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British Airways fees for credit cards and seat selection increasing

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The British Airways credit card fee increased yesterday from £4.50 to £5 per booking.  This is the first increase since the fee was introduced in 2009 (was it really so long ago?).

Despite this, British Airways still claims that it does not recover its entire credit card costs.  Arguably this is a moot point, since it is still cheaper than accepting cheque payments or running city centre ticket offices to receive cash.

BA 747 retirement

Customers could use a debit card, of course, but would have no protection if BA went bust and would fail to receive the travel insurance benefits that come with most credit cards. BA would also lose business, especially for higher priced tickets, to online travel agents who do take credit cards – but also take a commission from BA.

The lucky residents of many other countries in the drop-down menu on ba.com still seem to be exempt from payment …..

At least BA has not gone down the Virgin Atlantic route with a flat charge of 1.5% whatever the total, which is a killer on long-haul bookings.  The BA fee is also per booking and not per passenger.

The seat selection fee also crept up a few weeks ago without most people noticing.

The current British Airways seat selection fees can be seen in this chart:

Seating list

Given the huge number of BA routes, it is impractical to list which flights fall into which band.  You can make a pretty good guess, though, based on how far you are flying.

LH is long-haul, SH is short-haul, ‘Upper’ refers to the top deck of a Boeing 747.

I am stunned that there are people paying £85 EACH WAY PER PERSON to prebook seats on a long-haul flight, but clearly this is proving to be a good revenue generator for British Airways.  It may be playing on the naivity of very occasional premium flyers, however, since anyone who flies more than two long-haul Club World trips per year is likely to have Silver status (and free seat selection) in any event.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (52)

  • Martin says:

    Frustrating I suppose but no big issues from me on the CC fee given the comparable charges with other airlines although I feel they shouldn’t charge a fee for using the BA amex as those holding this card are in essence supporting the BA brand. I suppose the £5 fee looks rich on domestic flights though.

    As for seat selection, it’s not a rip off IMO as you have a choice whether to pay or not, basic no status holders get free at 24 hours prior and bronze from 7 days out, silver and better obviously get it free anyway.

  • Lady London says:

    I was completely unaware of this. My first thought on seeing the scale of charges here was “Am I looking at the Ryanair price list for extras?”. Truly we are looking at the Ryanairization of BA.

    Think I saw a report somewhere that the cost of processing a credit card transaction online is a very low number of pence. It isn’t proportionate at all, to the value of the transaction either.

    Just to upset anyone who pays these outrageous fees even more, IME blanket free of charge seat selection in any class at time of booking is readily given away as a policy by BA to all levels of traveller of corporate customers.

    • Mark2 says:

      We recently experienced the Ryanairization. When we checked in at T5 to fly to Pisa with two suitcases and no hand luggage one suitcase was lighter for my wife to pull although the total was within the two X weight limit. We were advised that cases were now weighed separately and we had to pay £40 excess baggage. On the way back from Malpensa, after distributing the weight equally, the cases were weighed together.
      I complained, mentioning Ryanair, but was fobbed off.

  • Daniel says:

    Ryanairization! – Well worth remembering that this is what Willie Walsh did to Aer Lingus when he was in charge there! Seems to be following the same path with BA though at a slower pace. Also Ryanair charge 2% for credit cards which means that BA charges now work out higher on short haul journeys up to 250 Stg! I wonder who is making money from all this!
    I agree with the comments above about use of the BA amex card – seems to be hit for supporting BA in the first place.

    • steve says:

      Do people really have the BA Amex to support BA? I certainly dont, i just use it to gain more avios and if a better deal came along i would ditch it without a thought.

  • paula says:

    slightly off topic but the virgin site for checking reward availably has been updated, now much easier to see availability in all cabins for each month at once.

  • Andy says:

    Canada does not allow credit card surcharges in general (but not sure if they’re covered)

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    I’ve heard people say a few times about changing your country to avoid the Fee but never worked out how. I tried it once but the 4.50 Still appeared at checkout. I do take exception paying it with my BAPP card however. So I generally use Debit card if below what I think the 3 x Avios is worth paying the fee for. So probably around 300.

    I think it is a ripoff BA charging this for Cheap domestics. I once flew MAN to LHR for £35 and only realised afterwards I was charged £4.50. It’s when I first got my BA amex so was none the wiser. I realised I’d paid a fee of almost 15% to use my Amex to basically get 105 extra Avios, at the time I opened a dispute console with Amex as felt BA were in breach of regulations regarding this. I should have pursued it with the Ombudsman but didn’t at the time.

    Now I use Debit card mostly . But if someone could explain the country thing more clearly? Oh did a lot of BA day trips before the summer. £45ish each way. Paid with Debit. Then on offered PAUGs paid with Amex as upgrades don’t incur a fee!

    So aside from the principle of the Fee, their applying of it is completely inconsistent.

    • Rob says:

      On ba.com, change ‘Country of card issuance’ on the payment page to, say, Ukraine and then use an Amex-issued Amex. No fee. You will be charged with a Visa or MC or non-Amex Amex.

  • Julio says:

    I book my BA flights at https://travel.americanexpress.co.uk/ and I don’t pay a penny in credit card fees. Besides the fact that you can only pay with an Amex card (any Amex card, not just BA’s), am I missing anything?

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