Paying extra for plane seats a waste - unless its with Ryanair, survey finds

Which? finds 46% of fliers end up sitting together with O’Leary’s firm - average is 86%

Passengers who pay extra for airline seats to make sure they get to sit beside their traveling companions could be wasting their money unless they are flying with Ryanair, a report by a British consumer watchdog states. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Passengers who pay extra for airline seats to make sure they get to sit beside their traveling companions could be wasting their money unless they are flying with Ryanair, a report by a British consumer watchdog states. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

Passengers who pay extra for airline seats to make sure they get to sit beside their traveling companions could be wasting their money - unless they are flying with Ryanair, a report by a British consumer watchdog states.

The Which? Travel investigation analysed the experiences of more than 3,000 economy passengers who flew with 10 of the most popular airlines in Europe.

It found that 86 per cent of those who chose not to pay extra to reserve a seat were seated together anyway.

The main exception was Ryanair which had the lowest proportion of passengers seated together (46 per cent) unless they paid extra for allocated seating.

By contrast, 96 per cent of those flying with Aer Lingus who did not pay for allocated seating ended up together, the highest proportion of passengers seated together. British Airways was on 91 per cent.

The magazine also asked airlines that operate paid-for seating options whether or not they seat families, couples and groups together and all of them confirmed that they did with the exception of Ryanair and Wizz Air.

Ryanair has long admitted that it does not try to keep groups together but has always denied actively splitting them up in order maximise profits by effectively forcing people wishing to sit with traveling companions to pay extra for seats.

Separated

Which? also highlighted a lack of consistency in how airlines handle families travelling with young children and heard from parents who have been separated from children as young as four.

Some airlines ensure children under 12 are seated with at least one adult while others, including Ryanair, insist that at least one adult in a travelling party which includes children select a paid-for seat. They can then reserve seats for up to four children at no cost.

“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, travel editor with Which?.

“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.”