Air France-KLM will start charging seat selection fees in business class effective today for travel on April 13, 2023, or later. While this is unwelcome news for the majority of its customers, it aligns Air France with British Airways, which has a longstanding policy of charging seat selection fees even to business class passengers.
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Air France-KLM Introduces Advanced Seat Selection Fees in Business Class
Air France-KLM has announced that it will begin charging seat selection fees in business class today for travel on April 13, 2023, or later. The fees will be applicable on long-haul routes, with the exception of flights to and from North America.
Here are some of the details of the new policy:
- The seat selection fees will apply to business class travelers who are not elite members of Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty program.
- The fees will vary depending on the specific flight and seat chosen but will range between €70 and €90 per flight.
- Fees are waived for elite Flying Blue members (Silver, Gold, and Platinum), Business Flex passengers, and corporate customers (excluding bluebiz). Significantly, there’s no mention of the fees being waived for partner SkyTeam elites.
Passengers in business class can still select any available seat of their choice during check-in without any fee. Essentially, this is Air France-KLM applying the same advanced seat selection policy to business class as they’ve long had for economy class.
Comparing Air France-KLM and British Airways Policies
As mentioned, British Airways has a longstanding policy of charging for advanced seat selection in business class, so in some respects, Air France-KLM is simply aligning itself with its competition.
However, the implementation is a bit different on British Airways. As a British Airways Executive Club Gold member, I’m exempt from seat selection fees on British Airways flights including the Club World business class cabin with its new selection of English sparkling wine. But British Airways doesn’t only extend this perk to its own elite frequent flyers. The courtesy is extended to all Oneworld alliance elites.
Based on the information available, it appears Air France-KLM is planning to limit free advanced seat selection in business class to their own Flying Blue elite members. This will likely result in dissatisfaction among elite members of other SkyTeam airlines but, all in all, isn’t surprising given SkyTeam’s issues when it comes to extending elite benefits across the alliance.
Understanding the Move
Although charging seat selection fees in business class may not be a popular decision, some frequent flyers will welcome this news. Frequent flyers loyal to Air France-KLM with Flying Blue elite status will benefit from increased availability of their preferred seats in business class, even when booking last minute.
That’s already the case on British Airways for Oneworld elites and is undeniably a selling point of elite status, especially as the practice becomes more widespread among airlines.
Of course, many passengers will also balk at the perceived nickel-and-diming — especially passengers paying for premium tickets with cash. Then again, from Air France-KLM’s perspective, one of their primary competitors has already introduced this charge, and it’s unlikely any premium passengers will avoid their product because of this fee.
Air France-KLM has been investing in its premium product, particularly on Air France, which has introduced gorgeous new business class suites. While this won’t be welcome news for non-elites booking with the alliance, it doesn’t present a competitive disadvantage. British Airways already charges for advanced seat selection. Meanwhile, their other major competitor, Lufthansa, still hasn’t introduced next-generation premium seats.
Air France-KLM has introduced seat selection fees for business class passengers, effective today for travel on April 13, 2023, or later. The change brings Air France-KLM in line with British Airways, which has charged seat selection fees in business class for years. The fees will apply to non-elite members of the Flying Blue loyalty program and will vary depending on the specific flight and seat chosen.
The new policy will impact long-haul routes but exclude flights to and from North America.