Air India to charge 'family fee' for middle seats on domestic, international flights

 BusinessToday.In        Last Updated: April 17, 2018  | 16:47 IST
Air India to charge 'family fee' for middle seats on domestic, international flights

Monetising preferred airline seats is nothing new. For quite some time now, airlines have been charging passengers a seat selection fee for seats with extra leg room - think front row seats and the emergency exit row - as well as for window and aisle seats, especially in the front half of the plane since it means that one can deplane faster.

But Air India has now started charging passengers even for the middle row seats in a clear attempt to boost ancillary revenues.

Previously, the flag carrier was imposing the seat selection fee only on the front row seats on the long-haul flights, but according to The Times of India, it recently announced that now it will charge extra for most rows on domestic as well as international flights.

So, basically if you want to ensure that your child sits next to you on the flight, be prepared to cough up extra. This extra charge for the middle seat is known as 'family fee' in some countries.

The daily adds that in a circular issued to travel agents, Air India has listed the fee on various routes, which starts at Rs 100 for middle seats on domestic flights, and double that amount for the window or aisle seats.

The middle seat fee has been fixed at Rs 200 on most international routes, except on Kathmandu flights where the fee is Rs 100. The emergency exit row fee ranges between Rs 800 and Rs 1,500, depending on the route, and choosing the window/aisle seat can set you back by anywhere from Rs 240 to Rs 1,500.

However, the national carrier is reportedly demanding a whopping Rs 3,282 extra for the emergency exit row seats on the US-India routes while all the other window/aisle seats will cost Rs 985 extra. Thankfully, the middle seat fee is more wallet-friendly at Rs 197.  

Note that for inbound international flights, the seat selection charge will depend on the local currency of the country you take-off from. The fee is tacked on either at the time of booking a flight online or during web check in.

Meanwhile, Jet Airways, which was already charging a seat fee for the middle seat in the front few rows, has moved on to what may become the next big game in town: Auctioning off an upgrade to its First Class and Premiere section.

According to the website, those eligible for an upgrade will receive an email inviting bids from the airline seven days prior to departure. Pay the bid amount on credit card, and feel free to "modify your big at any time to increase your chances of winning", as it puts it.

If your bid is successful, the airline will charge your card and confirm the upgrade via email within 24 hours of scheduled flight departure. Unsuccessful bids won't get charged and the original booking will stand.

According to Statista, a leading international statistics portal, it was estimated that airlines would generate ancillary revenue of $82.2 billion worldwide in 2017.So what's next in the aviation world's increasingly fancy Nickel-and-Diming Policy? Lavatory fees, perhaps?

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