What next? Passengers pay to sit next to their own children

Ruth Doherty

Qantas have introduced a fee that requires passengers to pay for the privilege of sitting next to their partner - or their own children.

The airline has begun charging economy passengers $20 per person per leg of the journey to select a seat via its website.

Those who want to avoid the fee will have to request a seat upon arriving at the airport, taking the risk that there might not be enough free seats left to be able to sit next to family and friends.

The airline's Advance Seat Selection option can be used for exit row seats but will attract a fee of up to $160 for long haul international flights.

Those travelling on domestic flight or in first, business and premium economy cabins will avoid the seat selection fee. Frequent flyers and members of their loyalty scheme will not be charged.

A Qantas spokesperson said that the new initiative will benefit passengers, telling news.com.au:
'Advance Seat Selection complements Qantas' pre-boarding services designed to make the pre-boarding experience quick and onboard experience comfortable.

'It is another initiative enabling Qantas customers to have greater choice with their travel experience.

'Should customers not select their seat directly after they have booked their flight, they can continue to select their seat during online check-in free of charge.'

The Advance Seat Selection was previously available to frequent flyers with Platinum, Gold or Silver status.

Qantas is not the first airline to introduce such a charge. British Airways launched a fee for advance seat selection in 2009, charging passengers around $25 for the privilege.

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What do you think of the new initiative? Helpful? Or a blatant rip-off?