The Basics

Is It Tacky to Charge Business Class Passengers For Selecting Certain Seats?

charge for business class
Written by Charlie

Is it tacky for an airline to charge business class customers even more money to select certain seats? At least one airline doesn’t think so!

Earlier this year, I had read that Swiss had decided to start charging for certain, more private business class seats on their airplanes. Those seats, and other blocked seats, would remain free for Miles & More Senator and HON Circle elite members. Is it tacky to charge business class passengers to select some seats?

Is It Tacky To Charge Business Class Passengers for Selecting Certain Seats?

Link: Swiss Privacy Seat Options

Swiss Charges More for Privacy

Privacy seat Airbus 330 | From SWISS

Swiss is certainly not the first to do this. British Airways has done this as well, though I think we would more expect British to do something like that. I would not normally expect a carrier like Swiss to charge for this, certainly not for business class customers.

I recently booked my first Swiss business class ticket and was reminded of this when I went to select my seats. I had wanted to try Swiss before but other airlines had better options for my travels. It was the same this time, but I decided to finally just book and fly Swiss to give it a try.

Let me say first – I understand that, as an award ticket passenger, some may think that it is a little much to think that an airline should not charge award ticketed passengers for something like this. After all, other carriers have stripped certain benefits and perks from mileage ticket holders in favor of preserving the value for paid ticket customers.

Pay $200+ To Select a Certain Business Class Seat!

But, I am asking this for all passengers. Imagine you paid over $4,000 for that same ticket I am flying on – and then you find that you need to pay another $200+ to get a more private seat in business class?

Yet that is exactly what Swiss does. Here is how they describe this add-on: “For an even more exclusive travel experience, we give you the opportunity to reserve the most sought-after Privacy Seats in SWISS Business for all long-haul flights before take-off. Privacy Seats are individual seats that offer a higher level of privacy.

For business class seats, the cost is from about $99 – $199, depending on the length of the flight (it is supposed to be 199 Swiss francs which is just about $199 but I was actually going to be charged in Euros so $220!).

charge business class

The blue shaded seats are the extra priced privacy seats

That’s right, after paying $4,000+ for a business class seat, if you decide you want one with more privacy (so a throne-like seat without having a seatmate), you will need to pay – up to $200+! It is similar to the seats on Austrian and they do not charge that!

The problem is, I really want one of those seats! 🙂 But, not enough to pay $220 for it! So, I will just wait to see what happens as time gets closer. In the meantime, I have selected a seat that, currently, does not have a seat mate.

I understand that there is demand and Swiss wants to keep their elites happy, but maybe block out some of the seats for elites if that is what they want instead of charging everyone else for every single one of those seats.

Is it tacky for an airline to charge for certain business class seats or is it a good business decision?

Featured image courtesy of SWISS

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • IMHO I don’t think it’s tacky. I think it makes perfect sense. I don’t like it, but I do see their point of view on monetizing a desirable seat

  • I got in on the super cheap J fares on BA a few years ago to Italy. After using 30k Avios to deduct $765 off the fare i paid around $600. I had no status at the time and ended up paying $125 for upper deck seats to make sure we were together and on the upper deck. All J seats aren’t alike so while i find it tacky, I understand it. Of course, if I was paying $4,000+ I’d probably not choose BA unless it was the only non-stop.

    I think for Swiss specifically, if they didn’t offer them for cash they’d probably just outright block them for Senators & HON members. So while dropping $200 extra blows, at least if having those seats is important to you you have the option.

  • Welcome to the world, where economy is since years.
    If you want to secure yourself a special seat, feel free to pay for it.
    If you do not like paying it, look for competition not doing it.

  • Tacky or whatever – it certainly affects my choice of airlines. I’ll do a lot to avoid BA business class.

  • If I understand correctly, you’re able to advance-select your business class seat, just not the “primo” more private one. I believe that’s absolutely fair. Similar to the “preferred seats” in economy.

    BA’s program is much worse. You can’t select your biz seat in advance without paying the fee. So, unless you’re elite, they can assign you anywhere and you have no choice at all.

    • Yes, you are correct. I mean, I still get to select a seat – in business class! Just curious what others think about selecting seats that are better suited for people traveling alone.
      I know, I got stuck with that on BA many times! It does not help when you are auto-assigned some of the worst business class seats also (#firstworldproblems, I know!).

  • This really made me angry about BA. I don’t mind the award fees as much as others, just look at it as getting business for the cost of coach. However, adding the fee for seat selection was almost a deal breaker. If another carrier starts flying direct to Europe from my home airport, I’m moving on. I don’t see why they get away with this, since they are widely considered to have an inferior business class.

    Contrast that with a RT business award to Bangkok on ANA & Thai for less than $80 in fees and I could choose any seat I wanted on all 4 flights.

  • I go out of my way to avoid airlines where I have to pay extra to book my seat. Would never fly BA biz for many reasons but the risk of being in the middle of their cramped quarters is one. The Swiss throne seat is ok but a bit tight, if ask me. I no longer select long distance Lufthansa economy now that they want to charge even high fare customers to select a seat. Fair enough of a discount economy but on an H class, highly insulting.

  • For all the hatred normally directed to Delta I’ve never had to pay a fee to select any seat in Business (Domestic or International) when using points or a certificate.