KLM to charge for seat reservations

17 Nov 2015 by Alex McWhirter

Dutch airline KLM is the latest to charge economy passengers a fee if they wish to pre-reserve a seat when flying long or short-haul.

A €20 fee each way will apply to bookings from December 1 and for flights taken on or after January 26.

It will be charged when passengers decide to pre-reserve a seat more than 30 hours in advance of travel.

Critics will believe, as they did with British Airways, that KLM's decision to levy a fee is in reality just another money-making wheeze.

KLM's publicity department sees things differently. It claims the move will mean it can "optimally meet the wishes of its passengers …with greater choice and control".

Harm Kreulen, KLM director for the Netherlands, said the fee will be phased in across the airline's network.

He told Dutch aviation website "The first destinations covered will be in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Then it is Europe's turn.

"We expect that we have anywhere in the network rolled out in 2016."

Kreulen stressed that the €20 fee is not KLM's aim to increase revenue.

He added: "That is not our approach. We do it to offer more choice to those customers who book a ticket at a later time. They often pay more than the early bird but have less choice currently because most places have already been taken."

However, it's not all doom and gloom. KLM said economy passengers can avoid the fee if they are members of its Flying Blue loyalty programme (Platinum, Gold or Silver levels) or are paying one of the higher economy class fares.

As noted above, KLM is not the first European carrier to make a charge — BA and Lufthansa already charge for pre-reserved seating — and it won't be the last.

It hands another competitive advantage to their rivals in the Gulf and Asia.

Alex McWhirter

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