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One of the more heinous ways in which British Airways gouges passengers for yet more money is by charging for seat selection in the Business Class cabin. Where most airlines allow all Business Class passengers to select their seats for free, British Airways only offers an exemption to select elite flyers.
Who Gets Free Business Class Seat Selection On BA?
Passengers paying for non-discounted Business Class, passengers with a disability which requires a wheelchair and flyers with select elite statuses can reserve Business Class seats without charge on British Airways.
Holders of the following elite statuses can select British Airways Business Class seats for free at the time of booking:
- British Airways Gold Guest List elites
- British Airways Gold elites
- British Airways Silver elites
- Oneworld Emerald elites
- Oneworld Sapphire elites
Holders of the following elite statuses can select British Airways Business Class seats for free 7 days before departure:
- British Airways Bronze elites
- Oneworld Ruby elites
British Airways Business Class Seat Selection Fees
Historically, British Airways had three price points per flight for most of its Business Class seats and these were dependant on if a passenger was selecting a seat at the front of the cabin, in the middle of the cabin or at the rear (the upper deck of the 747s has its own pricing). As of the middle of May, this has quietly changed.
Here’s a note the airline has sent out to travel agents:
We’re making changes to paid seating in Club World. From 14 May, we have introduced side and centre seat prices. Currently, we charge the same for the side seats and the centre seats – the side being the 2 by the window, the centre being the 4 in the middle of the aircraft. Our new price points have a higher seat price for side seats than centre seats in the same zone.
Customers who have already purchased seats in Club World can visit Manage my Booking on ba.com and won’t see any new price points. All new seat bookings in Club World will see the new price points.
There will be a total of 6 price points – Front Side, Front Centre, Middle Side, Middle Centre, Rear Side, Rear Centre which replace the existing 3 price points of Front, Middle, Rear
Price changes apply to the main cabin only and pricing changes for upper deck will be communicated in due course.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that BA has the gall to charge some Business Class passengers to select a seat, the airline has now implemented a cost structure that penalizes these passengers for avoiding the atrocious seats in the center of the aircraft!
Not only does the cost to select a Business Class seat vary depending on where in the cabin you choose to sit, but it also changes depending on the distance of the flight…and the charges can be frighteningly high.
For a flight between New York JFK and London Heathrow here are the fees presented to Business Class passengers who don’t have the right to select seats for free:
- Side seats – between $94 and $122 each way
- Center seats – between $83 and $111 each way
- Upper deck – $127 each way
For a longer flight, like Los Angeles to London Heathrow, the fees are higher:
- Side seats – between $125 and $147 each way
- Center seats – between $111 and $133 each way
- Upper deck – $147 each way
What this all means is that, essentially, a couple can find themselves paying over $500 extra just to avoid sitting in the horrible seats at the center of a British Airways Business Class cabin….and almost $600 extra if they want the better seats in the cabin.
It’s a rip-off!
Sadly, short of earning an airline status which allows you to select Business Class seats for free on British Airways, there really isn’t anything passengers can do to avoid these fees unless they choose to fly another airline (not necessarily a bad idea!).
It charges like these that add to the widely held view that BA loves to gouge its flyers for whatever cash it can.
When you consider the incredibly high Business Class fares BA routinely charges and the atrocious fees it levies on all passengers who dare to redeem Avios for long-haul award flights and then add in the fact that some of those passengers have to pay yet more just to select a seat in the Business Class cabin, you get the picture of an airline and management team that cares more about nickel and diming its customers than providing a genuine premium experience….and that’s just sad.