Airlines are constantly looking for ways to add additional fees on to the price of a ticket. The Preferred Seat Fee is one of the worst because you do not actually get anything that would justify calling it “Preferred.”
Preferred or Choice seats are usually located on the aisle or window near the front of the plane. Sometimes Preferred Seats are the middle seat which is in no way is “Preferred” or worth paying an extra fee for.
The Preferred Seat fee is a direct result of the Checked Bag Fee. Prior to the baggage fees enough passengers would check their bags that there would be enough overhead bins for the passengers that carried on their bags. Now that passengers are trying to avoid the baggage fees they are more likely to carry on their bags. This has created a shortage of overhead bin space and there is a race to get on the plane first to find a place for your bag. The Preferred Seat Fee usually allows the passenger to board in an early boarding group which give them a chance at getting a place to store their bags.
The two airlines that sell Preferred seats are US Airways and American Airlines. Delta and United do not sell preferred seats yet. They do however sell Economy Plus/Comfort seats which actually have benefits associated with them.
US AIRWAYS CHOICE SEATS
US Airways is a pioneer in a charging fees for extras and the Choice Seat Fee is just another fee in their long list of extras.
US Airways defines a Choice seat as:
“ChoiceSeats are mostly window and aisle seats towards the front of Coach (and may include exit row seats*). ChoiceSeats have the same leg room as other seats, but are closer to the front of the plane – so you’re among the first to get on when you board (with Zone 2) and among the first to leave when you land.”
So the only benefit is that you can board early and exit earlier than most of the other passengers.
Below is an example of Choice Seat fees for a trip that I booked. The first flight has fee of $45 and the second flight has a fee of $67 for the Choice Seats. I do not know why there is a difference in price because it is the same type of plane going the same distance. If I had selected these seats it would have added almost 40% to the cost of my ticket. I do not know about you but I have a hard time justifying paying 40% more for something that does not have any significant benefits.
US Airways Choice Seat Fees Examples
AMERICAN AIRLINES PREFERRED SEATS
American Airlines is the other major airline that charges for Preferred Seats. They also have a Main Cabin Extra Seat fee but that actually has benefits.
American Airlines defines a Preferred seat as:
“Preferred Seats are standard legroom seats more favorably located within the Main Cabin.”
They do not even mention if you get to board with an early group but I suspect that you can.
Like US Airways the cost for the preferred seat varies based on the flight. On the example below I would have paid an additional $56.25 to sit in the preferred seats. Again there is nothing different about the seats.
American Airlines Preferred Seat Fees Examples
From the above examples you can see that you will be paying more for something with very little benefit. The seats are not bigger, more comfortable or have better service. You just get to sit near the front of the plane. For me that is not worth paying the extra money.
What do you think of the Preferred Seat Fee?