calling it thru & the person I spoke to was helpful.

  22. Dear sir I want to confirm to my ticket in my email I’d I buy already please I don’t know have any idea

  23. Hello,

    I’m getting the same message – I can’t choose my seats online because I booked my flight through a third party.

    I wondered if anyone has called the customer service centre and if their assistants have enabled you to select online?

    I’d much rather see an overview of the plane to select my ‘shortlist’ of seats (economy sadly!) than spend half an hour on the phone discussing all the options with someone.

    Do they allow this?

    Thank you

  24. @Curtis – I’m getting the same thing, I’ve tried both of the workarounds mentioned on this site and neither works. Planning on calling since I want to make sure I get seats as I’m traveling with my gf

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *