Emirates has quietly introduced an amended advance seat selection policy, with economy passengers facing charges of up to $135 per flight to select the most sought after seats.

The carrier originally launched advance seat selection fees last year, for economy class passengers travelling on Special and Saver fares.

The new policy, valid for tickets bought after August 20, sees a range of fees introduced for certain “Extra Value” seats. These range according to seat, route and destination, as follows:

Regular seat: $15-$35

Extra Value seats:

  • Preferred seat (a seat closer to the front of the plane allowing you to disembark the plane quickly): $25-$80
  • Twin seat (a row of two seats, at the back of the 777 aircraft and at the front of the aircraft on the upper deck of the A380, and usually closer to the onboard lavatories): $35-$110
  • Extra legroom seat (available for sale up to six hours before flight departure): $55-$135

The fees apply as follows:

  • Economy passengers travelling on Special or Saver fares must pay for all advance seat selection options
  • Economy passengers travelling on Flex or Flex Plus fares must pay for advance selection of Extra Value seat options
  • Business and first class passengers benefit from free advance seat selection
  • All passengers may select seats free of charge when online check-in opens 48 hours before their flight
  • A range of free and paid-for seat selection benefits apply for Emirates Skywards and Qantas Frequent Flyer members depending on tier membership – for full details see here
  • Group bookings including ten or more passengers are exempt from advance seat selection fees

Note that the frequently asked questions section states that “if your itinerary includes connecting flights or stops where you leave the airport”, customers will need to pay for advance seat selection for each sector of the journey – the example given by the carrier is Mumbai – New York JFK, where “you’d need to pay for seat selection on the short haul from Mumbai – Dubai and also on the long haul from Dubai – New York JFK”.

In contrast “if any of the flights in your itinerary has a technical stop where you don’t leave the airport, you will be able to select only one seat for all the flight legs sharing the same flight number” – here the example given is Dubai to Christchurch on flight EK412, where “you will be able to select only one seat for the full journey between Dubai and Christchurch, provided there are no voluntary stops taken at Sydney”.

The new policy is the latest in a range of new optional charges being brought in by Gulf carriers including Emirates and Etihad.

Emirates now allows paid-for access to its Dubai lounges and 27 other lounges worldwide (including Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester), while Etihad has introduced the option to bid for up to three adjacent empty seats in economy.