How to Avoid a British Airways Seat Reservation Fee?

How to Avoid British Airways Seat Reservation Fee?


How Do You Select British Airways Seats Without Paying a Seat Reservation Fee? TravelSort reader Mike writes “I paid for a British Airways Business Class ticket recently and went to select my seats, but British Airways charges to select a seat! There were literally NO seats I could choose without paying a seat reservation fee. It would be one thing if this was economy, but I never expected a seat fee for business class. I considered just canceling the ticket, but those flights work best, so I grudgingly paid the fee. I'm still annoyed though. Is there any way around paying this fee to select seats in advance?”

For those who haven't flown British Airways before, it does often come as a shock that British Airways charges to select a seat in advance, even for British Airways Club World Business Class. Only British Airways First Class passengers enjoy free seat selection, but even they have to pay to select seats in Club World Business Class if they connect to a short haul flight that doesn't have First Class.

Fortunately there are a few ways to not pay the British Airways seat selection fee that applies to Economy, Premium Ecconomy, and Business Class:

1. Executive Club / Oneworld Elite Status

If you have Executive Club Silver or Gold status, or Oneworld Sapphire or Oneworld Emerald elite status, you can enjoy free seat selection at the time of booking. For Executive Club Gold/Oneworld Emerald elites, this excludes exit row seats, which can only be selected 24 hours prior. If you have Executive Club Bronze or Oneworld Ruby status, you can select a seat for free (excluding exit row seats) 7 days before your flight.


2. Flexible Tickets: Free Seat Selection

If you purchase an expensive flexible fare (Plus Flex) you'll be able to select a seat at the time of booking.


3. Traveling with an Infant Under 2: Free Seat Selection

If you're traveling with a baby under 2 years old and haven't booked a separate seat for the baby, you're able to select your seat at time of booking, so as to be able to have a seat with a bassinet in front of it. All other passengers on the same booking can also select their seats for free at time of booking.


4. Disability Requires Specific Seating

If you have a disability or are mobility impaired and notify British Airways at least 48 hours before your flight, you can select a seat at time of booking.


5. Select Seats for Free 24 Hours Prior to the Flight

Everyone is able to select a seat for free 24 hours prior to the flight, so if you're ok with not getting early access to seats, you can select at the time you check-in online. Try to do this right at the 24 hour mark to maximize the chance of a better seat among those that are available.


6. Reserve a Paid Flight with TravelSort or Other Travel Advisor

While it's not a major service of ours, we do assist loyal TravelSort clients (those that have made significant hotel and cruise bookings with us at least a year or more) with paid British Airways Business Class flights. We do charge a flat fee for our assistance, but are often able to obtain a negotiated rate for paid British Airways Club World Business Class fares that are lower than published, and there is no fee for seat selection, even for upper deck seats, which are typically our clients' preferred Club World seats. This is only for paid flights, it's not available for award bookings.


Have you had to pay to select British Airways seats in Club World Business Class or a lower class of service, or avoided paying a seat selection fee through one of the above methods?

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2 years ago

No, everyone cannot choose seats for free within 24 hrs of flight. I have business seats from BOS-LHR but cannot access the seat choices even though it says they are available.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rhea98

Ive just tried to book a seat on my LHR-JFK flight, businesss class (British Airways)… and theres only 1 seat left . So I dont have a choice. Guess what – If I booked the 1 remaining seat today, They still want £84 !

Last edited 1 year ago by Lynda
Allen Tyler
Allen Tyler
11 months ago

Twice I have pre-booked economy seats with BA only to find later that these seats are in fact ‘no fee’. This means I have had to request a refund. One was successful the other is pending resolution. Is this a clever ploy for BA to earn extra revenue, hoping that passengers won’t visit the Manage my Booking pages to view or change their seat preferences which is how I found the anomaly?