Dubai: Emirates will begin charging an advance seat selection fee ahead of its standard two-day check-in window for some of its Economy fares starting from October 3, the Middle East’s biggest airline has said.
The new fee structure, ranging between Dh50 and Dh150, will apply to Economy Class Special and Saver fares, Emirates said. Seat charges will vary depending on the distance of the flight — short, medium, or long — and will be per passenger per sector.
Those travelling on Economy Class Flex, Economy Class Flex Plus, Business Class or First Class will not be subjected to these charges for advance seat selection.
In a statement to Gulf News, an Emirates spokesperson said: "Emirates can confirm the introduction of a minimal charge for those looking to select their Economy Class seat in advance, for tickets issued on or after October 3, 2016. The charge is only applicable on Special and Saver fares in Economy Class and will vary depending on the duration of the flight. Children below the age of 2 and accompanying passengers on the same booking will be exempted from the fee. This charge is also not applicable once online check-in opens, which is 48 hours before flight departure. At this stage, seat selection is free."
Passengers looking for a specific seating, perhaps close to someone they know or next to the window, may have to in this case book their seats in advance of the check-in if the cabin is already getting full.
A child discount of 50 per cent applies on the seat charges, as provided in a table with the charge breakdown.
The extra fees come along a wider trend by premier carriers to adopt some elements from low-budget airlines’ business model. Just recently, British Airways announced plans to charge for food on short-haul journeys.
For years, budget airlines have charged for extra services such as on-board food and drinks, in-flight entertainment, baggage fees and other services.
According to Emirates, the main differences between the fare types are the changes that could be made to a ticket, the number of Skywards Miles one can earn and the upgrade options available.
The Special fare is the airline’s lowest fare, with some restrictions that apply, while the Saver fare is slightly more flexible than a Special fare.
Table: Advance seating selection fees
Short Haul: Dh50 between Dubai and GCC countries, Middle Eastern countries, Indian Ocean
Medium Haul: Dh100 between Dubai and Europe, Africa and East Asia
Long Haul: Dh150 between Dubai and Americas and Australasia
5th Freedom (Short and Medium Haul): Dh50 or Dh100 when Emirates flies between two foreign countries.