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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 (January 2022)

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

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

There are special sign-up bonuses on both of the BA American Express cards until 28th February 2022. The bonus on the free card is doubled to 10,000 Avios and the bonus on the Premium Plus card is increased from 25,000 Avios to a huge 40,000 Avios.

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios (SPECIAL OFFER) and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

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

Nectar American Express

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

30,000 points 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 30,000 Avios.

30,000 Avios is a special offer which runs to 4th February 2022.

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

30,000 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 45,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

45,000 Avios is a special offer which runs to 28th February 2022.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

45,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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)

  • Richie says:

    How many bad CS seats are there on a B781 and A350?

  • Rma says:

    Rhys, when you reviewed BA seats, some time ago, did you include the 787-10? I can’t seem to find any reference to it.
    Do you have any tips ? I think some window seats on certain flights had restricted view or were missing windows, and some had three windows.

    • FatherOfFour says:

      The Aerolopa website will give you a detailed and accurate plan showing window layout on each aircraft type and subfleet.

  • Nick says:

    As I’ve said before, paid-for seating is actually a significant Gold benefit (albeit not advertised that way!) and always one of the top features when BA asks its high value customers what they like about BAEC. There are lots of customers who buy expensive last-minute tickets on BA specifically because they know there’ll be decent seats left for them to book, rather than being left with the dregs they’d get on a ‘nice’ airline that doesn’t charge at time of booking. It’s a remarkably clever piece of revenue engineering, and helps to keep fares lower for the cheapskates.

    • Mikeact says:

      Sorry to be a one of the cheapskates. I was Gold for years, flying around the World, and then retirement loomed and was gradually relegated down the ranks to ‘just a customer.’
      At least my other regular business airline, KLM, did recognise me, ‘Premium Elite for Life.’
      We just have to wait patiently for the 24hrs to kick in nowadays, but then ,all we ask is, please just get us there, safely .

  • James Harper says:

    If BA prices for seat booking are high, Finnair have jumped on this bandwagon too and their prices are eye watering.

    My solution is not to book with an airline that charges for seats in the premium cabins even if I have status that will waive the cost. It’s a slippery slope of introducing charges like this and I will have no part of it. In this case the only losers are BA and Finnair, I don’t need to fly with either of them and they won’t miss me.

    As BCal used to say ‘we never forget you have a choice’. I exercise mine!

  • @mkcol says:

    Dropped to silver this year, booked YYZ/YVR open jaw for June next year and they’re charging fees for exit row/front row of Y cabin (on the outbound) – was somewhat surprised, is that right?

  • Rma says:

    To Father of four, thank you for advice to use Aerolopa.

  • Nick says:

    Hi, my gf and I are flying to the US in Club World next year, booked with points and a companion voucher. Neither of us have flown business before so we want it to be special/sit together etc, but would I be a mug to pay £100 – £129 each to reserve ‘good seats’ on a 388?

  • FatherOfFour says:

    The Avios offer last summer just about made this worthwhile. I think it worked out about 9000 Avios for a pair of legacy CW seats – roughly half price (or double value) if you value an Avios at 1p.
    Ordinarily, Avios is terrible value (about 0.5p per £)
    I would possibly stretch to cash one way to try a window pair, assuming as “blues” we’d be allocated a less favourable pair otherwise.

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