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

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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!


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2022)

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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

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

30,000 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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

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

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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 🙂

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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