Buying Extra Seats for Extra Room

Tracy Stewart, September 10, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. Next spring my husband and I are flying from Los Angeles to Budapest on British Airways via London Heathrow. Our economy class seats will cost $1020 each round trip and to upgrade to premium economy would cost $2700 per person. Can I buy a third regular economy seat for the two of us (at $1020) and count on having three seats together, using the extra middle seat for some extra comfort?

    A. While it's true that buying a middle seat and keeping it empty is a good way to get some "breathing room" on a cramped economy flight, there might be a problem with your plan, in that with the cheapest economy fares, British Airways doesn't give out assigned seats until 24 hours before flight time. If the flight is jam packed, you and your husband might not even be sitting together, and who knows where that expensive empty middle seat will end up. So you may have to buy a more expensive qualifying fare to get the advance seat assignments you desire. Airfarewatchdog has heard many complaints from consumers about this British Airways policy and we do hope they'll change it.

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