Starting October 7th, the UK airline will be charging pretty hefty fees for anyone who wants to make a seat selection at the time of booking (something offered for free by most civilized airlines in the world).
The fees start at $15 for a domestic UK seat selection, and go to $30 for World Traveler and World Traveler Plus, and an insulting $90 for their business class product. Those still stupid enough to pay for a First Class seat still get to pick their favorite for free.
If you don’t want to play along, then you can select your seat 24 hours in advance for free, which will be after everyone else has picked the best seats, most likely forcing you and your family to sit in the middle seat spread throughout the plane.
I’m going to say it right away – this new move is disgusting, and shows how pathetic the airlines have become. Can you imagine paying $3400 for a business class ticket, then being asked to fork over another $90 just so you can get a decent seat? It gets even better – British Airways clearly understands that the exit row seats are very popular, so they keep those blocked until 10 days before the flight, and want $75 per person, per segment.
What this means to your wallet is this; lets assume that you and your wife are flying from New York to Amsterdam, and would like to sit together with your three teenagers. Your first segment will cost $150, then $75 on the London to Amsterdam flight. Then of course that same price for the flights back. Would you pay $450 for decent seats, or would you just pick a better airline?
The only silver lining is that elite passengers can still select their favorite seat for free, and that passengers traveling with kids (2-11) or kids traveling on their own can select a seat three days before departure without paying the fee. Which in my opinion is still just as insulting, because by then, the open seat selection will be miserable. A chart showing the changes can be found here.
It is obvious that we are in a new era of air travel, and that the airlines have lost all respect for their passengers. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, and I suspect we’ll start seeing more of these stupid fees pop up every week. There is bound to be an airline HQ somewhere in the world where someone reads about these new British Airways seat fees and says “hey, we can do that too”.