For airlines, charging for seating selection is the ultimate revenue raising exercise.
For passengers, the certainty of knowing where on the aircraft you will be seated can be of huge value. Whilst some can live the uncertainty. Others can’t bear it.
Not only that, beyond the initial IT expense, it costs airlines nothing to offer this service. All the extra revenue from seat selection charges goes straight to the bottom line.
BA has for nearly ten years charged for seat selection, except primarily for those travelling in First or Bronze, Silver and Gold Executive Club cardholders.
It was one of a number of measures introduced when the airline was scrambling to survive the post-Lehman Brothers financial crisis. Although many balked at the idea at the time, not least charging to reserve a seat in Club World, it has survived.
From today, Tuesday 8 May 2018, you can now use Avios to pay for seat selection in whole or in part, instead of cash.
BA has not actually published a tariff of the Avios charges. However, you can see a full list of monetary charges for seat selection on ba.com. Full terms and conditions are also on ba.com
This is unlikely to be the best value use of Avios. However, given that some seat selection charges can be very high, not least in Club World where charges are upwards of £62 one way, this could save some money particularly for those looking to run down Avios balances.
Arguably of more significance in today’s announcement is that this continues a trend of BA extending the scope of the Avios currency. It is highly likely that Avios will be accepted as payment for many more types of charges and services. You can already use Avios to pay for short-haul economy food and drink.
Furthermore, it is expected that there will be more changes to Avios in the coming year.
This will include the introduction of a single “Avios Bank” for balances across different Avios frequent flyer programmes and the introduction dynamic pricing for Avios reward flights. Avios may also be awarded by reference to the price paid for flights rather than distance flown.