‘Preferred’ Seating Plan Doesn’t Sit Well With Airline Passengers
DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) – Just when you thought airlines had exhausted options for passenger fees—think again. Many airlines are now charging for window and aisle seats—dubbing them ‘preferred’ seating.
“It’s extremely annoying,” says Sandeep Sadhwani. “Might as well charge one fare and let that be it, instead of, well, I’m going to give you this cheap ticket and then charge you $10 for this, and $20 for this, and $30 for carry-ons. It’s insane.”
Sadhwani is traveling with his wife and two young daughters, so sitting scattered throughout the plane, he says, isn’t an option. And it’s one that increasingly airlines are asking their passengers to pay to enjoy.
“You feel nickel and dimed,” says Terry Smith. “It’s becoming like the banking industry, where every little thing is another $5 for this, $10 for that. You can’t set your costs based on ticket and hotel.” Smith says his company now limits travel whenever possible—turning to teleconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings.
But, families, he says, can’t teleconference a vacation and the extra costs are becoming frustrating. “Year before last for Disney was another $200, after we’d already paid for the tickets. It went for baggage fees. And coming back, it was another $200 for baggage fees again,” says Smith. So now he’s more diligent about shopping around for deals, because he says he knows he’s going to be hit with additional fees at some point.
And Sadhwani agrees. “After paying for the ticket, you’ve got to always keep an ‘x’ amount because who knows what fee they’re going to hit you up with next, right? That’s just the way travel has become nowadays.
Travel expert Tom Parsons with BestFares.com says savvy travelers do have some options, starting with booking early. “High demand, especially during summer months, means limited seating,” says Parsons. He also suggests settling for sitting near the rear of the airplane—getting to your seat may be more hectic, but “everyone arrives at the same time.” And finally, check for additional seating 48 and then again 24 hours before your flight. Many airlines hold the best seats for business class travelers; but will release them prior to the flight if they don’t sell.
Tim Smith, spokesperson for American Airlines, says their seating policies are not new and stressed that there are a number of options for all types of travelers, including those who are not premium AAdvantage members (who typically get access to preferred seating). Smith says American still offers window and aisle seating at no cost—but, it depends on the flight and the demand.
Smith suggests passengers check out the company’s website for specifics on the seating options. But, as with most travel options, it’s always good to book early.