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Some airlines may have found a new way to charge passengers additional fees, as some are having travellers pay more for preferred seating in all classes. According to CNN, companies such as Delta, US Airways and American Airlines have been implementing new surcharges on preferred seats, such as the window and aisle spots, compared to the middle seats.
When Aussies book their flights with these airlines, they may be asked what kind of seating they wish to have on board. Depending on their selection, the rates will vary with each reservation, on top of other fees for things like baggage and changing flight dates. This idea has only been introduced to a few carriers so far, but if deemed successful, more Aussies may be seeing these fees on their international flights in the future.
The debate over seating surcharges
There are pros and cons to these new ideas of charging different rates for different seats. Seasoned passengers who do not mind the middle of the rows can save money by reserving these specific spots. Others who value the additional room can stick to the aisle and window areas. Varied prices for the seats may seem extreme, but experts say that there is significant difference between the seating arrangements on the plane, so passengers will get exactly what they are paying for when the various areas of the plane are given different rates.
"Offering preferred seats for sale to all Delta passengers means that we are offering different seat selection options to enable more passengers to travel in their seat of choice," Katie Hulme, spokeswoman for Delta, told the news source.
One of the biggest concerns about these proposed policies is that families who are trying to save money may have to split up on the plane. When tickets are significantly lower for middle seats, it may cause people from groups to sit one in each row, which may cause issues for those travelling with children, individuals with medical conditions or older relatives.
"Families have already been having a hard time, so this is the icing on the cake," Kate Hanni, representative from the passenger rights organisation FlyersRights, told the news source. "Can you imagine getting on a plane and not being seated next to your three-year-old? The predictability of air travel has really gone away. This is one more layer where people can't predict what's going to happen - it's a crap shoot."
Ideas of seating fees are catching on globally
These American-based carriers are not the only ones to start adding more fees for certain pots on the plane. Ryanair, which serves many part of Europe and North Africa, has begun to offer seat options for their online bookings that vary in price.
According to the Australian, those planning on taking domestic flights most likely will not be seeing these types of fees with popular domestic airlines including Jetstar and Australian Airlines. However, Tiger Airlines, which offers services in Australia and Asia, allows its passengers to pay a few extra dollars to have first pick of their preferred seats when flying. Although they still may get a window or aisle seat, the small optional charge ensures that they will have first choice instead of taking their chances.
Aussies on a budget that will be taking flights to New York, flights to London, or other destinations in both the U.S. and Europe should read the fine print on their tickets. Most airlines have different policies when it comes to fees and charges, so rates could vary greatly between carriers.
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