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Have You Seen What It Costs to Reserve a Club World Seat These Days?

Have You Seen What It Costs to Reserve a Club World Seat These Days?
Joe Cortez

Even if you’re flying in British Airways’ premium Club World cabin, don’t expect to escape ancillary fees. FlyerTalkers are once again at-arms over the flag carrier’s policy of charging for seat selection. Prices have climbed up to around $115 per selection – leaving frequent flyers wondering if the upgrade is actually worth the price.

Seat selection fees are commonplace for flyers in any economy cabin. But what if you were charged a fee to select a seat in a premium cabin?

Such is the problem British Airways business class passengers are facing. After booking a flight in the Club World section, these business class flyers are being asked to spend an additional $115 to select their seat.

As noted by London Air Travel, seat selection fees increased on May 14, 2019 to a range from $75 to upwards of $115 per flyer in the Club World section. Seat prices vary based on the type of seat selected and where it sits. For example: the upper deck of British Airways’ Boeing 747 cost around $115 to select a seat, while rear-facing center seats cost the least at around $75 each. If a couple were to select the cheapest seats prior to departure, they could face ancillary fees of over $300 for their entire trip.

The topic is hotly debated from all sides on the FlyerTalk forums. Those indifferent to the fees argue that it’s simply a product of flying today, while those against argue that a business class seat should be an all-inclusive product.

“The first time I flew CW I noticed that I would have to pay for seat selection and decided I wouldn’t bother,” FlyerTalker mikebg notes in the forums. “Every airline has their oddities, and we just need to live with it. In the end I got the seat I had wanted at [online check-in] anyway (probably because it was one of those ‘secret’ good seats that only FT followers know about …)”

“I at least understand the goal of protecting good seats for elites,” argues FlyerTalker Gig103 as a oneworld Sapphire elite. “I disagree with it though because to me, part of the benefit of [business class] travel is the “all inclusive” product. And first come first served has worked for the other airlines.”

FlyerTalk moderator Saltire74 has another opinion on the buy-up option. “I thought it daylight robbery to charge [around $102] for an [exit seat on a 3.5-hour economy flight],” noting the price to purchase the seat is almost the same as selecting a seat in Club World.

Meanwhile, FlyerTalker CarefreeBA has a more pragmatic opinion: “As much as free seat selection would be ideal, BA has got a really good case for charging ridiculous amounts for it,” they write in the forum. “British Airways have (premium) economy layouts across the cabin (2-4-2; 2-3-2) where there are seats…that people really want. If BA can operate high density cabins anyway, then it’ll be somewhat silly as it leaking revenue for them.”

Finally, orbitmic has a pitch of their own to settle the problem for flyers: “The only thing that surprises me is that FlyerTalk has not come up with a ‘What to do if you worry that arguments over seat selection fees in [business class] will spoil the atmosphere of your Christmas dinner?’ — Yet.”

We’re still working out that solution ourselves.

“Seating prices are reviewed regularly and can vary based on a number of factors, including location onboard the aircraft,” a British Airways spokesperson shared with FlyerTalk. “The option to select seats in advance is very popular with our customers, and those who do not wish to pay to pre-select seats still have the option to choose their seat for free from 24 hours in advance of travel.”


[Image Source: British Airways]

View Comments (13)


  1. Flight44

    May 28, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Wouldn’t mind the fee, but flying BA is a dodgy proposition at best.

  2. rjpjr

    May 28, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Pretty cheeky as they say over there. Are the fees scaled according to FF level? Regardless, a $5G ticket ought to guarantee me a choice, as should a ticket obtained through mile redemption( loyal customers should be rewarded, or so I thought).

  3. GetSetJetSet

    May 28, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    It’s a disgusting practice. If I wasn’t OWE and had to pay to select, i’d avoid BA as a rule. It’s not like their product is often the cheapest option anyway, even though it does deliver a bottom of the market experience.

  4. edgewood49

    May 28, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    When you’re booking on points from a partner airline then paying the “Surcharge vig” Then on tope of it seat charge that sucks. Just booked AF instead of BA.

  5. beeorchid

    May 29, 2019 at 6:25 am

    It would be all right if you actually got the seat you’ve paid to reserve. After paying £100 or so to reserve window seats in PE, we found ourselves without notice in the centre block. We had to apply for reimbursement within so many days – no automatic reimbursement. No apology from the staff at the airport or on board, and a response from BA Customer Services that we were only Blue.

  6. miami888

    May 29, 2019 at 6:44 am

    My solution to this pettiness is to simply choose NEVER to fly on British Airways ever again. I bought a full fare Club World ticket 9 months prior to flight and selected a window seat with aisle access. One month before the flight, BA changed my seat and did not even contact me. I am an Emerald OW flyer. Their response, “BA reserves the right to change your seat at any time”.
    I find BA to be THE WORST!

  7. Bretteee

    May 30, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Austrian charge $35 just to pick an economy seat on USA / Vienna flights.

  8. BenSenise

    June 5, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    BA have lost the plot and it just isn’t worth flying with them anymore.

  9. Cymba

    June 7, 2019 at 5:20 am

    BA charge $ based customer significantly more for club world seat reervations than those paying in pounds.

  10. Grog

    June 7, 2019 at 6:24 am

    It’s a money grab by decision makers. I sincerely hope those decision makers feel a squeeze in the future for the decisions they make.

  11. m44

    June 7, 2019 at 6:32 am

    The airlines are tax dodgers and highway robbery of the past. Ultimate products of Tacher/Reagan trickledowners (ergo pseudo-educated impostors).
    The taxes airlines pay, at least in USA, are used for infrastructure development. Ancillary fees are not subject to that tax. So it is advantageous for the airlines to charge as much as possible for the ancillary fees as this increases their revenue that is not subject to certain taxes.
    All this works against society on many levels: by breaking bonds between people who are forced to experience travel separated by lobotomized airline managers, by redirecting to private pockets huge amounts of money that could be used for infrastructure development and many more.
    I just wonder when the pitchforks come out.

  12. williasp

    June 7, 2019 at 6:41 am

    All the airlines seem to have banded together to make flying as unpleasant as possible.
    BA seat selection in Business Class is absurd. You’ve paid a premium price to avoid the discomforts of flying. Imagine you are flying with a family of four. You’ve paid an enormous fare to fly business and would like to be able to sit in close proximity. Are we supposed to leave it to check-in time to select our seats and hope there is a good selection available?

  13. AJNEDC

    June 8, 2019 at 4:49 am

    Continues to boggle my mind that people pay thousands of dollars to fly business class then pay more to reserve a seat, just as if they were flying coach. I find this inexplicable. Absolutely no way I would ever do this.

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