British Airways Ridiculous Policy on Seat Selection

It’s not surprise that airlines are trying all kinds of different ways to make a buck or two on their flights. Margins are tightening and finding new and innovative ways to generate income is understandable. But British Airways, or BA for short, takes this to what I deem to be a ridiculous new level.

British Airways First Class

British Airways First Class

If you were to fly on Spirit, Frontier or Southwest, you’d expect to not be able to get a seat assignment. As low cost carriers, they don’t offer that as a free service so if you want that luxury, fork over some extra cash. But being on a flight on BA is now going to cause you the same headache… and not only for coach flights, not just for Premium Economy flights for Business Class (and some First Class) flights too!

Would you like to choose your seat?

BA’s Policy

Here’s the details on their policy, depending on where you’re sitting in the plane:

Economy (World Traveller, Euro Traveller)

  • Standard seats on our UK domestic and European flights start from £7/€8/$11 in Euro Traveller, and on longer international flights from £20/€24/$30 in World Traveller.
  • Twin seats are available on selected longer international flights in World Traveller starting from £30/€36/$45 per seat.
  • Exit row seats are available on longer international flights in World Traveller starting from £50/€60/$75. You will have to meet certain safety requirements to sit in an exit row seat.
  • Bulkhead seats are usually reserved for customers with a disability, or those travelling with an infant (under 2 years) as this is where the fold-down cot tables are positioned, so it may not be possible to reserve these seats.

Premium economy (World Traveller Plus)

  • Standard seats in World Traveller Plus start from £18/€22/$27.
  • Exit row seats are available on longer international flights in World Traveller Plus starting from £50/€60/$75. You will have to meet certain safety requirements to sit in an exit row seat.
  • Bulkhead seats are usually reserved for customers with a disability, or those travelling with an infant (under 2 years) as this is where the fold-down cot tables are positioned, so it may not be possible to reserve these seats.

This one hurts…Business (Club World, Club Europe)

  • Seats on our short haul flights in Club Europe start from £14/€17/$21.
  • On longer international flights, seats in Club World start from £62/€74/$93.

First Class Itineraries

We recently booked a flight in First Class (long haul) with two intra-europe Business (Club Europe) segments. While we were allowed to book our seats together for First Class (since First Class is always free) we were forced to pay for the flight in Club Europe, EVEN THOUGH it was on the same itinerary and connecting to a long-haul. That’s not just ridiculous it’s down right rude.

After paying thousands of dollars for a first class experience where they will serve champagne and give you massages inside the airport lounge, you still have to fork over $28 for a stupid freaking seat assignment? No f-ing way.

I have to pay!?

How to avoid the fee

There are, of course, ways to avoid paying the fee. If you’re an elite member with OneWorld or BA there are certain waivers, ranging from the time of booking to 7 days out. 

How to Avoid Paying

I called in and had my American Airlines number added to the reservation (I’m Oneworld Sapphire) and then made my seat selections. I hung up, called back, and had them switch my number back to my Alaska number. Bingo! Free seats and I still get to have my Alaska miles credit. Win win!

This is just really bad form…

Come on British Airways… you can do better. There’s no reason to charge someone flying in Business Class (or Club world/Europe as you call it) for a seat assignment. The world of unbundling should stop at business class, even though your seats really aren’t that great, you could at least try and incentivize people to fly with you.

What do you think? Do you see a problem with charging seat assignments for business or first class?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. There is also another problem with BA premium class seating and it is on Inter-European flights. Business class is a joke. It is six-across economy seating where they don’t sell the middle seats. To be fair, Air France does the same thing and calling this kind of seating Business Class is a joke. As bad as the U. S. carriers are, they would never try to pass economy seating as business class. We are flying in April from SEA to LHR in first class, on to EDI and had to pay for seat assignments in Business Class. Shouldn’t premium class fares include a no-charge seat assignment? Sad . . .

    Post a Reply
    • I agree – it is sad. And it’s not anywhere near business class. I’m a tall dude and my poor knees were in pain.

      I will say that they did throw up a curtain and not allow people into the biz cabin, more than I can say for First class on US airlines.

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  2. Nothing BA does to make extra money surprises me anymore.

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    • Completely agree. We will NEVER FLY BA AGAIN – so many PLEASANT options for US/LHR routes.

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  3. It’s a bad policy particularly for business class – but it’s always been like this and it’s not news. They are not the only airline to do this but it’s still very annoying I agree. Personally I think it’s bad form in PE too. I do wonder why Americans fly BA because to be frank you guys on Boarding Area do nothing but complain about BA ALL THE TIME. If it’s such a bad deal then just stop flying them and stop reviewing them. Or are they just so important as far as the points game is concerned that you guys won’t do that?

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    • If I fly BA Premium Economy international, getting more EQD and miles. In addition, the food is better than on AA business class. Two weeks ago on flight AA50 (DFW->LHR) business class, my kosher meal had ice in it. When I complained, not even proper apology. I’m ExPlatinum since 2000, consider switching to another carrier, or keep flying BA and AA domestic and keep my Emerald.

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    • people fly BA because the general belief is that US carriers suck so any alternative must be better, but this is usually false.

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      • I’ve been happy with Delta, but AA’s international service has been a sad state of affairs.

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    • Old to you, not to others.

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  4. My wife and I booked LHR to ORD first class on 5th. November 2017 with feeders CE to and from LBA. The feeder flights included free seat reservation in the CE flights. Shortly after BA changed the ORD to LHR flight time, no problem. Shortly after that BA cancelled both the feeder flights and arbitrarily assigned us flights that were no longer convenient to us (I assume these cancellations were due to BA taking the aircraft for their new services out of old Monarch slots. I noticed then that the CE seats were no longer assigned and that BA were requesting £14.00 per seat per leg. Customer Relations arranged for us to change our feeder flights to Manchester at convenient times to us, although we now have to pay for a hotel, but now the MAN to LHR seats cost at least £14.00 per passenger and the return leg now says “seat assignment at gate”. I have been in constant touch with CR to ascertain a reason but no one answered my question. Now I know why presumably policy changed sometime between 5th.November and 7th. December when BA cancelled to two fights from and to LBA.

    BA have made 6 further changes to our booking including airplane designations and departure times.

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  5. Hmmmm. What ever happened to those Robert Morley adverts, “We’ll take more care of you…” Now it seems… “We’ll take more care of your wallet…” And, to heck with any DVT concerns…pack the louts in like sardines (apologies the the little guys). It seems “Speedbird” is bent on reducing itself to airborne mediocrity.

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  6. My Delta economy flight from DTW to LHR was far more pleasant than my BA flight in premium from LHR to DEN and much better service.

    BA service was indifferent and poor.

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  7. Flew BA in December from Bud-LHR-PHX. I used miles to fly Business class ( a lot of miles) for the two of us. After I made my reservations , I then called BA to get a seat assignment nad was told I had to pay over $250 to get a seat assignment . My response was WHAT, in business ??? Plus I had to pay over $ 650 for airport fees because We are going through LHR. I guess robbery is leagal at airlines in the London area , or at least at Heathrow. End of story, BUD-LHR fligt 2 hrs late ( not their falt, weather) but coach seat with center blocked, very nice service. LHR unbelievable… Worst experience I have ever had…rude staff, and made us walk at least 2.5 miles to to change gates,go through security 3 repeat 3 times. Requested cart for my wife AND WAS REFUSED, because “ we are to busy “ only good thing was BA lounge was very nice. Bottom line.. I will NOT fly BA ever again. I will NEVER go through LHR again.

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    • Sorry I didn’t proof read before hitting post

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    • LHR really does suck – I’ll give you that 🙂

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  8. BA SUCKS! Just had an AA ticket changed due to an AA schedule change. Flights not until October, but the over $300 paid for (ransom) seat reservations on BA not refunded because it was an AA ticket. Just crap! Have used BA for years and have put up with their seat ransom because their cabin service has been good, but NO more. NEVER will fly BA again….

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  9. Paid extra for exit row seats on four legs of an international flight. None of the seat maps were correct so I ended up paying $180 for nothing.

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    • I’d dispute the charge on your card

      Post a Reply


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