Allocated seating options see huge profits for airlines

How many of us have booked flights for friends and family assuming that, as they’re all under one booking, you’ll all be sitting together?

Well, you could be forgiven for thinking just that. However, when you book your flight you aren’t guaranteed to be sitting together at all. In fact, the only way you can guarantee to be sitting together is if you pre-book allocated seating – at a cost.

Since the airlines and tour operators introduced add-on fees, such as allocated seating, they have seen huge profits as a result.

Many travellers, who fear not being able to sit together, pay the high charges to request allocated seating – a particular concern for families travelling, who run the risk of their children sitting away from them on a flight, next to complete strangers. Given that all children above the age of two have to have their own individual seat, that’s a really worry for parents.

In the past, budget, no frills airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair didn’t offer allocated seating. Instead, travellers had to endure the airport ‘bun fight’ queuing system to get on the plane first, some opting to pay for an upgraded ‘priority boarding’ tickets to avoid this. However, never one to ‘miss a trick’ the budget carriers saw other airlines making considerable profit from allocated seating options and so too, followed suit.

We can see just how profitable add-on services, such as allocated seating, are as easyJet this week announced its profits. Profits that rose by a whopping 51% to £478 million! As a result, shares rose by nearly 6%, which will see a possible dividend pay-out to shareholders of around £175million.

These huge profits have seen the airline, for the first time ever, make more profit than competitor, Ryanair.

easyJet attribute this increase in profits to many areas, however, allocated seating is a primary area. Chief Executive, Carolyn McCall, confirmed to the BBC that allocated seating had had a ‘big impact on profitability’, saying that allocated seating was “a nice, calmer boarding process, and a lot of people have taken up the option.”

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