The that it is going to be conducting a review of airline allocated seating policies after research revealed the current approach is causing confusion among consumers.
Half of respondents believed their airline would automatically allocate them seats together
An online survey conducted between the end of December last year and the beginning of January this year, uncovered the true extent of bewilderment consumers are experiencing when it comes to airline allocated seating policies. Although the vast majority of respondents were aware that sitting together may not be possible, even if they booked as a group, just under half believed that their airline would automatically allocate them seats together.
Out of the group of respondents that paid a premium to ensure that they were sat together, 6 out of 10 said that they did so because of the risk that their group might be split up by the airline.
Consumers flying with some airlines were more likely to report being separated from their group than others
The survey also looked at the chances of being separated if not paying extra to guarantee seats. Out of more than 4,000 respondents, 18% said that they were separated from their group. It was discovered that consumers flying with some airlines were more likely to report being separated from their group than others, with 35% of the respondents, nearly twice the average, who flew with Ryanair and did not pay the premium to sit together, reporting that this had happened to them.
, when passengers accused the budget airline of allocating groups of people seats away from each other, reportedly as a way to make them pay to sit together. Ryanair refuted the accusations and said the seats were “randomly” allocated.
CAA wants to find out whether consumers are being treated fairly
The CAA says that it will “seek more information from airlines about their allocated seating practices”, in order to discover whether consumers are being treated fairly and whether pricing policies are transparent.
“some consumers are paying to sit together when, in fact, they might not need to”
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said: “Airlines are within their rights to charge for allocated seats, but if they do so it must be done in a fair, transparent way. Our research shows that some consumers are paying to sit together when, in fact, they might not need to.
“It also suggests that consumers have a better chance of being sat together for free with some airlines than with others. The research shows that it is the uncertainty around whether their group will be split up by the airline that is driving consumers to pay for an allocated seat.
“Findings from our research show that UK consumers collectively may be paying between £160-390m per year for allocated seating. Of those paying, two-thirds spent between £5 and £30 per seat and a further 8% paid £30 or more. Our work will consider whether or not these charges are fair and transparent”.
CAA will look into “whether any airlines are pro-actively splitting up groups of passengers”
The CAA confirmed that it would be looking into whether any airlines were “pro-actively splitting up groups” when they could be sat together and said that it would not hesitate to take “any necessary enforcement action should it be required at the end of the review”.