Air India passengers will now have to shell out more for choosing middle seats in the front and the middle portions of the aircraft, according to a communication. A senior airline official said the move would help in garnering more ancillary revenues. Disinvestment-bound Air India would now charge passengers for advance reservation of middle seats.
Presently, people are charged for reserving seats on front, bulkhead and emergency exit rows. These seats have extra leg space. Besides, window and aisle seats in the front and the middle portions of the aircraft are also chargeable. In a communication sent out to travel agents, Air India has said reservation for middle seats in the front and the middle portions of the aircraft would be chargeable.
However, “all seats in the rear portion, including window, aisle and middle will remain free of charge”, it said. The senior airline official said the decision to charge a fee for seat selection is in line with market trends. “The move is also aimed at increasing ancillary revenues, which currently account for less than one per cent of the total revenues,” he said.
At present, the official said, Air India gets around Rs 100 crore from additional baggage allowance and another Rs 200 crore from upgrades of passengers to business class. The charges for reserving middle seats would be Rs 100 for domestic flights and certain international flights. For most of the overseas flights, the charge would be Rs 200 or a fixed amount based on the local currency of the particular destination.
As per the airline, bassinet seats for infants would be provided free of charge. The facility of paid seat selection would be available till four hours before departure of a flight. “For all narrow-body aircrafts last 7 to 8 rows and for wide-body aircrafts last 9 to 14 rows have been made free of charge,” the communication said. Many airlines charge extra fee from passengers in case they are choosing their seats which also acts as an additional source of ancillary revenue.