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Why no more free seating airlines in Europe?

Why no more free seating airlines in Europe?

Old Oct 19, 16, 3:02 am
  #1  
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Why no more free seating airlines in Europe?

I was wondering

up until a few years ago, Ryan Air and Wizz Air had Free Seating. This caused everyone to scrum at the boarding gate and rush onto the plane, and choose their own seats. No complaints for not being able to sit next to each other because it's just first come first serve, right? And everyone would be at the plane early, so very easy for the airline. No latecomers as they would end up with a bad seat.

So why did all european airlines (that I know of) change to Assigned Seating? Because carriers such as SouthWest in the US still, to my knowledge, do free seating.

Does anyone recall if you could also pick emergency exit/bulkhead seats when there used to be free seating or did you have to reserve those in advance?
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Old Oct 19, 16, 3:08 am
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There's also some other tactis that I don't see employed within europe:

- SouthWest in the US offers free of charge flight changes (only fare difference). Why is this not so with any European carriers (that I know of, except premium/flex fares)?
- Why is there hardly any european carrier that does one-stop services (say, AMS - Memmingen - Bucharest or something like that) ? This is relatively common in the US, and in Brazil the majority of flights seems to have one or even more stops. And the flights are also marketed as such (so in Belém you can board a plane to Porto Alegre, but it will stop in GRU and Curitiba, or something. But at the departure gate it's actually marked as a plane to Porto Alegre with 2 stops showing underneath).

One stops could make a service that would not be viable for direct service, be viable. So either Major Airport - Minor Airport - Major Airport, or the other way round (Minor Airport - Major Airport - Minor Airport).
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Old Oct 19, 16, 4:05 am
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Assigned seating allows seat reservations - which are charged for, of course.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 5:44 am
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Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
So why did all european airlines (that I know of) change to Assigned Seating? Because carriers such as SouthWest in the US still, to my knowledge, do free seating.
Assigned Seating has been done by most European airlines for as long as I can remember. The exception was free seating. What is happening these last couples of years is, that airlines offering seat reservations started to charge for reservations.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
- Why is there hardly any european carrier that does one-stop services (say, AMS - Memmingen - Bucharest or something like that) ?
  • Geographically impractical
  • Different countries => different regulations regarding air travel making a A-B-C route considerably more complex to the airline than A-B and A-C
  • As soon as you cross the extiror borders of Schengen, you'll need to clear to plane, have everybody cleared by immigration, have them reboard the plane.
  • Unattractive with passengers.
  • Much more complicated. Most European airlines try to get their crews back to base. With an A-B-C route, passengers might end up having to overnight somewhere.

Those services are essentially only useful for domestic flights within large countries.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
So either Major Airport - Minor Airport - Major Airport,
If an airline can't fill an airplane between two major airports, they surely can't fill the same plane by stopping of in a small town.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 5:48 am
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Mostly because it's so uncouth.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 7:52 am
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Originally Posted by WorldLux View Post
Assigned Seating has been done by most European airlines for as long as I can remember. The exception was free seating. What is happening these last couples of years is, that airlines offering seat reservations started to charge for reservations.
Yup, and sometimes exorbitantly high fares for it, though the low costs such as Wizz Air only charge a couple of euros which I think is very reasonable and although I never needed it, I would do it if I wanted to.

I know free seating waas only done on budget carriers, but why did they do it in the first place if it's not profitable.

  • Geographically impractical
  • Different countries => different regulations regarding air travel making a A-B-C route considerably more complex to the airline than A-B and A-C
  • As soon as you cross the extiror borders of Schengen, you'll need to clear to plane, have everybody cleared by immigration, have them reboard the plane.
  • Unattractive with passengers.
  • Much more complicated. Most European airlines try to get their crews back to base. With an A-B-C route, passengers might end up having to overnight somewhere.

Those services are essentially only useful for domestic flights within large countries.
But isn't Europe within Schengen like one large country for any air travel purposes. The only problem is , indeed, if you fly outside of schengen.
The Schengen zone is smaller than, say, brazil or the Us, but still large enough. Within schengen pax wouldn't have to leave the plane during a stop. And anyone can fly from anywhere to anywhere within Schengen. From Sweden to Portugal and from Ireland to Greece, it's all still Schengen.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 9:59 am
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Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
..., but why did they do it in the first place if it's not profitable.
Why do it if most customers dislike it and you can make money of customers by having them reserve seats? Many families enjoy knowing beforehand, that they will sit together. Even without making seat reservations, groups may always find sets of adjoining seats when checking-in as early as possible.

Compare that to WN, where you could end up separated, as many take up window/aisle seats and thus leaving only the middle seats empty. I regularly see families at the end of the boarding struggling to get seated.

BTW: Even many LCCs (e.g. A5, EW, ...) have been assigning seats fore years. FR and U2 were among the very few exceptions.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
But isn't Europe within Schengen like one large country for any air travel purposes.
Yes and no. While the Schengen area eliminates borders, there are many national regulations and laws, that overcomplicate A-B-C routes within Europe. E.g. Some nations require to check the identity of every departing passengers, which would include passengers on A-C stopping in B. France for instance checked every arriving and departing person (by road, train, aircraft and boat) after the attacks and prior to the COP21.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
The Schengen zone is smaller than, say, brazil or the Us, but still large enough. Within schengen pax wouldn't have to leave the plane during a stop.
That probably depends on the country, where the plane makes its stop. The problem still is, that any stop on a Schengen route would add considerably time on any flight.

There are literally no advantages to passengers and it would be a logistic nightmare for airlines. By contrast to US airlines, European carriers would not have a base at both ends and they would probably need to position crews at both ends.

Furthermore, most European airliners are either member of an alliance, partnering with an alliance or - in the case of LCC - avoid connecting flights at all coast.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 10:13 am
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Originally Posted by WorldLux View Post
Why do it if most customers dislike it and you can make money of customers by having them reserve seats? Many families enjoy knowing beforehand, that they will sit together. Even without making seat reservations, groups may always find sets of adjoining seats when checking-in as early as possible.

Compare that to WN, where you could end up separated, as many take up window/aisle seats and thus leaving only the middle seats empty. I regularly see families at the end of the boarding struggling to get seated.

BTW: Even many LCCs (e.g. A5, EW, ...) have been assigning seats fore years. FR and U2 were among the very few exceptions.
Now what I wonder is what drove those specific carriers to be the exception and have free seating at the time, up to only a few years ago. And maybe side tracking a bit, why WN still does free seating to this very day.


Yes and no. While the Schengen area eliminates borders, there are many national regulations and laws, that overcomplicate A-B-C routes within Europe. E.g. Some nations require to check the identity of every departing passengers, which would include passengers on A-C stopping in B. France for instance checked every arriving and departing person (by road, train, aircraft and boat) after the attacks and prior to the COP21.



That probably depends on the country, where the plane makes its stop. The problem still is, that any stop on a Schengen route would add considerably time on any flight.

There are literally no advantages to passengers and it would be a logistic nightmare for airlines. By contrast to US airlines, European carriers would not have a base at both ends and they would probably need to position crews at both ends.

Furthermore, most European airliners are either member of an alliance, partnering with an alliance or - in the case of LCC - avoid connecting flights at all coast.
Yes if people have to leave the plane that kind of defeats the purpose of one stops. Strange that Schengen hasn't included the rule that forces countries to allow via-points without exiting the aircraft. Doesnt seem like true 'open borders' to me. I recall when we flew many years ago to brazil, we had a one stop flight to GIG (via GRU) and I don't think we had to exit the plane at all. Though it was annoying to have to wait, much better than an extra transfer.

As for airlines based in only one country, yes they could never offer one-stops. However carriers such as Norwegian, Transavia, Easyjet, Wizz Air, Ryan Air etc. all have bases in very many countries.

While most of them don't allow transfers, a one-stop would be a cheap way for them to offer more destinations with fewer flights. I would love it if I could use Wizz Air to fly Eindhoven to Budapest and then to god knows where, for example, but I can't. Not without purchasing two completely separate tickets, separate baggage fees and having to exit and enter immigration. So I would never do that.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 11:12 am
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Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
Now what I wonder is what drove those specific carriers to be the exception and have free seating at the time
For FR: potentially quicker boarding + additional revenue. I remember my first FR flights. People were frequently queuing over 15 minutes before boarding was scheduled to start and started running to the plane as soon as it was possible. Many passengers paid for prio boarding.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
Strange that Schengen hasn't included the rule that forces countries to allow via-points without exiting the aircraft. Doesnt seem like true 'open borders' to me.
Simple answer: Try getting a consensus between multiple nations. Long answer: Schengen is not absolute and borders still exist in many sectors and once certain minimum levels are exceeded.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
However carriers such as Norwegian, Transavia, Easyjet, Wizz Air, Ryan Air etc. all have bases in very many countries.
But as it stands, those carriers aren't interested in connecting passengers. FR refused for years to sell connecting flights. And even if FR, U2 and co. have multiple bases, they usually have their planes return to the bases.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 11:31 am
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Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post

So why did all european airlines (that I know of) change to Assigned Seating?
Women with children didnt like fighting for a seat.
Women with children pay for these 'extras'
Women with children are more profitable.


Sooo... european airlines feminized, just like Ryanair recently did.

Personally, I hated it at first, im bigger than most and I got the seat I wanted without fail. But now when the bums rush happens and everybody que's up. I sit back and relax, I know my seat is allocated by Ryanair.


It happened around the same time absolute idiots demanded to see the price of the fare up front so laws came in to make this happen... which meant that the extras were now taxable. And the airfare was higher (increased tax bill) Soooo they airlines had to find a new way to gouge everyone.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 11:32 am
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+ we dont have it that bad, AirAsia kept splitting my party, all booked at the same time. I saw other people who were also treated like this, not very bright annoying pax for the sake of £2.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
And maybe side tracking a bit, why WN still does free seating to this very day.
Southwest did experiment with assigned seating a few years ago, but decided to stick with open seating, but having people board in a very specific order according to when they check in.

They monetize seating by charging to get to the front of the line along with FFers.

They board their planes MUCH faster than legacy airlines, and that with your previously mentioned through flights (AAA-BBB-CCC) with many pax staying on the plane gives them ability to fly more legs with an aircraft and raising profits.
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Old Oct 20, 16, 6:43 am
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Mostly because they can make €£ on seat rez fees.
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Old Oct 20, 16, 7:03 am
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Because people actually prefer to have allocated seats.

Ryanair used to have allocated seating from the start of their operation until sometime in the 90s - it was abolished in order to speed up boarding and to cut down on overheads.
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Old Oct 20, 16, 8:00 am
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Oh wow I didnt even know ryan air was that old !!
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