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Does British Airways charge for seat selection?

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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, you can now secure your preferred spot in advance if you pay.

Does British Airways charge for seat selection?

(If you are travelling on a hand baggage-only fare and do not have British Airways elite status, the process is slightly different. You will be allocated a seat at random when you check in. If you do not like this seat, you can pay to change it.)

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 official BA website page outlining the seating rules is here.

How much does British Airways charge to select a seat?

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.

British Airways has now removed the price list from its website, but when they did publish guideline costs this is what they were (price is per one way flight, all are ‘from’ and can be substantially higher than shown):

  • Euro Traveller (economy short haul) – £7
  • Word Traveller (economy long haul) – standard £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.

Does British Airways charge for seat selection?

British Airways does not deliberately split up families

Unlike some low cost carriers which deliberately split up groups if they choose not to pay, British Airways WILL try to seat everyone on the same ticket together when check-in opens.

Civil Aviation Authority rules also restrict how far you can be seated from your children, although there is no legal requirement to seat you next to them.

Should you pay to reserve a British Airways seat in Business Class?

If you are flying in Club World business class and your flight has the new Club Suite, pictured above, 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.

You can also avoid seat selection fees if you have elite status with any other oneworld alliance airline, such as American Airlines or Qatar Airways.

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.

You can find out more on the BA website page outlining the seating rules here.

(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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How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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 £15,000 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

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