Paying more for preferred seating

In Travel SOS, Debbie answers Margie’s questions about why she’s having to pay extra for preferred seating, and where she might find an airline that will not charge more.


Q. Margie
My sister and I are heading overseas later this year and I’ve just received our customer reference number for our flights so, as I usually do, went in to book our seats. As I’m claustrophobic I always go for an aisle seat, but when I clicked on the preferred seat a notation came up that said that would cost me $65! I have never been charged before. Is this a new money-making scheme with the airlines or just with Emirates?


A. Some airlines, of which Etihad and Emirates are two, have started charging to book what they consider to be preferred seats, usually the ones in the first few rows. You should be able to book an aisle seat further back in the plane without being charged.

For future reference, here’s a list of airlines that don’t currently charge for preferred seating.

Airlines that don’t currently charge fees for selecting standard seats:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada (except for the cheapest economy ‘Tango’ fares)
  • Air China
  • Air Europa
  • Alitalia
  • American
  • ANA
  • Asiana
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Delta (except for basic economy fares)
  • Emirates (except for cheapest economy fares)
  • Ethiopian
  • Etihad
  • Kenya Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Japan Airlines (JAL)
  • LATAM (except for certain domestic flights within Chile)
  • Qatar
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Swiss
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Turkish
  • United (except for basic economy fares)


Read more about preferred seating charges at

If you have a Travel SOS question, send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

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