Anne Majumdar

Watchdogs in the UK are trying to determine if airlines are deliberately misleading their passengers when it comes to seat selection fees.

The policy adds as much as GBP 390 million to ticket prices every year, raising concerns consumers are being flummoxed by the additional fees.

The review is the result of an increase in the number of complaints by passengers travelling in groups who have been made to pay extra to sit together.

The regulator recently released research which revealed that 10% of over 4000 consumers who flew as part of a group were only told they would have to pay extra to guarantee seats with their group after they had made the booking.

Meanwhile, a further 10% said they weren’t made aware of such charges.

Almost half the respondents believed the airline would automatically assign their seats together, the agency said.

The findings also show consumers have a better chance of being seated together without charge with some airlines than with others.

“Airline seating practices are clearly causing some confusion for consumers,” said Andrew Haines, the chief executive officer of the CAA.

“Our research shows that some consumers are paying to sit together when, in fact, they might not need to.”

Airlines will be required to provide information on how they seat passengers booked as part of a group to find out if they are “pro-actively splitting” them up.

Haines promised the CAA would “not hesitate” to take action if necessary.

Do you think airline seat selection fees are justified?