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Seat Selection Fees Are Officially out of Control

Once associated only with budget carriers, even the nation’s legacy carriers are now levying seat selection fees. While they add on an additional cost to the passenger, they don’t always equate to extra perks for passengers. JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska are among those airlines with no seat fees.

For those who opt to fly with one of the nation’s legacy carriers, there’s no escaping seat selection fees, USA Today reports. American AirlinesUnited Airlines and Delta Air Lines all have them, but despite their ubiquitous presence in the booking process, they don’t equate to perks for passengers.

Instead, the outlet reports that these kind of fees are, “…a source of frustration and confusion for travelers.” The canny wording often used by carriers – which sees airlines refer to the seats being sold as “preferred” – describes seats that are actually located in parts of the craft that travelers tend to prefer, such as window and aisle spots near the front of the plane.

Travelers, of course, don’t like them, but those working within the top brass at these airlines have defended these fees. Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, observed in a conference call earlier this month that, when it comes to seat selection fees, “everyone” is now enforcing them, the outlet reports.

Offering his insight, Henry Harteveldt, the co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, told the outlet that, when it comes to booking trips, “You have to plan and book trips with your eyes wide open.”

With Harteveldt’s advice in mind, the outlet has offered its tips for travelers concerning seat selection fees. Firstly, it reminds passengers that seats don’t necessarily have to be purchased. Those looking for free seats should check the back of the plane for deal.

Secondly, it reminds those traveling in groups who decide to forego seat selection that – unless they are traveling with young children – their party may be split. Next, it states that, “There’s a big difference between a preferred seat in economy and a premium seat in economy.” The latter offer more legroom and priority boarding while the former is just a seat.

Finally, the outlet also notes that, while in some cases seat selection fees can cost more than a checked bag, not all carriers levy them. SouthwestJetBlue and Alaska Airlines are among those carriers that don’t – for now, at least.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
htb December 24, 2018

@AlastairGordon "And those who don’t care so much about which seat they get are able to save money." Don't be fooled and don't you fool anyone! The introduction of new fees usually leaves the ticket price pretty much where it is but declares things that were previously included -- like baggage and seats -- as a new item to be purchased separately. There are no savings. Just less service if you don't want to pay more than before. HTB.

Sabai December 23, 2018

Airline consolidation: More money for the carriers; less choice for consumers.

Giantbird December 23, 2018

Seat selection fees, baggage fees, credit card fees etc I take them all into account when I chose who to fly with. Price is not the only factor but an important one. Sometimes I find when I add all the fees a carrier with a more comfortable plane or better timetable works out cheaper or not much more expensive and I abandon the cart when I see the total and book with the other airline which I perceive better value for the total price. Do not be a fool and be conned. Do not commit until you know the total price.

Michael Rosenpenis December 22, 2018

After 26 years of air travel I have decided to stop wasting my time bitching about fees and poor service. I just email the CEO of the airlines and send them a bill for my time at $1500 per hour. So far it has resulted in 3 roundtrip tickets for my time. For example, if you want to send your compliant directly to American Airlines CEO and his errrrrr "crack" team. https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/ Have a Merry Christmas! Doctor Rosenpenis

BJM December 21, 2018

Southwest's early bird check in scheme is, in effect, a charge for seat selection.