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…

a plane flying in the skyA “Small” Fee

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.

HT: LoyaltyLobby


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I think the take over will not be of etihad by Emirates. As you know, these smaller kingdoms are ruled by one brother each.

    Abu Dhabi has a lot more wealth that Dubai. He bailed out Dubai many times any in the process acquired various landmarks (eg Burj Dubai became burj khalifa).

    My take is he will offer to buy out Emirates and merge the two. Deal will include all airports, or at least the new one that’s in the middle of Auh and dxb. kill etihad and run Emirates as UAEs national airline.

    What do you think?!

  2. So after several years of cost cutting to the point where Etihad has become a degraded to standards similar to many budget airlines, they have now stooped to their latest low with the charging of these fees to select a seat in economy!!! This is what cheap budget airlines do because they have cheap flights. Etihad flights are not cheap, in fact if you fly from Abu Dhabi to anywhere, they are perhaps the most expensive of all airlines- yet you must now pay extra to select a seat!!! What an absolute disgrace and further evidence of their hunger for money. Don’t believe the crap that they are losing money, this is not true. They are making more than enough profit and are funded by the rich UAE government, so there is absolutely no reason to introduce these extra charges. After all the complaints on Etihad (I see that they are most complained about airline in the world), how do they have the face to make these extra charges? Welcome to the world’s new budget airline from the UAE- Etihad Budget (“budget” only in terms of services, not price!!!). Shame on you Etihad!

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