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Do you know the cost of reserving a British Airways Club World business class seat?

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One thing that often surprises people who are travelling in British Airways 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. It also charges for Economy and Premium Economy, of course. Only First Class is free.

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.

British Airways Club World seat fees

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.

Over the last few years, seat selection fees have gone through the roof.  On an A380 flight to Dubai, 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 the best seats next to each other for a return flight.

I should also point out that these are Dubai 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 an Airbus A380 as an example.  Here is the pricing for the upper and lower decks (click to enlarge) for a Dubai flight in early December.

Here is upstairs:

BA a380 seat map

As you might expect, the window pairs are more expensive than those in the middle.

Here is the cheaper downstairs cabin. Again, the window seats are pricier than the middle block unless you want the two pairs at the back.

BA A380 cabin

The price differential from cheapest to priciest seat is £32.

Flying the new Club Suite could save you money

There is some good news.

Seat reservations in business class are becoming less relevant now that the new Club Suite is operating more and more routes. As we covered in this article, you will currently find Club Suite on the new A350 and 787-10 fleets as well as refitted Boeing 777s.

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.

If you are booked on a 777 and the business class layout looks like this:

….. then you are getting Club Suite. Save your money and don’t pay to book a seat.

With Club Suite, the experience becomes more uniform in its offering. 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 in the middle block, even with the divider down, 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 to choose a seat when in Club Suite.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (83)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Yuff says:

    We have this problem at Easter, to Dubai, I may have to try and get reduced silver now my membership year reset yesterday.

  • Catalan says:

    As a former Silver card holder I thought this was a great idea. It prevented all those ‘occasional’ British Airways passengers from pinching all the best seats before me. It also rewarded my loyalty! . Now I’ve dropped to a lowly Bronze I’m less inclined to think that way lol. At least I still have that 7 days before departure advantage (for now).
    In any case, those worried about not being able to sit together, the system always allocates seats together at time of reservation. It just doesn’t let you know it’s done that.

    • Yuff says:

      Is there any way to find out what seat you have been allocated?

    • AndyW says:

      It might soft hold something, but it can’t do anymore because all the seats are bookable by those with status. Been split up from my partner in club a couple of times on routes that are heavy with business travel.

  • Gerry says:

    It amazes me that people actually PAY these fees. (Unless your company is paying for you). As a casual family user these days, I’d rather travel with an alternative airline. Just another example of the modern day rip off British Airways. “Used to be Everyone’s Favourite Airline”

    • tony says:

      This. Booked a trip to the US next year. Flying out EI in J and back on AA in W, largely to avoid this circus. And before anyone chimes in with “but IAG own EI and the revenues are split on the TATL JBA” or some such, whilst that is indeed the case, we have already been guaranteed seats together without handing over a small fortune to BA (or me trying to find an excuse to get the 170TPs I need for silver)

    • John says:

      Going by how often complaints pop up by infrequent BA flyers on flyertalk, where the same posters post the same things they did on the previous thread, many people do actually pay these fees.

      Which company would pay for seat selection, where it isn’t included in the corporate deal? Does choosing a particular seat make you more effective at your job after landing?

      Sometimes the justification is that the “alternative airline”, which offers free seat selection, is more expensive than BA even after paying for seat selection.

    • Doug M says:

      Good to see so many people claim they don’t use BA but love to comment on all aspects of their service/product.

  • Susan says:

    Can’t wait for this prison chic design period to be over.

  • Vicki says:

    Passengers requiring wheelchair assistance and their companions in same PNR are also exempt from the seat booking fees. Obviously a wheelchair user needs an aisle seat (particularly one needing WCHC assistance as my husband requires) so needs to be guaranteed the right seat. This isn’t a open invitation for people to start using wheelchair services, please keep that for those who need it!

    • Bonglim says:

      Please keep that for those who need it!

      • Fiona says:

        Exactly! I’m profoundly deaf and need my husband next to me to relay any info from PA system to what the CC are asking me. It is on my BAEC profile so CC know if an emergency happens and they need to alert me. The free booking is not there for BAEC to abuse the system and BAEC should come down heavy-handed on those who do.

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      I’m also a wheelchair user, I don’t know if this still happens but on easy jet they would put me in a window seat when I asked why I was told in case of an emergency I wouldn’t hold up the evacuation.
      The amount of people who abuse the assistance system is already high. Same people who park in disabled parking spaces because they are only going to be a few minutes, or use their dead aunts blue badge for parking.

      • Doug M says:

        Clearly you’re expendable as far as Easy are concerned.

      • Jody says:

        I’m hoping that was just an idiotic troll last night rather than someone who was serious about using their dead Aunt’s badge.

      • Lyn says:

        It isn’t actually just Easy Jet. I think it a safety rule which probably applies to all airlines. BA also have to assign window seats if you have to use the small onboard aisle wheelchair to board and disembark from the plane.

        • Vicki says:

          No it’s usually an aisle seat, it’s potentially dangerous for the handlers to lift a person over two seats to get to the window. I used to work for the assistance desk at an airline and it was always an aisle seat and only one with a moveable arm rest.

      • Vicki says:

        Well that’s puts me off flying Easy with the husband. Thanks for sharing. So it’s not important to get all passengers off. I can’t roll my eyes any harder tbh

  • ChrisC says:

    Just to clarify but for Silver your party need to be on the same booking as the card holder.

    Golds can get free seating for people flying with them in the same cabin but on separate bookings by calling BA and asking for them to TCP (total complete party). This is a manual process so you need to tell BA what seats you want and you then can’t change them in MMB.

  • Dc says:

    The cost for me trying to book open jaw flights with vouchers is expensive, have only managed to get through once to be told “can’t do voucher bookings at the moment”. Four of us traveling first to the states, back from different location in business using Amex vouchers.

    Is there any other number I can use other than the 0844 number?

    • ChrisC says:

      Don’t ever use 0844 numbers for a start!

      As you want to book F you can try the You First number,

      • Bonglim says:

        I think you can get through to the same place by just using 0344 instead of 0844.
        Officially it is the number for changing flights – but worked for me before.

        Another good trick is to call an ‘international’ number which is actually a UK number. If you change your country to Iran for example it is actually a UK +44 number. Just only open during Iran hours.

      • DC says:

        I’d not heard of you First
        thanks – that worked, though still a half hour wait to get through.

    • John says:

      Do you mean amex FTVs or 241s? Amex FTVs have to be booked with Amex travel.

  • Sara says:

    If you book flights when you are a Bronze member and then become a Silver member are you able to go into all upcoming bookings and select seats for free? I’m now a Silver member but if I want to reserve seats on my existing future bookings I have to pay!

    • ChrisC says:

      When did you become silver?

      • Sara says:

        Last week – it should have been the end of last month but I’m still missing 40 points from an Iberia flight and 280 from a BA holiday double tier points offer!
        I don’t think the executive club links are working at the moment to claim points.

    • John says:

      Wait a while for the system to catch up, otherwise remove your BA number and add it back (using Finnair, Qantas or royal Jordanian websites)

    • Milly says:

      Yes you can, I did exactly the same for a flight in April 2022 when I went from bronze to silver last month. Just give it a couple days after you turn silver (slow systems).

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