British Airways sent out an announcement recently regarding the pricing of ‘extra seats’, often known as ‘comfort seats’.
The archetypal user of an ‘extra seat’ is a musician with a priceless cello or violin, a bride-to-be with her wedding dress (see photo below), an ex-skier with a foot in plaster or a critically obese individual.
In reality, they are also often used by people who want to work on confidential documents (according to BA, although I’m not sure why such a person would not book into Club Europe) and – for the enlightened – people who want to create a Club Europe-type experience at a discount price!
The old pricing for comfort seats
Until last month, you could book an ‘extra seat’ for the ex-tax price of a standard cash seat.
Because of BA’s crazy ‘taxes and charges’ this would often be as little as £5 on a short-haul flight.
You may be wondering why, if you could pay so little to book an empty seat next to you, more people did not do so. Apart from the fact that British Airways keeps them low key, the airline is woefully poor at administering them.
You can only book an ‘extra seat’ by telephone. Once done – and you need to find an agent who can do it, which is not always easy – you cannot relax. Because of the way they are treated in the system, you remain reliant on the ground staff at the airport to block out your additional seat properly and to not move a passenger into it.
I also know people who have turned up at the gate to find that their extra seat is now five rows back from where they are seated themselves. Just about acceptable if it is for your wedding dress, less acceptable if it is for your own personal comfort or privacy.
The new pricing for comfort seats
The days of the £5 ‘extra seat’ are gone.
As of a couple of weeks ago, the minimum price is now £40 return for short-haul flights and £300 return for long-haul flights. The price will be higher if the ex-taxes and surcharges price of the 2nd seat is greater than £40 / £300.
There is one upside to the new pricing. The ‘extra seat’ is now based on the price you paid for your own seat. Under the old system, the price you paid was based on the price at the time the extra seat was requested.
This makes a big difference to, say, accident prone skiers or brides who only decide at the last minute to take their dress onboard. Booking an ‘extra seat’ at the last minute was always very expensive as it was based on the last minute ticket cost. It is now based on what you originally paid for your seat many months ago.
There is one more downside. In long-haul economy BA can no longer guarantee that your seat will have armrests which fully lift (it is not clear which aircraft this refers to) which means that ‘people of size’ are wasting their money buying an additional middle seat. British Airways put out a specific release last week addressing this as it is clearly causing some embarrassment at airports.
You can also no longer buy a spare seat for a double bass if travelling on a short-haul flight, as they will no longer fit due to the ‘enhanced’ legroom in the refurbished planes!
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable 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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.