HomeAir LineGoodbye to random airline seat assignment?

Goodbye to random airline seat assignment?

MEPs are going to investigate whether airlines are carrying out an abusive policy regarding the random allocation of seats, a practice that has spread to almost all airlines. In 2018, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority already carried out an investigation into this matter, given the avalanche of complaints about it. Seat selection is part of what is known as “flight auxiliary services”, which last year accounted for 108.5 billion euros in profits for airlines.

Who has not happened? A single locator for two plane reservations. Or for five. The time comes for the airline to assign seats and the prize of sitting together means going through the checkout. Making the price “from” considerably more expensive on some occasions.

What began as a practice of low cost It has spread to practically all airlines. And it was a Spaniard who raised the complaint to the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, which examines complaints from individuals. The MEPs have agreed to study the complaint about the random seat assignment policy and the extra cost it entails for families and friends to travel together.

A Spaniard has presented a complaint to the European Parliament about the seat allocation policy of airline companies. Source: Unsplash.

The European legislation It only requires that children under 12 years of age have to travel with their accompanying adults or, when this is not possible, they must be at least in the same row, while babies under 24 months of age are also allowed to ride on the lap. of fathers and mothers.

The complainant, Alfonso Rodríguez Sánchez – linked to Facua Baleares – has pointed out that the random assignment of seats has become an abusive practice, for significantly increasing the price of the ticket and deliberate, since as he has pointed out “the companies use an algorithm when they detect reservations from people with similar surnames and automatically separate them.

Is there a history?

The truth is that this practice by airlines is not the first time it has been reported to the institutions. In 2018, a study by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – carried out due to multiple complaints from passengers – determined that the British paid up to 430 million euros to choose their seats. The CEC investigation determined, as published by The Independent newspaper, that the airlines investigated used an algorithm in booking and purchasing tickets to separate users who travel together so that they pay the corresponding amount.

Flight attendant services, an income in crescendo

The random assignment of flights by airlines is an important part of the benefits generated by the so-called ancillary services. Or what is the same, for everything you have to swipe the card that is not included in a basic plane fare: carry-on luggage, flexibility to change or cancel, on-board sales or selecting the desired seat, among many others. options.

In 2023, airline revenue from auxiliary services skyrocketed, reaching €108.5 billion

Auxiliary – or additional – services are increasingly a source of benefits with many incentives, in some cases they even represent 50% of billing. As HOSTELTUR already reported, airline revenue from ancillary services skyrocketed in 2023. According to a report by CarTrawler and IdeaWorksCompany, last year the 2019 figure was exceeded, reaching 108.5 billion euros.


Companies say there are several reasons for the large increase in ancillary revenues: low-cost airlines now control a 25% market share globally and most have an unbundled pricing policy, with additional fees for most services. auxiliaries, beyond the flight. Therefore, in the line of ancillary or auxiliary income, Low cost companies represent approximately 31% of the market share in this area.

Goodbye to random airline seat assignment?

Airlines must guarantee passengers’ right to carry hand luggage free of charge. Source: Hosteltur Archive.

The carry-on bag is free

At the request of another Spaniard, in this case Ciudadanos MEP Jordi Cañas, the European Parliament resolved in October last year that airlines should guarantee passengers’ right to carry hand luggage free of charge. MEPs argued that coherent EU rules on size and price are needed. “EU legislation on air passenger rights must be reviewed to offer a solution,” the resolution says, although the parliamentarians themselves admit that it is not binding.

Related news:

-The latest in air services: reservation of overhead compartments

-These are the airlines with the most “hidden” charges that drive up rates

-Abusive airline clauses, under inspection in Andalusia

Source: Hosteltur



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