British Airways Seat Selection – To Pay or Not?
Today, we were faced with a dilemma, do we, or do we not pay the British Airways Seat Selection fee?
As the weeks ticked down to our departure, I regularly check the seats available on our flights by logging into my British Airways Executive Club account everyday. Up until recently there were still Three sets of seats available. Then today, when I logged in, I was faced with only Two sets of seats available and still a week to go, now the heat is on….
In just a weeks time we fly British Airways in Club Europe Business Class for the very first time. As neither of us hold any status in British Airways other than Blue (entry-level status), we do not have the Privilege of confirming our seats at the time of booking. British airways seat selection 24 hours before your departure is the only option that is Free to us at this point.
British Airways do not provide Free Seat Selection to any Passengers even in Business (Club Europe / Club World).
The only Seat that British Airways currently offer free of charge to select at the point of booking is First Class.
So how do you select your seat for free if you’re not flying in BA First Class?
British Airways Tier Status Levels – A Beginners Guide
If you view the above chart, you will see that the “Blue” Tier Level which we are at present only provides a few benefits. You do collect Avios Points on all cash booked flights, collect Tier Points & you manage to Save your details in your account. Anyone joining the British Airways Executive Club gets automatic Blue level Status.
No Free Seat Selection though. Moving on…
Bronze Tier Level:
To achieve Bronze Tier level you do however have to fulfil requirements set out by British Airways. These include needing to have booked using Cash and flown on British airways or on one of their Alliance Partner airlines a minimum of Twice and have to have earn 300 x Tier Points, or taken 25 x BA flights.
Extra benefits include 25% more avios points on bookings, Priority check-in & Boarding.
When you’re a Bronze Tier Member you can only select your Seats for Free 7 x days before your departure.
Silver Tier Level
To achieve Silver level you also have to fulfil requirements set out by British Airways. These include needing to have booked using Cash and flown on British airways or on an Alliance Partner airline a minimum of Four times and have to have earn 600 x Tier Points, or taken 50 x BA flights.
When you’re a Silver Tier Member you can select your Seats for Free at the time of Booking. Additional benefits include 50% more avios on bookings, Priority check-in & Boarding, access to Business class Lounges & additional baggage allowances.
Gold Tier Level
To achieve the Gold Tier Level you need to have booked using Cash and flown on British airways or on an Alliance Partner airline a minimum of Four times and have to have earn 1500 x Tier Points. When you’re a Gold Tier Member you can select your Seats for Free at the time of Booking.
Additional benefits include 100% more avios on bookings, First class Priority check-in & Boarding, access to Business & First class Lounges & additional baggage allowances & additional flight availability.
You need to be a Minimum of BA Bronze Tier Level status to even confirm your BA seat selection reservation fee for Free 7 x days before your departure.
To ensure you get the seat on BA you really want immediately, you really need to get to Silver / Gold Tier status to select and confirm your seat/s at the time of Booking.
However, to obtain even BA Silver Status Tier Level, flying 4 x times on Cash paid tickets and collecting 600 x Tier Points was just not achievable for us. Firstly, we do not have the money to pay for 4 x Return flights just to obtain BA Silver. Those 4 x flights at a Minimum would need to be in Club Europe (Business Class) to achieve 600 x Tier Points.
On average, the highest earning Tier Point Club Europe flights start at about £250 each to obtain 80 x Tier Points each way. You can however fly on Long Haul on BA or one of their Alliance Partners which does earn more than 180 x Tier Points but you still need to have flown on a Minimum of another three cash paid flights to fulfil the requirements of Silver Tier Status.
That works out if only one of us were to fly to gain BA Silver Tier Status, it would cost us a Minimum of £1000 plus in cash paid BA flights. That is not also including all the additional expenditure connected to travelling such as parking fees, food, hotel stays etc. Lots of people fly on purpose a certain amount of flights on specific routes just to obtain Silver / Gold Tier Status, this is known as Tier Point Runs. It’s basically a way of Manufacturing Tier Points just for the purpose of Status requirements.
Some people are in a very lucky position to fly regularly for either work purposes or personal travel so can pick up Silver / Gold status easily.
British Airways Seat Selection Fee – The Alternatives:
So how do you select your seats for Free?
In short, The British Airways Seat Selection Fee is in most cases is always payable unless you have Silver / Gold Status at the time of Booking or unless of course your flying in First Class. Remember the only Free option available to Blue members is to use the british airways seat selection 24 hours before departure option.
British airways Seat Selection fee
Every booking made on British Airways flights are provided the option at the time of booking to pay to select your seats otherwise known as the british airways seat reservation fee.
Our Club Europe british airways seat reservation fee stated £48.00 to Confirm both our Seats one way. That is £96.00 just to select all our seats on a return basis.
We decided against paying cash for the british airways seat reservation fee purely on principal as we feel anyone flying in BA Business Class should not have to pay to select their seats and we like to pay the minimum we can for our flights / holidays.
British Airways Seating Chart:
All BA flights provide a seat map to assist passengers to locate and select their preferred seats.
The BA Seat map displays information such as Row numbers, Seat assigned numbers and other preferred seats such as the Emergency Exit Rows Seats.
The seat map also displays different seats per Cabin class such as Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class.
The BA Seat map is very useful in assisting passengers to enable them to select accurately where they prefer to sit on a plane. Some people do not like to sit at the back of the plane, some prefer not to sit over the wing etc.
BA Seat Selection – Using Avios Points:
Our Solution, and the best value for us were to use Avios Points to Select & Confirm our Seats.
Not many people know that you can use Avios points to select their seats at the time of booking. Strangely, when we logged in using our BA app we could not find the option to use Avios to Confirm our seats. I had to log in to my BA Executive Club via a Tablet / Desktop account and found the option under “Manage my Booking”.
To use Avios Points whilst logged into your BAEC account and not via the BA app, select your seats and confirm your selection.
Proceed to the payment stage for the seats, when you arrive at the Payment page, scroll down and you should see the option to pay with avios points.
If you do not have enough Avios Points to cover the required amount, you are given the option to part pay with avios and cash.
We have been in a very lucky position to collect our Avios points for free via the very generous Tesco Clubcard bonus point promotions in the past. We have managed to build up a sizeable amount of free avios points and some profit from this scheme which has enabled us to travel in Business Class flights to luxury destinations staying in 5 Star Resorts all for Free.
Overview / Recommendations:
You can select your seat for Free using the British airways seat selection 24 hours before departure. If you can “sweat it out” and take the chance that your preferred seats may not be available at this point, then this is the cheapest route available. The British airways seat selection reservation fee can range from £24.00 to £89 per person each way depending on if you’re flying certain cabins and short / long haul.
For us personally and after an awkward 11 hour flight seated immediately next to a complete stranger on a recent, previous British airways Club World flight, we prefer now to always complete seat selection on BA as soon as we book our flights.
If you like the idea of becoming a BA Silver / Gold Tier Status Member that provides you free seat selection at the time of booking then this is another option. Manufacturing Tier Points to gain Silver / Gold does not come cheaply. The value in becoming Silver / Gold will all depend on how often you fly using British Airways. If you travel frequently for Business or Leisure then this status should be fairly easy to acquire.
For the rest of us without BA Status, you can pay cash or use our prefered choice pay using Avios points. Once again the value needs to be looked at with this option as this all depends on how much those avios points cost you in the First place.
The Skint Travellers Cost / Recommendations:
We only had two options available to us, pay cash to a total of nearly £100 to secure our seats both ways or use Avios Points to pay to reserve our seats in full.
Avios Points in the traveller loyalty point market tend to attract a generalised value of 1p per point. In our opinion this value depends in lots of factors, being the most important to us is what you paid for those points in the first place.
If you shop in Tesco, you will be collecting Clubcard Points for Free which when converted to avios points equal 2.4x the face value of 1 x clubcard point. We had a generous pot of Avios earth for Free via previous generous bonus clubcard point promotions and a bit of buying and selling promotional items.
To us, using avios points rather than spending nearly £100 in cash out of our pocket was preferential. However, when our Avios balance starts to empty, we will be looking at other, more cost effective ways of bagging seat selection for cheaper than paying cash direct to British Airways.
It all comes down also to what you feel personally comfortable with. If your fine with taking a chance that you could potentially not be seated next to your partner during your Club Europe flight, then leave it until 24 hours before and get seat selection for Free.
If your like us and prefer to know you have confirmed seats next to each other on your flight, you need to take one of the options discussed above, pay cash or use Avios Points.
We did pay for our Club Europe tickets only using 65,000 avios points and £98.00 in taxes, the cash price from BA for these flights were £660. This equates to 65 k avios points providing a value to us of £558.00.
Remember that you can collect Avios Points for Free via the American Express Gold Card Review found here – AMEX GOLD CARD REVIEW or by collecting Tesco Clubcard Points / Purchases through the BA E-Store amongst other routes. We will be discussing how to collect Tesco Clubcard point routes in more detail soon in up and coming articles, stay tuned or sign up for our Newsletters.