Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

British Airways: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Even Forrest Gump's jaw would drop at this news from British Airways, courtesy of my friend, Joe Brancatelli, from his weekly newsletter at

"British Airways has told travel agents (but not customers yet) that it will begin charging for advance seat assignments effective on October 7. If you want to choose a seat more than 24 hours before departure, it'll cost you $30 in most coach or premium-economy (World Traveler Plus) rows and $75 for an exit row.

"But wait, it gets more insane. Spent thousands of dollars to book a business-class seat on British Airways? You'll pay $90 for the right to choose your seat more than 24 hours before departure. That's not only each way, but per segment. Which means you'll pay upwards of $360 roundtrip in business class if you fly on BA to somewhere via London. Apparently the only exceptions are premium members of BA's Executive Club and full-fare business-class passengers.

"I'll have further details next week as I get my hands on more specifics, but let me give you a quick read: Why would any sane human being give British Airways $90 a segment more after paying thousands of dollars for a business class seat? And why would BA, which is still trying to overcome justifiably negative perceptions of Heathrow Terminal 5 and desperately needs premium-class connecting passengers, think anyone would pay them $360 more roundtrip for the "privilege" of flying over London in a pre-assigned seat? This is the height of stupidity from an airline that increasingly looks like it is being run by top executives who are in over their heads. This is Mickey Mouse.

"This isn't how you treat premium-class customers, who, even if they are flying at a discount, are paying $2,500 or $5,000 or more. It was bad enough a couple of years ago when BA told business-class customers that they couldn't have an advance seat assignment until 24 hours before departure if they traveled on anything but walk-up fares. But to turn around now and try to sell a premium-class customer an advance-seating option is simply pouring salt in an open wound.

"I'll tell you what: Business-class customers have other options if they are flying to and from London. And they can surely find reasons not to connect over London with BA. I suggest you talk with your wallet. If you're booking international business-class travel, avoid BA until it drops this insane fee. And boycott any other carrier that tries to match BA."

Usually posts here are entirely my own writing, but this little item was so astonishingly dumb that I felt it deserved the widest possible audience. It's just stupid, stupid, stupid.


Anonymous jumpcut said...

I agree this move is stupid, but there has been an exception to the 24-hour rule if you are a OneWorld Sapphire or above. As an AA Platinum, I was able to preselect my seats for my BA itinerary next month. I'm not sure if this will change effective October 7. The only problem with my scenario is that my AAdvantage number must be in my BA reservation in order to preselect seats, and AA miles can't be accrued on BA transatlantic flights. The solution, helpfully offered by a BA phone rep, was to add my AA #, select my seats, then change it back to my BA # prior to flying. This will allow me to get BA transatlantic mileage accrual. It works but...dumb, dumb, dumb.

9/27/2009 9:57 AM  

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