Iberia starts charging for seat selection … even at check-in!

Sometimes an airline does something which makes you want to bang your head against the wall at its sheer stupidity.  The latest attempt by Iberia (which is BA’s little sister, remember) is just one of those events.

British Airways, of course, has seat selection fees.  The most shocking of which, frankly, is the £60 per person, each way, fee to select a seat in Club World!  Unless you are a Bronze, Silver or Gold BA cardholder, paying £1500+ for a business class seat does not actually give you the right to choose to sit next to your partner ….

Iberia seat selection

Iberia has a found way to take it even further.  Here are the fees:

Domestic – £3 before check-in, £5 at online check-in, £7 at the airport

Short and mid-haul – £9 before check-in, £13 at online check-in, £18 at the airport

Long-haul – £25 before check-in, £30 at online check-in, £35 at the airport

The best bit, though, is this.  Partly for advertising standards reasons (if the fee cannot be avoided, it would have to be included in flight prices shown in advertising), Iberia gives you the option of NOT paying at the airport!

This is how it appears to work.  You arrive at the check-in desk with no seat reservation for your Iberia flight to New York.  The check-in agent asks you for £70 in order to enter into a discussion with her on selecting seats (eg ‘middle block or aisle?’, ‘front or back of the plane?’).  If you do not hand over £70, the agent or her computer will randomly select two seats for you from the seats remaining, which you will be forced to accept.

Perhaps I am getting old, but this appears to be completely bonkers.

Even the fee itself is pretty shocking.  The fees I quote are per person, each way – a couple would have to pay an extra £100 on an economy trip to New York.  The good news is that the fee does not apply to Avios redemption seats.  oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cardholders are also exempt.

Of course, Iberia isn’t charging business class passengers for seat selection.  Because that really would be crazy, wouldn’t it, BA ….?

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  1. How can I get My BA GOLD To Work on Iberia flights? It never seems to get to work on a IB reservation.

  2. Hingeless says:

    Is this an “aumento”

  3. Do any other (non-LCC) airlines in the world do this?

  4. Dear Iberia,

    Nice one! But unfortunately it appears your famously efficient website has loaded this page 81 days early.

    Kind regards
    An ex-customer

  5. I think you will find its now GBP65 to book seats in Club World, each seat, each way. It was this much on LHR-VYR in December, a route plagued by the farce of BA auto-checkin.

    • It depends on the route length. For upcoming bookings I have in CW:

      *Washington is £60 each way (777)
      *Miami and Johannesburg are £65 each way (777 and A380 main deck respectively)
      *Upper deck seats on an A380 to Johannesburg are £80 each way(!)

      At those prices I simply refuse to pay on principle and take my chances at online check-in (which for two of us has yielded decent results so far, even on full flights). At more reasonable prices I might be tempted.

      Interesting that Iberia have decided to charge more for reservations the later you leave it, so sensibly it’s a choice of pay up-front when you book or accept a random selection at the airport.

      Must remember when doing price comparisons that flights to Madrid with Iberia are now £18 return each more than the headline price….

  6. ITravelElite says:

    Simple. Take another airline. Completely stupid action.

  7. I actually doff my hat to Iberia for this groundbreaking act of utter stupidity.

    Of course the people that will be shouted and screamed at are the check-in people who have a tough job anyway, and this will inevitably feedback on their service to us the customers (when I say ‘us’ I don’t mean ‘me’ as I have no need to travel Iberia fortunately). Meanwhile the beancounters are rubbing their hands with glee in their ivory towers…

    The accountants and muppets that came up with this should be forced to be the people who implement this to the public at check-in.

  8. It was even worse on a bmibaby flight I went on from EMA to Scotland a few years ago. For those who had not paid a seat reservation fee, their computer would automatically select seats at check-in which you couldn’t change.

    However, these were not selected randomly; they were deliberately selected to be in the worst part of the plane and to split up parties. (I was in a group of two.) Check-in staff told me this was deliberate policy to encourage people to pay.

    On my flight, that was less than half full, the moment the door closed, half the passengers stood up and swapped seats to be with their party.

  9. so how does this work?

    Suppose you don’t pay and turn up at the check in desk and get allocated seats apart. Can you then pay up to sit together (or can one of you check in and the other pay to sit next to the first person?) I see this slowing down checkin considerably.

    • It isn’t clear. I have tried to find an example in practice, but no-one of the Flyertalk Iberia board has been impacted because they all have status or fly in Business!

  10. mangrove says:

    Ouch. This appears to be worse than Ryanair!

  11. Just to be absolutely clear, have I understood this correctly?

    You book a business class long haul return on BA: you cannot select a seat at ANY time and are assigned one at checkin regardless of preference, UNLESS you pay an additional fee?

    Last time I checked in online for BA I was able to select my seat, and that was in economy short haul.

    • Nearly but not quite. If you book a BA business class seat and you don’t have a Silver, Gold or Bronze card, you cannot pick a seat without paying £65 each way UNTIL online check-in opens. Once online check-in opens, you can select a seat for free. However, there won’t be many left.

      Same rule for economy, although the price is lower than £65.

      • Ahhh, that makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to reply!

      • Well I suppose a large number of readers pay or have status and won’t have experience of this.

        But I find that in J usually 50% of seats are still available at T-24h. Well the best seat that i want is usually gone, but there are some good ones left.

        For Y where my aim an aisle seat as forward as possible, or a whole row at the back, I usually always manage to get a “good” seat unless I’m sleeping in the wrong time zone and forget to check-in until T-12h.

  12. And as for Iberia – you can’t even select a seat at online checkin for free anymore, is that right? If so, absolutely crazy!

    • You can’t select a seat for free, full stop. Not even at airport checkin.

      • That’s the last straw. Iberia sucks completely in every possible way already, but with this as well, they can forget it.

        Does anyone know if this applies to a flight marketed by Iberia, but operated by another airline?

    • creampuff says:

      I’ve banned Iberia.

  13. squills says:

    BA and EasyJet (which also now allocates seats to everybody) do at least put families together if you haven’t paid for seat choice. I guess the young children swings it, I think it’s a regulation.

    • Yes, there are CAA rules about separating children from their parents, although the age cut-off is fairly low (11?).

  14. Discount Mike says:

    How the F…? .. What the F…? My brain is stalling at the stupidity of this. Just shut it down and get it over with.

  15. What are they thinking?! What an absolutely ridiculous scheme.

    I’ve always held a grudge against Iberia, since OW status rules clearly don’t apply to them, or at least, that’s what their staff seem to think.

    I genuinely think easyJet are a better alternative for flying to Spain – fly to most places direct, even though it is from LGW, LTN or STN. At least you know what you’re getting with easyJet. Shame there’s no oneworld logo (purely from a miles and points prospective) hidden somewhere on those disgusted orange airbuses!

  16. Lady London says:

    Makes a mockery, as most corporates I have worked for have deals with airlines that give them not just corporate rates, but things like free Silver Memberships and the ability to allocate seats at time of booking regardless of status or booking class.

    So the poor leisure traveller, perhaps your grandmother that hasn’t flown before, or people travellilng with children, may only discover this at checkin.

    What’s the Spanish wording for this? Oh, yes, I know! It’s……..