Reserving a plane seat could cost you more than the flight

Published by Edmund Greaves on 17 August 2017.
Last updated on 17 August 2017

Reserving a plane seat could cost you more than the flight

Passengers will be dismayed to find that reserving a plane seat could cost them more than the flight itself, according to new research.

Travel booking firm Kayak has found that many airlines, particularly low-cost ones such as Ryanair and Jet2, offer heavily discounted flights for as little as £7.49, yet reserving a seat could cost you double that (£15).

There is a clear disparity between carriers with major airlines such as Emirates not charging for seat reservations for those with Flex and FlexPlus tickets and Lufthansa charging as much as £90.60 for those on a long-haul flight requiring extra legroom.

John-Lee Saez, travel expert at Kayak, comments: “The research shows that some airlines are considerably tougher on the wallet if you wish to reserve a seat. If you have to check in at the desk, you will often find that being polite and just asking can get you the seat you want – whether that is next to someone else you want to sit with, or a seat with extra legroom.

“But in many cases, if you are checking in automatically, or with an airline where the format is ‘first come, first served’ when you get on board, the only way to guarantee your seat is to pay.

“Our advice is to do your research up front. Sometimes the comfort is worth the cash, but don’t get caught up with unnecessary charges if you’re happy to sit next to whoever on the flight.”

See the table below for a list of popular airlines’ seat reservation costs:

 Airline

 Seat reservation price (i)

 Additional info

Air France

£18.20-£63.40

Standard seating reservation is free up to 30 hours before departure - reservation cost is only for seats with extra legroom.

British Airways

£7-£62

Short/medium haul is free if no extra legroom is required. Fees apply to basic tickets only.

Easyjet

£1.99-£21.99

Flexi tickets come with free seat reservation.

Emirates

£11.60-£31(ii)

Emergency row seats are only assigned at discretion of check-in staff.

Flybe

£6.50-£15

N/A

Jet2

£9-£25

N/A

Lufthansa

£22.60-£90.60

Charge only applicable if you're reserving seats on long-haul flights or if you require extra legroom on short/medium haul flights.

Norwegian

£7-£25

N/A

Ryanair

£2-£16.49

Child seat reservation is free.

Thomas Cook

£10

N/A

Virgin Atlantic

£30-£70

Fees apply if you want to reserve a seat before the 24 hour pre-departure check-in window.

Source: Kayak, 16 August 2017. (i) Price varies depending on seat type and/or destination. (ii) Flex or FlexPlus fares are free of charge.  

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