Etihad Airways sent out an email this morning to Etihad Guest members, with the headline “Enhance Your Economy Class Journey.” How is Etihad enhancing the economy journey? By adding fees to select seats, of course, given that this will “ensure you select the perfect seat onboard.” That’s some next level marketing spin.
For flights as of July 15, 2018, Etihad will be charging for all economy seat assignments. This new fee will apply on Economy Deal, Economy Saver, and Economy Classic fares, as well as award tickets, though Economy Flex tickets will still be eligible for complimentary seat assignments in advance. As before, passengers can continue to select seats for free within 24 hours of departure.
It’s especially ridiculous that they’re applying this to tickets that are already issued. In other words, if you already booked a ticket for travel on July 15 or later but haven’t selected a seat, you’ll now be charged for the privilege of doing so.
So, how much are the new seat assignment fees? Here’s the seatmap between Abu Dhabi and London on July 14 (before the new fees kick in):
And here’s the seatmap on July 15 (after the new fees kick in):
As you can see, Etihad is maintaining the current fees for selecting an economy seat towards the front of the cabin and for selecting an extra legroom economy seat. On top of that, they’re rebranding their types of economy seats:
- Through July 14 they’re referring to seats at the front of economy as “Standard Seats,” seats with extra legroom as “Preferred Seats,” and regular seats as “Available Seats”
- As of July 14 they’re referring to seats at the front of economy as “Preferred Seats,” seats with extra legroom as “Extra Legroom Seats,” and regular seats as “Standard Seats”
Charging 100AED (~27USD) for a seat assignment on an eight hour flight is about what I’d expect an airline to charge, and I imagine they’re charging even more on longhaul flights.
This move doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and if anything I’m surprised it took Etihad so long to add this fee, given the financial situation they’re in. The airline is about to undergo a radical restructuring, and I fear as part of that we’ll continue to see them cost cut.
As much as I’m sad to see this move, I’m also not surprised. Even Emirates charges for advance seat assignments on many fares, and they’ve been doing so since 2016.
What do you make of Etihad’s new fees to assign economy seats?