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!
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?!
……. and the upper deck, all at £91:
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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