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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 (January 2021)

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There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

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Comments (179)

  • Gerry H says:

    Why does a “former” premium carrier like BA act like a cheap “Easyjet” carrier even when booking business seats? Utterly ridiculous.
    This has certainly made me state I will not travel on my country’s flag flyer. The Middle East airlines knock them into a cocked hat. No doubt it’s because of the background of the CEO.

    • Michael says:

      Thats what happens when you’ve basically got a legal monopoly over the Atlantic.

    • Anna says:

      That’s unfair to Easyjet – I have a renewed liking for LCCs, used my “bonus” Lloyds upgrade voucher for CE from MAN-LHR-VIE for my sister and me and booked to fly direct back to MAN with Easyjet. Cost each for flight, seat selection and a checked bag was £54.

    • JAXBA says:

      It’s optional, and priced at a level to dissuade you from paying for seating, but to still allow you to do so if you wish.

    • ChrisC says:

      ‘national flag carriers’ is such an outdated concept.

      It was Willie Walsh who introduced these fees not Alex Cruz.

      Fly on an airline that suits the needs of your trip and price / service. There are several that fly London – NYC. AA currently offers a better seat / service BA (ironically it was BA who insisted they install flat beds as part of the Joint Venture …)

    • marcw says:

      Selecting seats for free doesn’t make an airline “premium”. If BA charges those amounts for seat selection, it’s because some/many pax are willing to pay for it. It’s also an incentive to be a FF, because with just Bronze, you can select seats for free 7 days in advance, compared to regular pax at check-in.

  • 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.

    • Paul says:

      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.

  • Nick says:

    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.

      • Nick says:

        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…

  • 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?

  • 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!

    • Anna says:

      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.

  • Alex says:

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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?