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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 – Virgin Atlantic, for example, does not charge. 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 November 2023.

Here is part of upstairs:

British Airways A380 upper deck seat pricing

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.

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.

When we last looked at this in January 2023, British Airways had 53 long haul aircraft with the new Club Suite cabin:

  • 13 brand new A350s delivered between 2019 and 2021
  • 5 brand new 787-10s delivered last year
  • 25 777-200ERs that have been refitted
  • 10 777-300s (which also feature the new First Suite)

This equated to 51% (53 of 104) of BA’s long haul aircraft based at Heathrow.  Club Suite is not operated from Gatwick and there are currently no plans to do so.

Work is currently underway on the Boeing 787-8 fleet with all 12 aircraft potentially completed 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.

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

British Airways Club Suite

….. 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 from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)

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 with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

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

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

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. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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.

Comments (140)

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

  • Scottydogg says:

    Ive got a points redemption next month , the 4 of us are flying to Chennia in India on the old CW seats from Heathrow. I wasnt paying for the seat allocation and i dont have status so im just going to have to try for the best 24 hours before the flight.
    I just dont want the backwards middle seat really .

    • Charlie says:

      The middle seats at the end of the cabin are worth going for, no one to jump over and it’s fairly private. That’s usually the only time I go for the middle.

  • Mayfair Mike says:

    It’s a great model – if needy people want to pay for seat selection and effectively subsidise my fare then great.
    Personally I’ve never understood the obsession with good or bad seats in biz – they are all much of a muchness (apart from the baby/cw/Cs scenario).
    I guess I’m an outlier in that I don’t have a weak bladder like some on here who complain about access to the toilets.
    I’m also not 5 years old so couldn’t care less about looking at basically clouds 9r sky so don’t need a window seat.
    If I’m tired I can sleep, if not I don’t…an aisle seat is hardly a busy thoroughfare on a night flight so causes me no issues.
    Finally I’m not insular or some sort of recluse – sitting next to another human being doesn’t bother me one bit and don’t mind having a friendly chat.

    Very happy for needy couples to shell out 100 quid/head 👍

    • Gavin says:

      You don’t have to be 5 years old to enjoy sightseeing from the sky. I find it fascinating seeing places that I’ve been, and places that I’ll probably never go (flew over Mogadishu a few years ago). I’ve seen some amazing sunsets, meteorites and displays of aurora from my window seat. I’ll always get one if I can.

      • CarpalTravel says:

        Agreed! Also, some of my favourite photos (and scrolling computer wallpapers) are photos taken from a window seat.

        It is amazing how some people can be so utterly joyless.

        • Mayfair Mike says:

          Perfectly fine. If you want to pay for the “privilege”, go ahead. Others such as myself couldn’t care less so we are more than happy for you to subsidise our fares, however indirectly that may be. We also have the confidence and social acumen to interact with other human beings.
          It’s these privacy-centric weirdos who scare me. What on earth do they need “privacy” for? Do they equally book out full carriages on trains? Or sections of their office?
          Probably need their hard drives checking!
          Unless you’re a serious VIP or need governmental or financial markets security around you I fail to see the point, but again, very happy for them to pay for this perceived privilege!

    • mvcvz says:

      Mayfair Mike. Couldn’t agree more with every last word.

    • Stagger Lee says:

      some people need easy access to toilets for other reasons that having a ‘weak bladder’.

    • SeasonedFlyer86 says:

      Thanks Mayfair Mike, you’re doing the Lord’s work. Leaving the best seats for those who can afford them, whilst you happily accept mediocrity. Top man!

      But, please stop talking us to when we do sit next to you, I know you think it’s the case but nobody wants your “friendly chat”. Much obliged.

      • Mayfair Mike says:

        Another hfp recluse needing “privacy” pipes up.

        • Roy Harrop says:

          It’s very annoying that I have to pay extra to nab a window seat to avoid someone like you, Mayfair Mike. I’m very happy to chose who I talk to on a flight, which is usually no one except my wife or the cabin crew. Noise-cancelling earbuds help, but there’s nothing like a large pair of over-ear phones to give a boring chatterbox bulging with ‘confidence’ and ‘social acumen’ a clue that I don’t want to hear his (or her) stories.

    • Andy says:

      Some people have medical conditions that require fast access to toilets, lucky for you that you have such a strong bladder, and you don’t have to be 5 to enjoy a view, you sound like a barrel of laughs and I’d defo seat select to be away from somone as unenthusiastic as you

    • NRGwynne says:

      I love it – me too !

  • Jack says:

    It is a great system offering seat selection free of charge for those who fly enough to earn status or book last minute. Many airlines charge as well and you can select a seat 24hrs before for free if you do not wish to pay

  • Johan meert says:

    If you’re flying regularly in business class (more than 2 return intercontinental flights) and uses the same airline (or its partners), you will have at least bronze status (and more likely have silver).

  • Kevin says:

    Tip!

    If booking a Club World redemption using Avios you can add an extra passenger who happens to be BAEC Gold. That will allow you to select seats at time of booking for all passengers. Then contact BA at least 24 hours before travel and pay the £35 cancellation fee for cancelling that passenger’s ticket.

    Obviously you will need to a) have enough Avios (and cash!) for that extra person and b) know a Gold member who is willing to allow you to do this.

  • David says:

    I noticed the two flights LHR to Hong Kong now had one aircraft with the old sardine business class, and the other the new suites. I compared the prices, and the suites return fare was approx £1000 more. Money grabbing as ever.

  • AJames says:

    Have no issue paying to reserve a seat. What I do have issue with is that it is non refundable. If you cancel a flight then the seat reservation is also cancelled. Instead of a refund BA pockets the money for the seat reservation and then offers or sells the seat again. There is no possible justification for this questionable business practise.

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