Etihad Will Begin Charging For Economy Seat Assignments

Etihad Airways sent out an email this morning to Etihad Guest members, with the headline “Enhance Your Economy Class Journey.” How is Etihad enhancing the economy journey? By adding fees to select seats, of course, given that this will “ensure you select the perfect seat onboard.” That’s some next level marketing spin.

For flights as of July 15, 2018, Etihad will be charging for all economy seat assignments. This new fee will apply on Economy Deal, Economy Saver, and Economy Classic fares, as well as award tickets, though Economy Flex tickets will still be eligible for complimentary seat assignments in advance. As before, passengers can continue to select seats for free within 24 hours of departure.

It’s especially ridiculous that they’re applying this to tickets that are already issued. In other words, if you already booked a ticket for travel on July 15 or later but haven’t selected a seat, you’ll now be charged for the privilege of doing so.

So, how much are the new seat assignment fees? Here’s the seatmap between Abu Dhabi and London on July 14 (before the new fees kick in):

And here’s the seatmap on July 15 (after the new fees kick in):

As you can see, Etihad is maintaining the current fees for selecting an economy seat towards the front of the cabin and for selecting an extra legroom economy seat. On top of that, they’re rebranding their types of economy seats:

  • Through July 14 they’re referring to seats at the front of economy as “Standard Seats,” seats with extra legroom as “Preferred Seats,” and regular seats as “Available Seats”
  • As of July 14 they’re referring to seats at the front of economy as “Preferred Seats,” seats with extra legroom as “Extra Legroom Seats,” and regular seats as “Standard Seats”

Charging 100AED (~27USD) for a seat assignment on an eight hour flight is about what I’d expect an airline to charge, and I imagine they’re charging even more on longhaul flights.

This move doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and if anything I’m surprised it took Etihad so long to add this fee, given the financial situation they’re in. The airline is about to undergo a radical restructuring, and I fear as part of that we’ll continue to see them cost cut.

As much as I’m sad to see this move, I’m also not surprised. Even Emirates charges for advance seat assignments on many fares, and they’ve been doing so since 2016.

What do you make of Etihad’s new fees to assign economy seats?

Comments

  1. Have a planned economy flight with them in September (DME-AUH-BKK). I have already selected my seat for free. I wonder if the selection will disappear or what.

  2. Lucky’s article states “It’s especially ridiculous that they’re applying this to tickets that are already issued. In other words, if you already booked a ticket for travel on July 15 or later but haven’t selected a seat, you’ll now be charged for the privilege of doing so.”

    I have selected a seat. The new rules should not affect it.

  3. My father bought a J-Class roundtrip on Etihad (DAC-JFK) for approxmiately $2,900. First time he bought a business class ticket on a long haul flight. The price was slightly lower than China Southern and just under half of SQ (our preferred airline). Looks like Etihad will soon be joining the ranks of the low cost carriers.
    He returns in July. Commented that the service was mediocre. A surprise for me since I always thought Etihad was a premium airline (I’ve only flown Emirates from the ME3).

  4. Dodgy. People fly Etihad premium classes for supposed quality of service but those who choose economy are likely to be pretty price sensitive. The risk is that the lost revenue from passengers they deter will be bigger than the extra income they raise.

  5. Welcome to the budget airline of the U.A.E having flown with Etihad since 2007 I have noticed the steady decline in there standard of service
    So having spent thousands of pounds to attain silver gold or platinum status only to be told that the time period of your status has been cut now they want to charge you for cramped uncomfortable seat for a six to 8 hour journey
    Surely it would be better having premium economy seats in a 2/3/2 config and charge a bit more at least people would be getting something for there money
    How much is that new terminal at Abu Dhabi costing and are just thinking of things to recoup costs.

  6. Yes Mr Hogan went on a spending spree and now we are all having to pay
    Time to move to Emirates and fly in the splendid A380

    Either Guest since 2006

  7. I can imagine the team sitting back in the office playing with their 3D printed trophy seat celebrating charging me the extra dosh

  8. I find seat assignment fee such a low move for any big carriers, left alone Etihad. Hope the East Asian traditional carriers wont be doing so

  9. I’m traveling on EY at the end of August and already selected my seat a month ago. Will they invalidate my selection, or will it be grandfathered in?

  10. Been a platinum for about a year…and yea…….not worth it.

    Just for kicks, trying to change seats on the mobile app, and every available seats are premium seats…wtf.

    But there is a work around for this that I’ve been using to snag exit row seats: come to the airport early and just ask the check-in agent nicely with a smile 🙂

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