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Pre-purchasing seats on airlines.

So why are we pre-purchasing seats on budget airlines? What happens if we stop? I have taken a real issue with the current state of airlines seat assignment and airline willingness to seat children away from their parents.

I’m not sure when the concept of pre-purchasing seats on airlines started but it seems to be on the increase since the introduction of the budget airlines. Some people choose to pay for their seats and some people choose to leave it to chance and get what they are give in the random seat assignment airlines are now converting to. Being a family of 5 I feel forced to pre-purchase our seats as I’m worried that my 5 year old might end up sitting next to someone other than me or my husband during the seat assignment. So I feel I have to pay the extra cost of $5 with Jetstar, $6 with TigerAir and $19 with Air Asia. These are their standard prices, some of the seats could be much more, just for extra leg room. This adds a substantial amount of money to a family of 5.

seat assignment
Charges for seat allocation on Tigerair.


seat assignment
Seat allocation charges on Air Asia.


seat assignment
Charges for seat allocation with Jetstar.


Airline Seat Assignment

We have recently stopped pre-purchasing seats for domestic flights within Australia. Check-in now opens 48 hours before your flight so we just make sure we check-in as soon as it opens and so far we have been able to get seats sitting together.

I would like to suggest that we all stop pre-purchasing tickets. Then my theory would be that they would have to either stop charging us for them or lower the prices. I know not everyone is going to do this and I have found that domestically I can get away without pre-purchasing but I think when we fly overseas later in the year with Air Asia that I will again feel compelled to pre-purchase our seating. We are flying to Mackay in 4 weeks and we have not pre-purchased seating so I will report back on how we went and whether we were seated together.

It’s a real bug-bear of mine that you book a flight and then have to purchase a seat. I can understand if you want to purchase a seat with extra leg room and so forth but a for stock standard seat on the plane shouldn’t it be an expectation that you then have a seat on the plane with the other people in that booking? Is this too much to ask, does anyone agree that this is pretty ludicrous? We flew with VietJet in Vietnam and had none of these issues, it’s blatant price gouging.

I would love to hear other peoples opinions on this, please leave your comments below and any ways that you have come across that may help others getting around having to shell out extra cash for something that should just be an expectation. Tell me, why are we paying for this?

Rant over!




This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Bec @ HoP

    They’d just find some other way to charge the money, or add it to the ticket price.

    1. Sally

      Very true Bec, its just so frustrating, for us if flying Air Asia its another $100 on top of the airfares. Now don’t start me on credit cards fees, that’s a whole other post! 🙂

  2. Krish

    Hi, I work for an airline, I used to work on the ground prior to earning my wings and becoming cabin crew.
    I’ll tell you some industry secrets.
    1. If your booking is on one book reference number then you will be allocated seats together. (Unless someone buys a seat next to you/or your family)
    2. Check in online and it will save you the cost of having to pay. Internationally you can check in as well.
    3. If you aren’t seated together, always ask – be polite. I used to move people around because they said please and thank you. Even if I couldn’t, I would make note to the flight attendants so they could work some magic on board too. Now as a cabin crew if I have been told, I’m happy to ask for people to move… there is no harm in asking!

    Booking seats: depending on the aircraft type you can always manage to get and extra seat for free. Book out seats A and C, leaving the middle seat spare. (Unless it’s a full flight). If a person does get allocated B ask them if they don’t mind because I assure you they aren’t going to say NO…. No one likes sitting between people!

    1. Sally

      Hi Krish,
      Thanks so much for your feed back. After all the feed back on various platforms I am going to stop pre-purchasing seats and just see how we go. As you say, if people are polite about it others don’t mind helping out. I love that tip about booking A & C seats, very clever. I will be sure to try that one next time we fly long haul.
      I appreciate you providing these tips for my readers.

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