Does British Airways charge for seat selection, and in what classes?
Like most airlines, British Airways now charges customers for early seat selection. In this article we’ll look at what the costs are and how you can get around them.
Since 2009, British Airways has allowed customers to reserve seats at the time of booking instead of only 24 hours before departure. Whilst seat selection is still free 24 hours before departure (unless you have a hand baggage-only fare, where you will be allocated a seat at random if you have no BA status), you can now secure your preferred spot in advance if you pay.
What is rare is that British Airways charges for seat selection in Premium Economy / World Traveller Plus and Club World / Business Class. Very few airlines dare do this. Only First Class is immune from charging.
The cost of seat selection depends on your class of travel, destination and whether you choose a seat with premium features such as extra legroom, for example. Here is the list of prices, taken from the British Airways website (price is per flight):
Euro Traveller (economy short haul) – from £7
Word Traveller (economy long haul) – standard from £20, twin seats £30, exit row £50
World Traveller Plus (premium economy long haul) – £18, exit row £50
Club Europe (business class short haul) – £14
Club World (business class long haul) – £62
First – seat selection is always free at time of booking
In reality, these prices are “available from” prices. Seat selection in economy can reach £70 or more on a flight from London to Los Angeles, for example – a ludicrous amount given that you’re only reserving a seat and not getting any additional benefits or service. It often makes little sense unless you are desperate to secure a specific seat.
If you are flying in Club World business class and your flight has the new Club Suite, we strongly recommend NOT paying to reserve a seat. The Club Suite seats are virtually identical and all have direct aisle access. Because each seat is an enclosed suite, there is no benefit to being next to your partner either. This HfP article will help you see if your aircraft type is likely to have Club Suite or not.
If you hold British Airways Executive Club status, you are able to avoid these fees. You can read about whether you can select British Airways seats for free as a Bronze, Silver or Gold member in this article.
It is unlikely that you will be able to sit in Row 1, irrespective of whether you are willing to pay. This article explains the rules for sitting in the front row on British Airways.
(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works. You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )
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