Ikarus
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Exit Row Surcharge?

Thu Feb 20, 2003 6:41 pm

Hi

In another thread (about reclining seats) someone stated that Virgin Atlantic is about to introduce a GBP 50.00 surcharge for emergency exit rows in economy class. Is that information correct? Are any other airlines considering / implementing similar policies? How would this work? (I.e. could you book these things in advance, causing problems if you turn up at the airport and turn out to be 1.30 metre tall and a weak-muscled woman? Or would you be charged on check-in if you ask for an emergency exit row seat?)

Why, if at all, is Virgin Atlantic driven to such a Ryanair-esque move? To me this sounds a bit greedy and not at all like something popular with passengers.

Anyway, thanks if anyone can confirm / clear up these statements...

Regards

Ikarus
 
FutureFO
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Thu Feb 20, 2003 7:58 pm

There are no airlines currently in the US that are charging a surcharge for the Exit row seats. I am not sure about other parts of the world.
I Don't know where I am anymore
 
artsyman
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Thu Feb 20, 2003 10:01 pm

Some of the US airlines are considering this option, exit rows, aisle seats, closer to the front etc.

Jeremy
 
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Thu Feb 20, 2003 10:32 pm

Is charging extra for exit row seats legal? Unless thy were doing it at check in, they would need a way of knowing people were capable of operating the door in the event of an emergency, which would rely on people being honest when booking. It seems to me that the ammount of trouble airlines would go to regulating such a system would outweigh the benefits of it. Also, what if no one buys the seats - are there regulations about having passengers in an exit row to operate the door in the event of an emergency?

V/F
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
 
meechy36
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:13 pm

I know some of the UK charter companies charge for exit row. One time on a LHR layover I stopped in a travel office and picked up some brochures and one of them was offering exit row as premium seating for 100 GBP EACH WAY. This was from the UK to Orlando.

Mike-BOS
 
jmc757
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:19 am

Yes this is common-place on british charter carriers. An example in the Thomson brochure here says from £20 to pre-book extra leg room seats. in the A-Z at the back of the brochure it says "On shorthaul Britannia flights, extra leg room seats will be emergency exit rows, where passengers must be able bodied etc etc...."
Not trying to make Britannia look bad, all of the charter carriers do this.
 
FlyingTexan
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:31 am

I’m sure the US –based cartel carriers are so excited about this.
"Wouldn't your boss like to fly home nonstop at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?" -Airline Exec to Congressional Staffer
 
gmonney
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:45 am

Here in Canada, carriers like Air Transat charge $20 canadian to book exit row seats, or any seats for that matter. When i requested the exit row, they asked if i was over 18, and not disabled.....

Grant
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petazulu
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:50 am

I would be willing to pay more for an exit row seat. I would also pay more to be up front or in a non-middle seat. How much more?

On Long Haul (more than 4 hours):
Exit row= $50
Front third of plane= $30
Window Seat= $20
Aisle Seat $30

So an aisle exit row seat in the front of the plane would cost an extra $110 dollars or $220 round trip. Sounds reasonable to me and would guarantee a better flight and preparedness for meetings.

The problem currently is that some airlines only let full fare fliers book seats up front, etc. That is often a price diffeence of $500 - $1000 dollars on long-haul flights. NOT worth it.

Airlines do not take advantage of this stuff in my opinion. Supply and Demand 101. You want to buy a $200 RT JFK-LHR? OK- but you will be stuck in the back on a middle seat (low demand). For $400 on the same flights, you get front of plane exit row aisle seat (higher demand). Many people would jump on that. The computer technology exists for this type of menu based pricing.

On another thread I mentioned paying an extra $25 for inclement weather insurance (hotel coupon, etc). Not only is this extra revenue, but it also CLEARLY adjusts traveller expectation levels since they voluntarily opt in or out of certain amenities.

What do you all think? Why hasn't this been done?
 
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 3:43 am

There is absolutely no way that U.S. based carriers will implement such a policy.

Why? There are several reasons:

1. Historically, carriers have rewarded loyal elite frequent fliers by giving them preferential seating, including access to the exit row. Adding a surcharge for exit row seating would wipe out this perk.

2. The logistics of enabling travel agents or the airline's reservations or airport personnel to collect added funds based on an individual seat assignment are nightmarish. Also, in the event of an equipment change where you're no longer able to accomdate an exit row seat assignment, you'd end up refunding the money.

3. Since most carriers are attempting to emulate the profitable LCCs, they would not go down the road of charging extra for a particular seat, since the LCCs do not have such a policy.

4. The perception of being "nickel and dimed to death" by the major U.S. carriers is already a very negative one in the eyes of consumers. Extra fees for paper tickets, extra fees for standby travel, "use-it-or-lose-it" ticket policies...they all add up to make airlines look very user-unfriendly. Adding another layer of fees for what has historically been free would be yet another blow to the airlines' bottom line, as customers would vote with their wallets by flying carriers that do not have such fees.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
Ikarus
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 4:21 am

Well, I know that LTU introduced a fee for up-front booking of seats, as an added bonus. I don't recall whether that fee depended on the location of the seat though (I think not).

The thing is, there is a difference between charter airlines, no frills airlines and premium product airlines like Virgin Atlantic. To be honest, paying extra for every little amenity is fine if the ticket costs next to nothing and you only fly for an hour or two. But once you fly transatlantic on a world-renowned airline, I wouldn't expect (or welcome) a pay-extra approach to things. What's next? Charging for headphones? Pay-per-view video-on-demand instead of free entertainment? A fee for blankets? Sick bags on demand only (as on Ryanair)?

Virgin Atlantic advertises itself as "the same for less and more for the same" (or even "more for less"). That image just doesn't benefit from surcharges...

Regards

Ikarus
 
NZ767
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 4:53 am

Do you get the surcharge refunded if the unthinkable happens and you actually have to operate the emergency exit?  Insane
 
petazulu
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 5:21 am

All I am suggesting is that it might be worth investigating. People will still get their ultra cheap tickets (perhaps even cheaper)- they just might have to deal with sitting in the middle seat. The airline that implements this idea would price the super cheap tickets at the same price as everyone else.

For those people who want some extra comfort guaranteed at the time of purchase- they can pay upfront.

I don't propose charging people if the only thing available is an aisle seat or an exit row seat by the time they check-in for the flight! I am talking about up-front sales.

Current major airline pricing is so f*&^d up. You can be sitting next to a guy who paid $100 dollars, while you paid $1000. He might even have a better seat. So what is the $900 difference? Aside from last minute convenience- give people something tangible on the plane as well!

For all of you who say the majors would never implement this type of system, I would encourage you to look outside the box a little. It's not like the current system is working to well!!!
 
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 6:12 am

For all of you who say the majors would never implement this type of system, I would encourage you to look outside the box a little. It's not like the current system is working to well!!!

Your logic is flawed, Petazulu. You say the pricing model is screwed up, yet you advocate changing the way seats are assigned instead of asking that the pricing model be fixed?

Does that make sense? Honestly?

Most U.S. majors are addressing the relative inequities in their fare structures. While it makes perfect sense for last-minute, more flexible fares to be higher priced, there shouldn't be a 10 to 1 variation between the highest coach fare and the lowest coach fare.

Hopefully the majors will find a way to correct this across the board, but charging for individual seat location is not the way to fix the problems out there.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
petazulu
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 7:04 am

I understand your points. I hate the current pricing model, but am a big fan of variable pricing. The flaws in the current system is in the extreme differences between essentially the same service. Variable pricing in itself is great. LCC's use it too. Target your audience. It has worked in tons of service industries.

Current variable pricing rotates largely around advance purchase time and saturday night stays. this is good (as long as the extreme high and low prices are not bordering on the absurb to the point where considerable resentment is felt by the guy who was a victim of highway robbery).

The next dimension of the concept could be varriable pricing for different seats/ locations on the plane. While it may have been excessivly complicated due to reservations system technology, etc in the past- I am sure it would be feasible today. Look on any reservations website and I get a graphical layout of the plane along with available seats. What if these seats were colour coded? The better the seat, the more it would cost.

Now I am not talking about HUGE price differences here, but some people would gladly pay $40 bucks (3000 FF miles?) to be in seat 5C on a 757 instead of 36B. Especially with tight connections, meetings, whatever. Bingo! Extra revenue on every flight and everyone could be happy. In fact, airlines could price middle seats so as to undercut the competition. People looking for the most rock bottom prices, would gravitate towards this option- but know up front what to expect.

The airline would get their money from the cheapos, while still making a bunch of others very happy and since most seats are Aisle/Window seats- increase revenue overall.
 
FlyingTexan
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 7:25 am

In fact, airlines could price middle seats so as to undercut the competition. People looking for the most rock bottom prices, would gravitate towards this option- but know up front what to expect.

But then every snowbird on $157.00 LGA-PBI R/T show up at the airport and bitch that they did not know anything about middle seat and that THEY ALWAYS have an aisle! LOL!

BTW - AMR's narrow body fleet has many MD-80s and Fokker 100s. Only 20% of coach seating is a middle seat.

On the 757 and 737, middle seat is 1/3 of coach seating.

On all RJs - everyone get either window or aisle (or both)!

I'm sure the cartel majors in US would LOVE to charge for something extrAA!!! Especially something that top tier FFs already get for free. I think it could get so complicated, they'd spend more $$$ than its worth.

JR FlyingTexan
"Wouldn't your boss like to fly home nonstop at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?" -Airline Exec to Congressional Staffer
 
artsyman
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 7:57 am

There is absolutely no way that U.S. based carriers will implement such a policy.

Sadly this isnt the case, I know Continental for one are looking into this as well as a few of the other majors
 
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 8:19 am

Continental for one are looking into this as well as a few of the other majors

There's a big difference between looking into something and actually doing it, though.

Pan Am once went as far as to sell tickets to the moon! Many U.S. carriers once had orders for the Concorde and the Boeing 2707 SST...

Like FlyingTexan said, I'm positive they'll realize that any such program would be more trouble than it's worth.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
UK_Dispatcher
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 8:19 am

I hate this policy - it is used by most of the UK charter carriers already, and I would be really disappointed if the likes of Virgin Atlantic were to implement it!
 
airchabum
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 8:32 am

I read an email at work from a guy in the dept at VS who implemented this idea. As has been said, a lot (if not all) of the UK charter carriers now charge for exit row seats and this was seen by VS as a way of generating extra revenue on what are generally low-yield flts ex LGW (ie to Florida, Las Vegas and the Caribbean). To start with it was only offered on LGW departures but has proved successful and will soon be offered on flts inbound to LGW and also ex LHR.

I can't remember all the details but I think the seats are offered upto 2hrs before departure at which time they are all allocated as normal so there's still a chance that you'll get one even though you're not paying extra. I think they are charged at £50 per sector which isn't bad considering you're getting more legroom than in Premium Economy and pretty much the same service for a much lower price. I don't work on check-in but apparently the reaction from the public has been quite favourable.

No airline is making huge bucks at the moment so any way of generating a bit of extra cash has to be seriously looked at.
Biggidy biggidy bong
 
jhooper
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 8:46 am

They should pay you to sit in the exit row! Think about what you're responsible for! If you're placed into a position where you would actually have to open the door, you are, in effect, acting as a crew member.
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
airsicknessbag
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:10 am

1) I can´t really imagine the additional cost for administrating this fee doesn´t eat up the premium. But then, I´m not really in a position to competently assess that.

2) I don´t like the idea: the more space you buy, the more expensive is your ticket, granted. But the additional space at the exit row wasn´t created for passenger comfort but passenger safety. What´s next, a surcharge for flying a widebody?

3) A service fee for any prebooked seat is an entirely different matter (and fine with me). It´s absolutely unusual for the German Y class flyer to be able to preebook seats for free. It´s either not possible at all (LH) or only for a charge (holiday airlines).

4) The extra legroom often comes with a non-reclinable seat-back or fragile tables.

Daniel Smile
 
Boeingfan
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 4:46 pm

Charter airlines can charge extra for preferred economy seating and I am glad to see they take advantage of the revenue opportunity.

As far as in the US domestic market, just about all airlines are "looking into" additional fee seating. With in several months (pending global tension in the middle east) airline by airline will announce a hierarchy of additional service fees based upon ticket price and Loyalty Program or Frequent Flyer (FF) level. This way the FF will not be inconvenienced or slighted on any flight.

First, discounting of air mileage based upon FF level and fare paid. This is already occurring with DL, CO and believe some other airlines? Lower airfares only receive 50% of the actual miles flown. Next, for a fee you will be able to up the percentage to say 75% miles flown, for an additional fee.

Preassigned seating for very discount seats, unless you are a premium teer level FF member, will eventually not be offered for free.

However, if you would like a preassigned seat there will be a "service fee" collectible via the internet, travel agency or reservation office.

Next, area of economy cabin, certain seats will hold a fee premium, aisles, and (second emergency row narrow body equipment as first emerg. row are non recline) emergency exit rows. Forward area of the cabin window. There would be different prices set, easily be accomplished with today's technology.

IFE will become fee based (as CO, DL charge for headsets @ $5, you do get to keep them and reuse another flight.) As the IFE move to the back of each individual seat, another revenue opportunity.

The inflight meal purchase trials at DL and HP have worked quite well, though not revenue generating the programs do eliminate a cost. (Look for the disposal/refuse/green fee is attached at time of ordering? Pay for the flight attendant that picked up the item.)

Nickel and dimes are in, and the US population understands it, accepts it, and are willing to pay for it. Just look at any US utility bill (power or phone) the number of added fees, taxes and sur charges are phenomenal. Ashtray's in automobiles are now cost options when purchasing a car. "AAla carte" is in!

A good motto in the airline business today, "for a fee, not for free."

Airlines must improve their revenues, cut cost and charge for the product and services that customers value!

Always offer the best product available, (as preceived by your customer; be it price or space or meals or schedule or equipment or ground/inflight service or....maintenance?.) This is the only way to survive the current blood bath.

Smiles cost, when you fly multi million dollar, fuel guzzling birds and maintenance intensive assets.

2 cents Bf
 
milemaster
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 5:52 pm

This would never work..

Wherever you have multiple carriers going to the same destination, each would be setting themselves up for losses.

Example.. DFW-DEN.. All operated non-stop by AA, UA, Frontier, DL. All have middle seats and exit rows. Well, if AA sells out their cheap middle seats then who's going to pay for the aisle rows? Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity will display the other three until THEY sell out their middle seats.

Why not charge a median fare and just fill them traditionally like what is currently being done?

I can see why this would maybe work on charters, but this could never work in a effectively competitive environment.
 
jhooper
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 5:54 pm

If I'm understanding what you mean correctly, a "median" fare does not align the customers' willingness to pay to the value they recieve, and is thus not efficient.
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
aviasian
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 7:46 pm

How exciting!!! Soon one will be given a whole menu when booking a flight or when checking in with the option to enjoy the following for a fee:

- post-takeoff drink
- headphones
- blanket
- footrest (if you don't pay, we will chain it to the seat in front)
- toilet (based on per visit, and on nature of usage)
- window seat (lower fee for overwing window seat)
- inflight entertainment or info channels
- view from nose-mounted camera
- view from tail-mounted camera (on A340-600)
- use of cabin baggage locker (by weight and volume)
- magazines, inflight magazines, newspapers
- priority at meal service
- special meals (VGML, Kosher meal etc)

what an interesting way for airlines to milk the passengers . . . not all of the above are new. I remembered that when I flew SAS from SIN-CPH-MUC in 1984, headphones and drinks (not served during meal service) are extra.

KC Sim
Bangkok
 
petazulu
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:19 pm

This is a pretty understandable concept to many people.

You want a "Guaranteed" aisle seat at the time you pay for the ticket? Pay extra $20 bucks (or 2000FF Miles). I would pay extra to be able to place my butt in the spot I most enjoy on the plane. I don't see this as "milking" people. You are paying for a more enjoyable ride, greater space, etc.

If you are not willing to pay it, then you run the risk of being in a middle seat.

As for food. On domestic flights- I don't want my ticket money going towards a nasty sandwich- when I could bring my own. If you want lunch- pay for it.
 
Guest

RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sat Feb 22, 2003 12:03 am

"Think about what you're responsible for! If you're placed into a position where you would actually have to open the door, you are, in effect, acting as a crew member".

Well, it would be nice to be in 1 piece after a plane crash...  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

For me it's simple. I'm not really that tall (under 6'), so I wouldn't bother with all this extra charging stuff.

Now, charging for a window well behind (or well in front  Big grin ) of the wing would have to mean paying up, as far as I'm concerned.

Just imagine, "aviation enthusiasts - unrestricted reviews: $20 supplement/sector" Big grin

rgds

p.s. in my experience, at least on the Virgin 742s, an exit row seat yields no window  Sad
 
vermeer
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sat Feb 22, 2003 4:06 am

I love this kind of speculations...
I can't help but to see how ( some) airlines are so much focused on the nitty gritty of squeezing every sigle hypotetical cent out of the passengers while losing the big picture and developing strategies for the long term future.
To make them survive and/or prosper FOR THE LONG RUN.

On a quite fun note, I can see the angered passengers who paid the extra for the fee having, all of a sudden, a neighbor who switched from a "lower fee" seat to the "premium" in the cabin...
a little bit of what happens for United Economy Plus, a big shift around of people  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
ZSSNC
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sat Feb 22, 2003 4:23 am

I think that a system in which you got charged for seat reservations would indeed cause the airlines more trouble than good. Just think about if there are aircraft changes (= in not the same amount of aisle, window and emergency exit seats and additional administrative cost (usually CRS are rebooking passengers randomly in the aircraft only taking into account whether the seat is supposed to be NSSA or NSSW, i.e. a CRS never actually pays attention to what compartment of the airplane the prior reservation had been made, and this is already today a problem as many travel agents tell their customers that they are entitled to that specific seat they made a reservation for. This is, of course, not true, as a passenger is only entitled to a seat but not to a specific seat. Thus any responsible airline would tell you when you make a seat reservation with them that this seat reservation is subject to an aircraft change)). Furthermore, if you have families traveling together, they would - if one was to follow Petazulu's suggestions - have to pay different amounts for their tickets if they want to be seated together and not behind eachother in the middle seat. I am sure that this would also be a reason for many travelers to chose a different airline.

ZSSNC
Airbus A340-600 - the longest temptation in the sky
 
jhooper
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sat Feb 22, 2003 5:14 am

Hey, I'd pay extra for the view of the camera on the nose!
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
cschleic
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sat Feb 22, 2003 2:07 pm

What happens when there's a change of plane, overbooking, etc. on the route? Sounds like a nightmare. And I've seen some "exit" rows on widebodies with the portion of the door that holds the slide bulge out so much it cuts off legroom of the window side seat. That's no deal at all. I've seen last minute switching of exist row seats all the time. Seems like a major headache. Could be just another attempt to create incremental revenue that would create more frustration in the long run.
 
Leezyjet
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sun Feb 23, 2003 3:47 am

"In another thread (about reclining seats) someone stated that Virgin Atlantic is about to introduce a GBP 50.00 surcharge for emergency exit rows in economy class. Is that information correct?"

I believe that was me, and yes it is correct. Basically in the trials at LGW, they raised over £80K from the selling of the e/exit seats in one month just on outbounds, so times that by the rest of the routes over the course of a year and there is potentially alot of money there for the making.

There were a few teething troubles that resulted in us paying out about £1K in compensation, but the system seems to be working so well now that it's being introduced across the whole network, except for flights to/from MCO. Due to the high number of families with children on that route it's not practical to charge for exits, as they struggle to fill them with able bodied adult pax anyway.

The wondow seats on the exit row will not be sold due to the slides being there and taking up most of the leg room, so it works out that there will be about 12 seats on each flight. The seats will only be sold at check-in so that the staff are able to assess the suitability of the pax to sit there.

It will be interesting to see how it is welcomed at LHR by the passengers, if it turns out to be a success, I'm sure we will see other carriers following VS's lead (as they seem to do with everything else  Big grin ). Personally I think that it might loose us some pax to our competitors who do not charge, but then again people might welcome the idea that they can just hand over £50 and be guaranteed the legroom, where as on other carriers they would be in the lottery with everyone else. LHR pax are differant to those on the LGW flights who tend to be holidaymakers that are used to travelling on charter airlines and therefore used to having to pay for the e/exits, and I'm sure if they get enough complaints they will scrap the idea.

I guess we will all just have to "Watch this space".

 Smile
"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
 
josseposse
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RE: Exit Row Surcharge?

Sun Feb 23, 2003 5:51 am

Hey, I'd pay extra for the view of the camera on the nose!

Fly Austrian Airlines!

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