Prefer an aisle or exit row seat? Now you’ll pay for it

Northwest Airlines sent a mass email yesterday touting a new “feature” that they’re testing: “Coach ChoiceSM Seating.” Here is how they describe it:

Northwest has begun saving some preferred seats (including aisle and exit row seats) in coach class until check-in, which is available 24 hours prior to departure. You can confirm these preferred seat assignments for only $15 per flight.

northwest airlinesCall me cynical, but hasn’t this product been avaiable already for free? Maybe this airline is trying to model itself after the bank—that most beloved institution that gave us the ATM, a customer convenience to be sure, but also a way for the bank to reduce its payroll and extort more fees at the same time.

The fine folks at Northwest Airlines must figure that if people want to stretch their legs out into the aisle, they ought to pay for the privilege. You know, if I didn’t have frequent flyer miles to use, I’d boycott Northwest right now. We can’t let them get away with this! Oh, my blood is boiling! The indignity of it all!

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5 Responses to Prefer an aisle or exit row seat? Now you’ll pay for it

  1. nicole says:

    Hi Karl…
    As a gal refusing to be contained, I simply cannot sit near the window or (GASP!) in the midddle of a three-seat row, so when I heard on NPR this morning this exact piece of news you posted, I wondered if I was to resign myself to a flight of clausterphobic episodes, as I refuse to pay extra for ANYTHING (unless it’s really cute and it matches!)

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Karl! Well, as I don’t fly very often this doesn’t really affect me. However, i do find it as ridiculous as having to pay to get copies of a check from your bank. Or how about when your check bounces because a check that someone wrote you is bad and the bank charges YOU for both problems. Oy! the injustice. A few years ago I said I wouldn’t fly except 1st class due to the impinging seats in front of me. Hmmm…1st class for quadruple the price or 15 extra for an aisle seat. Actually, it used to be if you were a Fireman you could request that Emergency exit seat because of the ability to help in an emergency- so much for that! 15.00 extra to take the “responsibility” for helping your fellow fliers in an emergency. We shall see. Chris

  3. Dennis says:

    Alas, Northwest is not alone. United recently began selling access to its “Economy Plus” section and one can surmise that it will soon be necessary to pay extra for aisle/exit seating as well.

  4. Laura says:

    I’m not surprised. American used to be my favorite airline because they had more leg room in coach, but that didn’t last long before they decided it wasn’t worth it and put the seats back. I would encourage travelers to try Southwest. They use the tried and true, always seem fair, 1st come-1st served policy for seating. If you’re able to print your boarding pass 24 hours before your flight you’ll receive an A section which enables you to get in line in the A row at the airport. Those less industrious passengers who failed to get on-line will have to wait in the B or C row. Just seems very fair and democratic, doesn’t it. The other bonus of flying Southwest is the humorous bent the flight attendants use in their announcements; even the food is more generous than that served on the larger airlines like American, although there isn’t a healthy item in the box. At least the quantity’s there! Finally, I’ve found the fares are always cheaper than other airlines.

  5. Johnster says:

    I am a brit living in bahrain (a small, very safe and friendly island in the Arabian Gulf. I recently took a Northwest flight from NY to Billings, Montana. I’m afraid to say I think you guys get a really raw deal on your aircraft. It wasn’t cheap, check-in was a tiresome procedure, the crew were miserable and you had to pay for food!! There is this concept that anything you want (eg a seat in the aisle, a sandwch) is charged extra extra extra. Maybe they’ll start charging per sheet of loo paper soon!!

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