Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Want to keep your middle seat free? British Airways increases the cost

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

Wedding dress

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!


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 – 30,000 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

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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 (23)

  • Alan says:

    On an A320 EDI-LHR tonight with the new seats. Amusingly a few errant Club Europe headrest covers had been left in place! Just to confirm though, the armrests lifted up.

    Made use of the tablet/magazine holder on the back of the seat in front though, was great for iPlayer 🙂

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.