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Have you seen what it costs to reserve a British Airways Club World business class seat these days?

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One thing that often surprises people who are travelling in Club World for the first time is that seat reservations are not free at the time of booking.

British Airways is one of the few airlines that charges its business class passengers an additional fee to reserve a seat.

The only exceptions are if you (or someone in your party) hold Executive Club Silver or Gold status or oneworld equivalent – see details here – or if you have a fully flexible ticket.  Bronze cardholders can select seats for free seven days before departure.  Some people also get the fee waived as part of a corporate deal with their employer.

For the rest of us, all seats are made available at no additional charge 24 hours before departure, but by this time many of the best seats have already been snapped up.  In Club World, you may be stuck sharing a ‘double bed’ middle pair with a stranger.

Reserving a seat is not a particularly cheap affair.  Without Executive Club status reserving a seat used to cost £60+ in Club World, and frequently more.

British Airways appears to have changed its pricing structure in recent weeks.  On a Boeing 747 to New York, there are now SIX different prices available, running from £59 to £91.  This is per person, each way, meaning that a couple is facing a ludicrous £364 cost to reserve upper deck seats next to each other for a return flight.

I should also point out that these are New York prices, for a 6-7 hour flight.  You will pay more on longer routes.

What does it cost to reserve a Club World seat?

Let’s use a Boeing 747 as an example.  Here is the pricing for the front of the cabin (click to enlarge) based on a flight to New York in September 2019.

As you might expect, the window pairs are more expensive than those in the middle, with prices increasing towards the front of the cabin. The price differential is just over £30. On the main deck of a 747 you can pay £87 for front side seats whilst rear centre is £59. On the top deck BA charges £91!

BA Club World Seat reservation prices front main deck

Here is the rear part of the downstairs cabin – some of this makes little sense to me.  Does BA charge a premium for the ‘front middle’ because you have a better chance of getting the meal you want?

BA Club World Seat reservatin prices rear main deck

……. and the upper deck, all at £91:

BA Club World Seat reservation prices top deck

Flying Club Suite could save you money

Seat reservations may become less relevant once the new Club Suite starts flying on the new A350s and refitted Boeing 777s later this year:

In theory there are no bad seats with Club Suite.  The current Club World layout delivers a huge variety of travel experiences since the dense layout means many people do not have direct aisle access, are facing backwards or do not have much privacy.

With Club Suite, the experience becomes more uniform in its offering and you may not care as much where you sit.  All seats have aisle access and someone in the middle block is sat totally separately to their neighbour. 

You can’t easily talk to your partner even if you are sat side by side, so it doesn’t matter much if you are separated – and other passengers should have few problems moving to help you if you are.  Unless you are obsessed with having a window seat, there seems little to justify paying.

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

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Comments (179)

  • Tracy says:

    I have flight from LGW to LIM and return CUN to LGW in June/July 2019. Outward charges from £74 to £91 but there are a decent amount of seats left, although not many window pairs which would be my preference. However, the return flight from CUN as it only has 32 CW seats is not looking as good. Only 14 unreserved seats with 6 of them solo seats, I am travelling with my partner. There are only 2 window pairs and back row 4 in the middle left and these may be taken by bronze etc., I am lowly blue. I am not very hopeful with this one but I refuse to pay between £89 and £103 each to choose our seats and will sit separate if necessary……no option of booking first either which I would have considered.

    • john says:

      Are you sure the seats are occupied and not blocked off as unavailable by BA’s Theoretical Seating?

      • Tracy says:

        I have no idea…..just going on what is available for me to purchase?

  • Brighton Belle says:

    Curious, was just trying OLCI for a flight to JFK from LGW and ANY change of allocated seat is going to be charged at £24. You will accept what is allocated to you. EasyJet thinking. Nice airline BA. Fair enough I did only pay £280 return so have to accept the deal. In the old days you could move around a bit. But it does make you think to try somebody else. I will try self checkin at LGW and maybe they’ll have a different policy when there’s no takers.

    • Catalan says:

      ..and therein is the problem. You’re paying ‘easyJet’ prices for a NYC return ticket but complain you’re not getting Singapore Airlines’ type service.

      • Brighton Belle says:

        Fair enough. Of course I wasn’t expecting Singapore Airlines service. Over the last 20 years BA gave you seat selection in the last 24 hours for free for BA Blue. Now they don’t if you’re an economy passenger. It just doesn’t encourage me to spend money with them when I have a choice… but Gatwick is convenient. I accept the cost per flying hour is comparable to EasyJet winter Sunday 7am pricing. If their ticketing model becomes like Ryanair where every component of the trip is priced I’ll go somewhere else in Europe. The experience ends up feeling mean minded. Bad enough I am squirting 2 tons of CO2 into the upper atmosphere which is an entire year’s budget.

  • Paul Smith says:

    As s BA gold I find this a great perk and love been able to get my preferred seats.

  • xcalx says:

    Just looked at our MAD-LHR leg for Thursday no seats allocated and only showing one seat in CE. Gather they must have allocated 2 seats somewhere ? The one seat remaining is 41 euros for row 11.

  • Nick Knight says:

    or just travel with a baby and you get to pick your baby seat regardless of BA level, even top deck, though we go Fot the central facing backwards seats to create own little play pen.

    • Lous says:

      What does “fot” mean?
      Also what are the best seats if you have a baby?

  • Mud Island Mlungu says:

    OT: – Can I ask why one doesn’t earn 2 leg’s worth of tier points for LHR-SYD via SIN? The calculator shows F as 360 Tier points one way but when looking at the legs separately it shows LHR-SIN 240 and SIN-SYD 210 giving 450 one way. Thanks

    • Lady London says:

      If same flight number it counts as one flight for tier points even if it stops one way.

      • Mud Island Mlungu says:

        Thanks Lady London. Any idea why this is?

        • Lady London says:

          So far as the airline is concerned it will be a refuelling stop but still same flight from start to end destination if same flight number. Just follow Rob’s suggestion or take any other flight from the ‘refuelling point’ instead. Likely to change price a bit though but not necesssrily negatively.

    • Rob says:

      If you stay on the aircraft it is one flight. Stay in SIN and get the next BA flight and it counts as two.

      • ChrisC says:

        But you don’t stay on the aircraft. You have to get off (with all your carry on bags etc) and go through security again (perhaps if you are eligible and quick manage a shower in the lounge) whilst they clean and restock the plane for the leg to SYD

        It’s the flight number that is the controlling factor.

  • Mark says:

    IIRC – Lon to Syd were asking £131 each way per seat at the front of the J cabin on a 777. I was pretty insulted.

  • Andy Le says:

    Even worse…. 1 hour 15 minute flight NAS-GCM on 777, 80 USD to 90 USD to reserve a seat in Club World

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