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Paying extra for allocated seats is a waste of money – unless you’re flying with Ryanair

Joanna Faith
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Joanna Faith

Paying extra to sit together on a plane is a waste of time in the vast majority of cases, an investigation by Which? reveals.

The consumer group looked at the experiences of 3,357 economy passengers and found that nine in 10 people who refused to pay the extra fee to select a seat were seated together anyway.

Ryanair is the only airline where it may be worth forking out the extra fee. Passengers ended up seated together just 46% of the time if they didn’t pay for allocated seats.

All of the 10 most popular airlines that operate paid-for seating options confirmed they seat families, couples and groups together, with the exception of Ryanair and Wizz Air.

Under Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) guidelines, airlines should aim to sit parents close to children and parents should not have to pay to avoid being seated away from their child.

But airlines are not currently obliged to follow this advice.

Which? said it had heard from some parents who’d been separated from children as young as four on flights.

Some airlines (including BA, Thomas Cook and Tui) state that children under 12 will always be seated with at least one adult.

“Unless you are flying with Ryanair or Wizz Air or fancy a little extra legroom, it’s not worth paying more to choose your seat, as you’ll be seated next to your travelling companions anyway,” said Rory Boland, Which? travel editor.

“It’s worrying to hear that parents are being separated from young children. It’s reprehensible for any airline to make money by splitting up families and we would encourage the regulator to examine such cases closely to ensure the guidelines are working.”