The end of the middle seat…

Not selecting an airplane seat in advance is like playing roulette. And when you lose, you can lose big. Is it the window seat with unlimited legroom, or the seat next to the lavatory on the long haul flight from a country with very spicy food? Airlines know passengers face this conundrum, and now take full advantage, charging general travelers for seating assignments. British Airways just added a flexible new way for travelers to “pay” for a great seating assignment without pulling out their wallet, bringing the perfect seat closer within reach…

Seat Selection

British Airways allows complimentary seat selection for all customers within 24 hours of travel, but realistically – all the best seats are gone at this point on many flights. When you’re facing a long flight, it’s not a risk worth taking. Gold, Silver and Bronze British Airways members are able to select seats in advance for free, but Blue members are not. This move allows members to pay for some, or all of their seating assignment fees using points at any point before their flight, regardless of elite frequent flyer status. Yes, that includes you.

Avios Points

This move makes British Airways Avios points more flexible. Many travelers will never save up enough points for a dreamy first class flight to paradise, but being able to put a relatively small number of points towards something like a seating assignment, which will improve any journey is a winner. We’re not saying its a good deal or a bad deal, just an opportunity. No one is forcing anyone to use points for a seating assignment, they can still pay cash, but if you’ve got a stack of miles which is never going to amount to a free flight worth taking, this is a very fair new option. But before you cash in those points, don’t forget short haul flights start at just 4,000 points one way, and may be a much better way to spend points. Upgrades can be excellent value as well, for 20,000 points and up.

How To Book

There’s no need to wait! Travelers can now officially book seats in advance using Avios points to pay for some or all of the cost. Simply login to your Executive Club account and visit “Manage My Booking” to select seats and pay with points. Thanks to family sharing, members can pool their collective points together to book seats. In general, you’ll find the most legroom in bulkhead (first row) or exit row seats on all planes. Look for these advantageous seats and you’ll be a happy camper… err, traveler. While you’re at it – here’s how to survive economy like a professional traveler.

How do you feel about these moves?