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Air passengers wasting millions on seat allocations

30 October 2018 08:16

Passengers are overpaying for allocated seats

Passengers are overpaying for allocated seats

UK air travellers waste up to £175 million every year on seat allocations that they don't need, a new study has revealed.

According to research by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), almost half (45%) of passengers who pay to be placed next to their traveling companions would have been seated next to each other anyway.

In response to the findings, the aviation regulator called on airlines to inform passengers how likely they were to be separated from their companion unless they pay extra.

Additional fees

Analysis of nine major airlines serving the UK found the proportion of passengers who are not separated from their group, despite refusing to pay additional fees, ranges from 35% on Ryanair to 12% on Flybe and TUI Airways.

Allocated seating generally costs travellers between £5 and £30 a seat, although for some of the most sought-after seats this can cost up to £100.

The CAA found that between 6.8 million and 10.4 million passengers are "unnecessarily" spending between £74 million and £175 million on the fees each year.

It discovered cases of passengers with reduced mobility paying extra to sit with their carer, despite airline regulations stating this should happen free of charge.

Parents highlighted concerns of being separated from their children. even though guidance states they should be sat together to speed up an evacuation in the case of an emergency.

Aviation Minister Liz Sugg said: "Passengers rightly expect to be charged fairly for services and allocated seating is clearly a concern for those flying."

Pricing strategies

CAA policy director Tim Johnson said: "Charging for allocated seating has clearly become part of airlines' pricing strategies, which can impact especially on certain groups such as those with accessibility needs and those travelling with young children.

"We are also concerned about how transparent and easy it is to compare prices and make an informed buying decision.

"Today we are proposing a new framework, following engagement with stakeholders, which will be used to assess airline seating practices.

"This includes transparency, options to add information about travelling with children, older people and those with accessibility needs."

If you're heading away with you family and looking for travel insurance that meets your needs, why not check out our dedicated travel insurance for families to find the right cover for you.