• The Skint Traveller

British Airways BA Seat Selection – Do you need to Pay or Not in 2020?

Today, we were faced with a real dilemma, do we, or do we not pay the British Airways Seat Selection fee for our flights?

We research the options for you and reviewed the seat map charts, the seat change policy and economy seat reservations.

We investigate for you how to pick the best seats & asked ourselves - Is it really worth paying the BA Reservation Seat fees?

If your were not already aware, British airways charge all passengers a seat reservation fee in all classes except when flying in First Class.

Yes, you read that correct. Even Business class passengers have to pay to select their seats.

Our BA Seat Reservation Fee Dilemma...

As time grew closer to our departure, I regularly check the seats available on our flights by logging into my British Airways Executive Club account everyday. Up until the last few days there were still 3 x sets of seats available.

Then today, when I logged in, I was faced with the dilemma of only 2 x sets of seats available on the seat map and still a week to go to our flight - does this sound familiar to you?

The problem is neither of us hold any Higher status in British Airways other than Blue (entry-level), so do not have the Privilege of confirming our seats at the time of booking for free.


British airways BA seat selection for free only applies 24 hours before your departure.

British Airways do not provide Free Seat Selection to any Passengers even booked in Business (Club Europe / Club World) & Not in Premium Economy

The only Seat that British Airways currently offer free of charge to select at the point of booking is First Class.

So how do you select your seat for free if you’re not flying in BA First Class?

A Beginners Guide to BA Status - is it worth it?

When you view the above chart, you will see that the “Blue” Tier Level which we are at present only provides a few benefits. You do collect Avios Points on all cash booked flights, collect Tier Points & you manage to Save your details in your account. Anyone joining the British Airways Executive Club gets automatic Blue level Status.

Bronze Tier Level:

To achieve Bronze Tier level status you have to fulfil requirements set out by British Airways. These include needing to have booked using Cash and flown on British airways or on one of their Alliance Partner airlines a minimum of Twice and have to have earnt 300 x Tier Points, or taken 25 x BA flights.


The benefits include 25% more avios points on bookings, Priority check-in & Boarding.

When you’re a Bronze Tier Member you can only select your Seats for Free 7 x days before your departure.

BA Silver Tier Level

To achieve Silver level you also have to fulfil requirements set out by British Airways. These include needing to have booked using Cash and flown on British airways or on an Alliance Partner airline a minimum of Four times and have to have earn 600 x Tier Points, or taken 50 x BA flights.


When you’re a Silver Tier Member you can select your Seats for Free at the time of Booking. Additional benefits include 50% more avios on bookings, Priority check-in & Boarding, access to Business class Lounges & additional baggage allowances.

Gold Tier Level

To achieve the Gold Tier Level you need to have booked using Cash and flown on BA or on an Alliance Partner airline a minimum of Four times and have to have earn 1500 x Tier Points.


When you’re a Gold Tier Member you can select your Seats for Free at the time of Booking.

Additional benefits include 100% more avios on bookings, First class Priority check-in & Boarding, access to Business & First class Lounges & additional baggage allowances & additional flight availability.

In short...

You need to be a Minimum of BA Bronze Tier Level status to even confirm your BA seat selection reservation fee for Free 7 x days before your departure and to ensure you get the seat on BA you really want immediately, you need to get to Silver / Gold Tier status to select and confirm your seat/s at the time of Booking.

The Seat Selection Fee – The Alternatives:

In short, The British Airways Seat Selection Fee in most cases is always payable unless you have Silver / Gold Status at the time of Booking or unless of course your flying in First Class.

Remember the only "Free" option available to anyone flying or Blue members is to use the wait until 24 hours before your departure.

BA Seat Selection fees - The Facts:

Every booking made on British Airways are provided at the check-out the option to pay to to select your seats otherwise known as the seat reservation fee.

Our Club Europe fee stated £48.00 to confirm both our Seats one way. That is £96.00 just to select all our seats on a return basis, you would of thought paying Business class you would get this free.

We decided against paying cash for the seats purely on principal as we feel anyone flying in BA Business Class should not have to pay, and we like to pay the minimum we can for our flights / holidays.

British Airways Seating Chart / Maps:

All BA flights provide a seating chart map to assist passengers to locate and select their preferred seats.

The BA Seat map displays information such as Row numbers, Seat assigned numbers and other preferred seats such as the Emergency Exit Rows Seats.

The seat map also displays different seats per Cabin class such as Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class.

The BA Seat map is very useful in assisting passengers to enable them to select accurately where they prefer to sit on a plane. Some people do not like to sit at the back of the plane, some prefer not to sit over the wing etc.

BA Seat Selection – Using Avios Points - the alternatives to paying cash

Our Solution, and the best value for us at the time was to use Avios Points to Select & Confirm our Seats for free or wait 24 hours and get the reservations for free.

Not many people know that you can use Avios points to select their seats at the time of booking. Strangely, when we logged in using our BA app we could not find the option to use Avios to Confirm our seats. I had to log in to my BA Executive Club via a Tablet / Desktop account and found the option under “Manage my Booking”.

How to use Avios Points to pay for your Seat Selection

To use Avios Points whilst logged into your BAEC account and not via the BA app, select your seats and confirm your selection.

Proceed to the payment stage for the seats, when you arrive at the Payment page, scroll down and you should see the option to pay with avios points.

If you do not have enough Avios Points to cover the required amount, you are given the option to part pay with avios and cash.

We have been in a very lucky position to collect all our Avios points for free We have managed to build up a sizeable amount of free avios points and some profit from this scheme which has enabled us to travel in Business Class flights to luxury destinations staying in 5 Star Resorts all for Free.

Our BA Seat Selections Overview / Recommendations:

You can select your seat for Free 24 hours before departure. If you can “sweat it out” and take the chance that your preferred seats may not be available at this point, then this is the cheapest route available.

This charges can range from £24.00 to £89 per person each way depending on if you’re flying certain cabins and short / long haul.

Can you seat change on BA?

Yes, if you have secured a seat already, at anytime you can go into your BA executive club account and change your seat location as long as your alternatives are still available.

For us personally and after an awkward 11 hour flight seated immediately next to a complete stranger on a previous British airways Club World flight, we decided to now always choose our seats prior to departure or as soon as we book our flights.

If you like the idea of becoming a BA Silver / Gold Tier Status Member that provides you free seat selection at the time of booking then this is the other option available to you.

Manufacturing Tier Points to gain Silver / Gold by flying on purpose does not come cheaply. The value in becoming Silver / Gold will all depend on how often you fly using British Airways so you can fully utilise the benefits. If you travel frequently for Business or Leisure then this status should be fairly easy to acquire.

Did you know if you hold BA Silver Status or above, you gain free access to all One world alliance lounges - Gatwick BA Business Lounge - Heathrow Terminal 5 Lounges

For the rest of us without BA Status, you can pay cash or use our preferred choice pay using Avios points. Once again the value needs to be looked at with this option as this all depends on how much those avios points cost you in the First place.

Our Conclusions / Recommendations:

We only had two options available to us at the time, pay cash to a total of nearly £100 to secure our seats, both ways or use Avios Points.

Avios Points in the traveller loyalty point market tend to attract a generalised value of 1p per point. In our opinion this value depends on lots of factors, being the most important to us is what you paid for those points in the first place.

If you shop in Tesco, you will be collecting Clubcard Points for Free which when converted to avios points equal 2.4x the face value of 1 x Clubcard Point. We had a generous pot of points accumulated for Free via previous generous promotional items.

To us, using avios points rather than spending nearly £200 in cash out of our pocket was preferential.

If your like us and prefer to know you have confirmed seats next to each other on your flight, you need to take one of the options discussed above, Pay cash or use Avios Points.

We did pay for our Club Europe tickets only using 65,000 avios points and £98.00 in taxes, the cash price from BA for these flights were £660. This equates to 65k avios points providing a value to us of £558.00.

We had our Best Flight ever on the new 787-9 Dreamliner recently - Read our Review found here - BA Dreamliner 787-9

Remember that you can collect Avios Points for Free via the American Express Gold Card Reviews found here – Amex Gold Card or the American Express British airways credit card.

Have you ever been in a similar dilemma? We would love to hear your thoughts on the matter below.

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