While many airlines charge for advance seat assignments in economy nowadays, one of British Airways’ most egregious policies is that they also charge for seat assignments in business class.
It’s crazy that you can pay $10,000+ for a business class ticket and then be asked to shell out further cash just to select a seat. The cost to assign seats in British Airways business class in advance is as follows:
- Seats in European shorthaul Club Europe cabin start from £20/€24/$30
- On longer international flights, seats in Club World cabin start from £55/€66/$83
As you can see, those are starting prices. In other words, seat assignments on many longhaul flights will run you $100+ each way.
I find that policy to be ridiculous, but at the same time having recently flown British Airways’ longhaul business class, I can see one benefit to these fees.
What I’ve realized is that the quality of seats in British Airways’ longhaul business class is wildly variable. Window seats are so much better than aisle seats, and of course better than the center seats. Most of British Airways’ longhaul fleet features eight seats per row in business class, which is obscene.
When you have a window seat you at least have some privacy, in the sense that the divider goes up after takeoff and then you’re in your own cocoon. The seat and sleeping space is extremely narrow, though.
British Airways A380 Club World window seat
But at least you can sleep in full privacy. It’s still a bit awkward, since either the flight attendants will have to serve you over the divider, or otherwise come around near the ottoman, neither of which is ideal. But the impracticality of being served in a window seat is a small price to pay for the added privacy.
Meanwhile if you’re in an aisle seat you’ll feel completely exposed. You don’t even have a proper armrest on the aisle side, and there’s no divider around your head to give you any sense of privacy.
British Airways A380 Club World aisle seat
Like, there’s truly no privacy whatsoever.
Worst of all are the center seats. I can’t even imagine being seated in them with a stranger, as you have about as much shoulder space as in economy.
In theory I suppose that seems practical if you’re traveling with someone, but really it’s not. The combination of window and aisle seats are actually good for people traveling together, as you’re basically facing one another. This is ideal if you’re traveling with someone, and super awkward during takeoff and landing if you’re seated across from a stranger.
None of which is to suggest that I support British Airways charging for seat assignments in business class. Rather I think Ford made a good observation an hour into out British Airways flight — “I can’t believe they charge the same for all these seats, because the window seats are so much better.”
Similarly, JetBlue’s Mint class has both “suites” and standard seats in the cabin, as the cabin alternates between four seats per row and two seats per row.
They charge the same for all seats, and you can guess which seats are first to get booked up…
While first come first serve makes sense on one hand, keep in mind that those typically booking in advance also get the lowest fares. Those paying the highest fares are getting the least desirable seats. Which is ultimately fine, but there’s something about it which doesn’t seem like the “perfect” system.
While I find British Airways’ policy of charging for seat assignments in business class to be borderline insulting, I did find there to be a huge difference in quality between seats. The window seats on British Airways are actually quite nice, while the aisle seats have no privacy, and the middle seats are sort of laughable.
I suppose by charging for seats they’re at least creating some barrier to all the good seats being booked up earlier. While many companies will pay for business class, lots of people don’t want to personally shell out for the cost of a seat assignment.
Anyone else have a huge preference for the window seats in Club World over the aisle and center seats?