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British Airways to Start Charging for Advance Seat Selection

In a move to increase BA's glum profit figures the airline has now decided to start charging passengers for advanced seat selection available from 355 days prior to flying and up to 24 hours before departure.

British Airways to Start Charging for Advance Seat Selection

From 7th October 2009 British Airways will start allowing their passengers to pre-select their seats well in advance of their departure dates, but depending on the seats selected and the class the customers fly on, different charges will apply.

With this new approach British Airways seem to be following some of the low-cost airlines who utilise ‘add-on’ tactics to rip in extra profits by implementing extra costs for passengers. The new pre-selection of seats comes as BA’s latest attempt to improve its plummeting profits and glum figures.

The main UK carrier for popular holiday destinations, BA will now be giving customers the full flexibility of choosing exactly where to sit during their journey. BA is well renowned for taking UK holidaymakers to Caribbean holidays as well as Cancun holidays and other more exotic destinations such as Mauritius holidays, Maldives holidays and Dubai holidays.

The new fees for domestic and Euro Traveller passengers will amount to £10 to book further than 24 hours in advance, rising to £60 for Club World Travellers. In addition, customers will be able to request exit row seats in World Traveller or World Traveller Plus from as soon as 10 days in advance to 4 days before their flight with a cost of £50 per person per sector. Nevertheless, Gold Executive Club members and oneworld Emerald equivalents together with other passengers on the same booking will be able to request an exit row seat free of charge at any time before their flight.

On the other hand, first passengers, those with infants, the disabled or those with other special requirements will be able to pre-book their seats for free.

The new fees will not be applying to Premier and Gold Executive Club members who are already able to choose their seats for free in all cabins (including exit row seats) at the time of booking. Silver card holders, customers with fully flexible tickets and customers on corporate deals can pre-assign their seats for free and will have the option to buy exit row seats in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus.

Whilst the new move will allow passengers more freedom and greater control on seat selection, many see it as a full-service airline moving towards the low-cost formula of charging for extras. Those who choose not to avail of the new service will be left to select from the remaining available seats from 24 hours before departure.

According to BA sources these new charges move “is in line with the airline’s response to surviving the economic downturn”. BA went on to add that “teams from across the sales & marketing and customer directorate have been reviewing the airline’s entire customer proposition, looking at ways to reduce costs and bring in additional revenue”.

Global long-haul airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and BMI are still not charging pre-allocated seating; regardless of what class a passenger is flying in. BMI does not charge for pre-booking seats on either its short or long-haul flights.

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