A review into whether the fees airlines charge passengers to sit together are “fair and transparent” has been launched by the aviation regulator.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) found that UK consumers collectively may be paying between £160 million to £390m per year for allocated seating. Of those paying, two-thirds spent between £5 and £30 per seat and a further 8% paid £30 or more.
It says uncertainty around whether groups will be split up by airlines is driving consumers to pay for an allocated seat. However, it found that some consumers are paying to sit together when, in fact, they might not need to.
There is also confusion surrounding airlines seating policies, with 10% of those surveyed by the CAA saying they were never made aware by their airline that they may need to pay more to guarantee sitting together.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, says: “Airline seating practices are clearly causing some confusion for consumers. Airlines are within their rights to charge for allocated seats, but if they do so it must be done in a fair, transparent way.
“As part of the review, we will be asking airlines to provide information on their policies and practices. We will be looking into how airlines decide where to seat passengers that have booked as part of a group and whether any airlines are pro-actively splitting up groups of passengers when, in fact, they could be sat together. We will not hesitate to take any necessary enforcement action should it be required at the end of the review.”
The CAA has compiled an airline-by-airline table of whether passengers are likely to be separated on flights, based on a survey of over 4,300 people.
Chances of being separated if not paying extra to guarantee seats by airline
|People who didn't pay more to sit together and WERE separated from their group|
|British Airways (BA)||15%|
|TUI Airways (previously Thomson Airways)||12%|
Source: Civil Aviation Authority, 5 February 2018.
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