Cranky on the Web: Anger at Preferred Seating Fees

Cranky on the Web, Seats

Skyrocketing seat selection fees enrage flyers, enrich airlinesUSA Today
I was interviewed for this article about seat fees, and as I’ve written before, I strongly dislike them.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

13 comments on “Cranky on the Web: Anger at Preferred Seating Fees

  1. I stopped traveling by commercial airlines for work about 5 years ago. I was traveling throughout the USA and Canada fairly regularly as a sales engineer for a gas turbine engine test equipment company, and any upgrades to a basic coach ticket (plus the fee for one checked bag) came out of my pocket. I never flew the ultra-low cost carriers because once I added what I wanted to the basic price, it wasn’t significantly cheaper to use them over a regular carrier.

    Other than hoping to score an upgrade to first class through a loyalty program, booking a decent seat was easy. I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with “cabin segmentation” and all of the other ways airlines are using to squeeze more money out of passengers.

  2. People also need to beware when booking through an online travel agent like Expedia or Travelocity that they do NOT need to pay extra for a seat assignment. I work in Reservations for a major carrier, and I get several calls a week from customers who have paid such a fee who are then directed by those agencies to either call us or to go to our website for the seat assignments. But they could get those seat assignments without paying a fee to the agency on our website, or they will have to pay me a fee over the phone for me to work in an agency booking. And if they want a paid seat they still have to pay for that as well. In other words, the online travel agencies are charging them a junk fee for something they can easily get themselves once they have their tickets. It doesn’t get them anything extra or bypass the airline preferred or upgraded seat fees.

  3. Disgusting.The public are being treated unfairly, the airlines make enough profit.
    If we fly where do they expect us to sit.
    Fares are expensive enough.
    Hilda Raby.

    1. @hildaraby –

      Okay, I’ll bite. The airlines make “enough profit”? How much is “enough”, in your esteemed opinion? Are you going to give a dollar amount, or a percentage of yield? What other industries would you like to put an arbitrary profit cap on?

      Let me nibble on your claim that airfares are “expensive enough” as well. Adjusted for inflation, the average airfare (including fees), is half of what it was in 1980. Half. As in 50% less. Oh, and here’s my source, which is full of sources for the research and facts they published:

      The fact is, airfare is cheap, and the airlines have figured out how provide it at a profit. Would you like the type of service we had prior to deregulation? You can have it. By paying a higher fare.

      1. So the never ending airline business model is continually finding new ways to treat customers like dirt. A truly wonderful model. Munoz and Parker wake up and think, “How can I p#ss off more customers today?”

  4. Here’s one of the most telling lines: “American says its reservation system automatically sits an adult and child younger than age 14 without seat assignments together 48 hours after ticketing so the child won’t be seated alone.” I had a similar experience with KLM and Air France over the summer: As a family of 5 we opted to take our chances and not pay for seats, only to find out at check-in that we were already seated together. So the airlines (or at least some airlines) do have reasonable policies for seating families together, but they do not publish these policies and thus get passengers to pay for advance seating.

    1. You are the BEST advisor of the actual facts, not fake facts.
      God bless you and all your loved ones for a Happy,Healthy,joyful year with great times and memories!!
      Hilda Raby.

  5. Big take away from the article: Preferred does not have the same meaning as Premium which is the extra legroom zone of cabin in from of economy cabin. Now if they start doing Preferred within Premium, that will be messy. Plus Premium was not selectable until well into reservation process so you don’t even know if it’s available.

  6. Why doesn’t everyone just do what southwest does. No seat assignments and No baggage fees. Nice and simple and easy to understand and fast boarding. They should also use both doors if they have them. So boarding and deplaning are twice as fast. Jet Blue did this at Grand Cayman Island and it was very fast. At southwest, handicapped board first, then familys with children, then everyone else. Nice and simple.

    1. Jo, You got this correct!
      Send a memo to all the airlines Seasons greetings to you and all your loved ones,health and happiness.

    2. I was about ready to post the same about Southwest. But keep one thing in mind, Southwest now offers the option to pay for early boarding (earlier boarding group). This by virtue is the same as buying a preferred seat because those who board earlier take the better seats.

    3. Southwest does not let families with children board first. They board between the A and B groups (unless they have A boarding passes already).

  7. One possible advantage to this is that people don’t seem willing to pay extra for a middle seat (surprise!), so if you pay for preferred seating you may get more elbow room even if not more leg room. I flew RDU-LHR and back on AA and had an empty middle and aisle seat going east and an empty middle seat coming back. I was using FF miles and so the extra fee wasn’t quite as painful. With the new seats I was able to lie down for the night flight without having seat edges dig into my back, a definite improvement. I did notice that the fee went up as we got closer to departure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier