We rate this move, 1 star…
Etihad Airways has become the latest airline to introduce fees for economy seat selection, in advance of 24 hours prior to flight. Now, this move wouldn’t be interesting in the slightest, if the airline was say… Ryanair, but for a SkyTrax “Five Star” rated airline, the move comes with great surprise and dismay. Passengers will now be forced to pay an additional fee to secure a coveted seat in economy, making this the latest in a series of cost cutting maneuvers to keep Etihad in the friendly skies…
Etihad is playing coy with their latest cost cutting measures, with no forward facing cost structure for potential travelers to peruse in advance. After some digging, it appears the airline is charging roughly $25 each way for standard seat selection, and a whopping $140 for an exit row, or other preferred seat. It’s hard to imagine charging a passenger $280 round trip to enjoy a bit of extra legroom! These fees apply not only to the lowest fares, but to almost all Etihad economy fares, including “classic”.
A “Big” Change
The airline has charged for preferred seating assignments since 2017, but this move marks an undeniable cost grab from customers. Etihad is hardly the only airline to charge for standard seat assignments, with many European and American airlines also opting for this extra revenue stream, but for an airline which brands itself on luxury, it’s an extremely negative turn. Virgin Atlantic, for example, charges for an advanced assignment on the airlines lowest fares, but offers free seat assignments for travelers booking “classic”, or “delight” their mid tier and upper tier economy offerings.
An Emirates Takeover?
Rumors of an Emirates takeover of Etihad have loomed for years, but the airlines present financial state, and endless tailspin of cost cutting measures makes the airline seem more ripe than ever for an actual takeover, which could make true financial sense. An Emirates acquisition of Etihad would bolster Emirates position as the flag carrier and hub of the region, without true competition from a neighboring state. Abu Dhabi would undoubtedly take a hit, as more passengers are ferried via Dubai, but the airport already offers close proximity to Abu Dhabi anyway. One thing is for certain, Etihad’s uncertainty and new cost cutting measures aren’t impressing anyone.