Cranky on the Web: More on Paid Seating

Seats

Airline seat selection fees: It’s pay to playCNN
This paid seating thing just keeps getting attention. I spoke with CNN for this article.

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12 comments on “Cranky on the Web: More on Paid Seating

  1. British Airways even charges its business class passengers for advance seat assignments. Not only that, its seats are not up to today’s standards.

  2. “United CEO Oscar Munoz defended the new fare class by explaining that the airline is trying to offer more products to appeal to a broader number of customers”

    How does charging more money for the same seat amount to “offering more products”?

    You’re right, it’s a money grab.

  3. That was a good comparison to tickets to a Broadway show and airline seats. But on an airplane they would need to sell seats by location on the airplane. You would need to chose the Aisle Fare, the Middle Fare, the Window Fare, the Front of wing aisle fare, the back of wing window fare, the seat by the toilet fare and so on.

    And isn’t the airline responses of “It’s what our passengers ask us for” and “It gives the passenger more choice” getting old?

    1. > But on an airplane they would need to sell seats by location on the airplane. You would need to chose the Aisle Fare, the Middle Fare, the Window Fare, the Front of wing aisle fare, the back of wing window fare, the seat by the toilet fare and so on.

      That’s basically how it works already, between the fees to select your seat in advance and the layers of preferred seating above Economy Basic. Does a passenger want to take the risk, however real, of getting a middle seat if they don’t feel like paying a premium to select their seat in advance? Also, even regular window and aisle seats (without extra legroom or other benefits) towards the front of the plane often cost a premium to reserve in advance, not to mention paying extra for exit row seats.

      As much as many people dislike this, I’ll take it over a fare increase any day. For some flights I’m willing to pay a bit more to get the seat I want (or set an alarm to check in exactly 24 hours before my flight in the case of Southwest, and get kind of the seat I want, which costs time and is similar in my book to paying a small added fee), for others I am not.

      With regards to, “It’s what our passengers ask us for,” that may not be directly true, but people vote with their dollars. A very sizable bloc of the American traveling public has consistently shown itself to prefer the a la carte fare model vs the all-inclusive fare model. As much as people like to complain about the a la carte model, their purchases and spending don’t lie, and failures such as “More Legroom Throughout Coach” speak to that.

        1. Totally agreed. Unfortunately, however, it’s not in the airlines’ best interests to enable the secondary sale of plane tickets (there’s almost certainly more profit in the change fees and upsells to refundable tickets than there would be in taking a cut of reselling existing tickets). Even if the airlines did want to allow/facilitate it, even with a cutoff of no secondary sales within (say) 24 hours prior to departure, there would probably be some push back from the TSA.

  4. Why shouldn’t you pay for a better seat, or one you’d prefer more? You do it at a football game, you do it at a concert, why should “you get what you pay for” not apply to airlines?

    1. Well if you do it at a football game or a concert and you decide not to go you can also sell your seat or give it to a friend. Seems like heads they win, tails you lose.

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