When it comes to flying, I am definitely an aisle seat type of gal. While flying in general makes me nervous, having to sit in the middle seat for the duration of a flight makes me extra anxious. The window seat doesn’t typically appeal to me either, so the aisle works out just fine. Having settled on the fees for checked bags, primarily ranging from $15-$35, it seems that the airline industry is now directing its attention toward the various charges for seating preferences.
Airlines are experimenting with these surcharges. As of now, for domestic flights, the range is anywhere from $5-$50. The benefit of more legroom is the key selling point for these premium seating options. Continental, Frontier, JetBlue, United, and US Airways want to offer (and charge) its customers for this seating perk. JetBlue currently markets its premium seats as “EML seats” or “even more legroom,” which assures at least four extra inches of coveted legroom. According to a JetBlue spokesman, the price points for these seats are still being finalized, but currently they cost “$10 for short flights, $25 for medium-length flights and $40 for longer flights, like from New York City to Los Angeles.”
Carriers are also looking into charging passengers for the more desirable seating toward the front of the plane. This may appeal to those needing to exit the plane quickly, especially if there’s a tight connection to be made. I might have paid more for a front seat when making my way back from San Francisco. I clearly didn’t allow enough time to calmly make my connecting flight at DFW, but that’s a different story.
“Premium seating” appears to be a current trend embraced by the airline industry, particularly if it encourages the customer to spend more money. However, Southwest Airlines hasn’t jumped on board and still has an open seating policy. The airline does in fact sell priority boarding, and “for $10 per flight, Southwest’s Early Bird Check-in service automatically checks passengers in 36 hours before flight time, ahead of the typical 24-hour window.” Purchasing this early bird option usually results in an “A” boarding pass and this group is one of the first to board.
With the fees for checked bags, premium seating, and in-flight meals here to stay, one wonders what else the airlines will charge for next.