Emirates confirms plan to introduce seat selection charge

Dubai carrier to charge between AED50 and AED150 for those who wish to select their seats 48 hours ahead of their planned departure
Emirates confirms plan to introduce seat selection charge
The economy class cabin of an Emirates Airbus A380. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
By Neil Halligan
Tue 20 Sep 2016 12:23 PM

Emirates has confirmed plans to introduce a charge for seat selection on its flights from next month.

The Dubai-based carrier will introduce a “minimal” charge for passengers who wish to select their seats 48 hours ahead of their planned departure.

The new charges will be AED50 ($13) for adults on shorter flights to the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Africa and the Indian Ocean, and AED25 ($7) for children. The mid-distance flights to South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Kingdom, the charge rises to AED100 ($27), with AED50 for children. For long-haul destinations like US, Canada, Brazil and Australia the pre-booking charge is AED150 ($40) for adults and AED75 ($20) for children.

"Emirates can confirm the introduction of a minimal charge for those looking to select their Economy Class seat in advance, for tickets issued on or after October 3, 2016,” an Emirates spokesperson said.

“The charge is only applicable on Special and Saver fares in Economy Class and will vary depending on the duration of the flight. Children below the age of 2 and accompanying passengers on the same booking will be exempted from the fee.

"This charge is also not applicable once online check-in opens, which is 48hrs before flight departure. At this stage, seat selection is free."

Emirates President Tim Clark flagged the planned introduction of a charge at an airlines conference in London earlier this month.

The charge is part of a wider plan by the carrier to boost its ancillary revenues, which also includes introducing a premium economy class on its planes. Emirates also is considering introducing additional baggage charges, Clark revealed.

"We cannot sit back and wait for things to get better," he said.

Emirates posted record profits for the 2015/16 financial year, with earnings up by 56 percent to $1.6 billion.

The world’s largest international carrier saw its passenger numbers rise by 8 percent to 51.9 million over the same period, while capacity increased by 11 percent.

The airline said that fuel had been its biggest expense over the past year, at $5.4 billion and 26 percent of operating costs, while the strong US dollar had eroded its revenues by $1.6 billion, and its profits by $1.1 billion.

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