November 2009 | Cathay Pacific and Air Canada are the latest carriers to join the growing number of full-service airlines that are monetizing their Economy seats with greater legroom, such as those at the bulkhead and in exit rows.
From December 1, Cathay Pacific passengers in economy class on long-haul flights can reserve an ‘Economy Extra-legroom Seat’ for USD100 (EUR70) each way, or by redeeming 20,000 Asia Miles. From January 1, 2010, extra-legroom seats will also be available on flights to regional destinations for USD25 (EUR17.50) or 5,000 Asia Miles. Starting from silver-tier, members of Cathay’s frequent-flier program will still be able to reserve the extra-legroom seats free of charge. The seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis though, and initially can only be reserved via phone and upon check-in at the airport. Online reservation will be available next year.
Last week, Air Canada launched its ‘Preferred Seat’ program, that let’s pasengers purchase an exit row or bulkhead economy seat anytime prior to check-in via the Internet or by phone. Prices start at CAN14 (USD13/EUR9) and depend on flight distance, fare purchased and the frequent flyer status of the customer. Unlike Cathay Pacific passengers, members of Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flier program have to pay as well to reserve an extra legroom seat (although they get a discount) and they can’t pay with miles.
So far, around 10 full-service carriers around the world have introduced paid extra-legroom seat in economy class: Air France, KLM, BA, Virgin Atlantic, Aeroflot, Northwest (Delta last year withdrew the introduction after frequent flyers protested this perk was being monetized), US Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and V Australia.