The Sun Sentinel has a very interesting article on airlines charging for special seats.
Atlanta-based AirTran in June began charging customers for advance seat reservations on discounted fares — something Northwest Airlines started last year. United offers “economy plus” seating, with extra legroom , at no charge — but only to their frequent fliers.[...]
AirTran now charges $15 each way to reserve an exit row seat and $5 for a window or aisle seat, allowing coach passengers to avoid the middle seat.
This is not uncommon with low cost airlines. Jet2.com for example, has raised the fee for extra-leg room seats to 19 EUR (26 USD) for flights less than 3 hours, and 27 EUR (37 USD) for flights over 3 hours.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it. I just don’t see the point of advanced seat reservations and paying extra for a particular seat. It is fine if you are really tall and require extra space for your legs, but really, there isn’t much difference. Especially with the newly remodeled low cost aircrafts where passengers are packed like sardines to maximize profit. Unless if it’s the first row, or an emergency seat where the seat in front of it doesn’t recline, you really don’t have that much space to spread your legs and be comfortable. I know I’m going to be prosecuted by the industry for saying this, but unless you travel in business class or the almost defunct First class, you are NOT going to be comfortable flying in economy!
Also lets not forget about an important fact, advanced seat reservations are a pain in the neck to a check-in agent. Not talking low cost airlines here where there isn’t much difference where you sit (except, you can argue, the extra-leg room seats).
Say you are happily at home or with your travel agent, and you reserve a window seat. The system usually assigns you whatever window seat it pleases. Perhaps you had in mind a window seat near the front of the plane (I dont know, because you want to get chatty with the pilot for example). Anyway, once the check-in agent gives you your boarding card and you realize you are way in the back of the plane, or gasp, it’s an aisle seat. Your eyes begin to twitch and your wrath falls on the check-in agent.
Well sorry to inform you but, your pre-assigned seat doesn’t really matter. It all depends on the aircraft’s seat configuration, especially if it’s an aircraft with say First, Business and Economy seat configuration. More often than not, a flight’s configuration is determined a few hours before it actually departs. Especially in the high season.
If the flight’s configuration was initially of 22 Business class seats, and say 119 Economy class seats, but in the end only 5 Business passengers and 136 Economy passengers check in. Instead of upgrading those extra 17 Economy passengers into Business (lots of money for the company), it would be much easier to simply change the aircraft’s seat configuration. The much loved and cheaper method for the airline company is the famous movable curtain that divides the classes. Just unhook it from the row you want it and hook it up again a few rows down and voilá, Business class and Economy class have been rearranged!
So anyway, I got off track. You’re still standing there at the counter angry that you didn’t get the seat you reserved. It depends on the aircraft’s seat configuration, really. If it hasn’t changed or it hasn’t affected that particular seat you had reserved, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. However if your seat fell in the midst of the movable curtain’s shuffle, well then, too bad. You’ll need a new seat.
Conclusion…. if you want to pay extra for a seat which in reality to me is almost identical to the one you are already paying for (price of your ticket!), go right ahead. But I don’t see the point. The only true advantage it gives you is that it protects you from me, because then I won’t be able to sit you where I want if you catch me in one of my Voldomortian moods….
For the full article in the Sun-Sentinel: Click here!