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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  1. James Smith says:

    BA is a commercial entity and can do what they want with prices for seat selection. I agree that the pricing sucks but I have the option not to pay or to fly with somebody else if I don’t like it. If enough people did that or didn’t pay they might reconsider the policy. I don’t personally pay for seats and it’s the same with the stupid buy on board too.

    Your theory that there are no bad seats with the Club Suite is fine if you don’t mind foot coffins. For those of us who do British Airways was one of the few airlines that you could fly. Strangely my bed at home doesn’t taper at each end and my feet don’t go into a small box. I’ve used seats where your feet are restricted and found sleeping a problem. These will be another reason why British Airways isn’t top of my list of airlines to choose from.

    • Mark2 says:


    • Doug M says:

      I’m not super fussy about any of it, after a lifetime mostly in economy all business is good. But as a status person able to get UD CW on the 747 I rather like BA seats.

    • My bed at home doesn’t require stepping over a stranger to get out of… I’d trade that for a foot cubby any day…

      • Lady London says:

        @Paul you mean you’d like to step over a stranger when you get out of your bed at home? Have I read that right?


    • Lady London says:

      + both reasons. BA isn’t my first choice of airline to fly longhaul and the fact that I would either have to maintain status or pay a truly ridiculous amount for seat selection in J, whereas I know from my corporate life that British Airways hands seat selection free of charge from booking date to corporates, means on principle I communicate my displeasure to British Airways by simply not booking them.

  2. One of the main reasons I no longer book CW on redemptions and stick to First.

    • Bonglim says:

      I agree first is a much better redemption option – just annoying that it is not available on every route.

      • I gave up deciding where I wanted to go and then looking for flights. I now decide when I want to go and check availability for my best option! It’s actually quite good fun. I wouldn’t be going to Moscow in Thursday if i could have had my choice but I’m really looking forward to it now. There are loads of places I have been as a result of crappy Avios availability. I’m not pretending it is a good thing, just explaining how I deal with it.

        • Alex M says:

          If you are in the area try Ukrainian restaurant called Shinok – good food, occasional Ukrainian singers and mini-zoo as extra bonus – went there couple months ago and was impressed! The zoo is behind glass, before you ask about hygiene etc…

  3. KBuffett says:

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to upgrade with Avios for a Qatar ticket?
    Also, how can I check how many BA Tier Points I will get for a Qatar booking?

  4. JP-MCO says:

    Our main redemption route is to Florida. The Orlando / Tampa / Fort Lauderdale routes all go from Gatwick and use the worst planes. I have top tier status with Etihad but not BA because of work so instead we fly to Atlanta or Miami from Heathrow and fly First. It avoids seat fees, we get a nicer seat and more baggage allowance. Also, you can now use the First Flagship dining at Miami if flying First on BA which means unlimited Krug before you board!

    • Ditto Nassau/Grand Cayman (though from LHR), plus the service was pretty poor in CW last time we flew direct. The crew offloaded themselves plus nearly all the F & B in Nassau and the fresh crew nearly threw a hissy fit when I asked for a drink during the remaining 90 minutes of the flight! Much better experience when we’ve been via NYD, IAD and MIA.

  5. Flying LHR-BKK on a 241 voucher in November and they want £87 for each seat, while the very front row was £97 each. No blocked seats when i reserved ours the day the flight became available. I think paying a full fare you shouldn’t have to pay to reserve. Flying LHR-HKG with LH in March and i’ve selected all 8 seats we’ll sit in for free!

    • Luke Collins says:

      What’s the difference in cash fares between the two airlines? Without knowing that, this is a bit of a pointless comment. It might be cheaper with BA for the ticket + seat selection than LH all in.

  6. Andrew says:

    To note that silver/bronze can only select seats for people in their party if they are on the same booking. Gold can select seats for anyone who is travelling in the same cabin as them, even if on a different booking – you’ll need to ring to do this and takes a day or 2 for them to action.

  7. Ralphy says:

    I use my American Airlines Gold (for life) – Oneworld Ruby, to book seats seven days out. Always managed to get two window seats for myself and my wife seven days out. We like to sit separately, but not for any untoward reason 😂.

    However, BA’s policy is just another reason why we would never purchase a Club World seat with cash and we are about to use the last of our Avios. Outta the end of the road but been a great run.

    As relatively young recent retirees, we will now book deals like Lufthansa’s recent deal for couples, black Friday deals, Air France, Iberia when heading west etc but BA will never they my cash-only business. If more people acted with their feet perhaps BA would rethink their strategy, but I doubt it.

    • Doug M says:

      You know who issued those Avios and made a bucket of cash from them?

  8. 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.

    • 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?

  9. 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.

  10. Paul Smith says:

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

  11. 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.

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