Passengers to pay more for extra legroom in economy class

Continental Airlines passengers will be charged up to £130 for an extra legroom seat on flights to the United States.

The airline flies to the United States from seven British airports; Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast as well as Heathrow. An additional fee on exit row seats, which have an extra seven inches of legroom, would add 33% to the airline’s cheapest return ticket to Newark Airport, New York. The new scheme will be introduced from the middle of March.

The new plan to charge an additional fee for exit row seats has come about as the airline tries to save money. The exact cost of the exta fee will vary according to the length of the flight and demand on the day. Continental Airline passengers will only be told of the additional cost when they check in at the airport.

Jim Compton, Continental’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says: “Our customers want more choices. Seats with additional legroom are higher-value seats, and we want to offer them to customers who recognize that value.” *

* Source – The Telegraph March 2010

Traditionally air passengers have not been expected to pay extra for alternative seats in the same cabin. But airline carriers are gradually introducing additional charges for extra services.

Last year British Airways announced fees for passengers who wanted to choose their seat in advance. It put a £50 levy on exit row seats, and £20 for anyone picking an aisle or window seat.
Initially, it was in-flight food and drink on budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair which were charged extra fees for, then baggage allowances followed suit. Many believe that the trend will continue.

Jay Sorensen, chief executive of Idea Works, an airline industry expert from the United States, said: “The fact is the airline industry desperately needs this cash and charging for these seats is a perfectly reasonable way of charging for a product which is in limited supply.”

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