Emirates To Charge For Seat Assignments

Emirates Airlines, well known for their opulent decor and unwavering use of A380 aircraft. It is also the only Middle Eastern airline that analysts say may be turning a profit. Other Gulf carriers are government subsidized and mainly exist to drive traffic to the country; Qatar and Etihad are good examples. Well Emirates looks to be pushing to increase their profit margins.

Emirates will soon begin to charge for seat assignments. When I say soon, I mean October 3rd, so you have a week or so to get in before this charge is put into place. I've only ever experienced this type of service charge on Qantas when I flew to Australia at the end of 2014. At the time I had not yet jumped on the points and miles train, so my seat was coach, and I didn't want a crappy seat on a 15+ hr flight. While I resisted paying at first, I did come around to paying for my seats so I wasn't stuck in a middle seat regretting my life choices.

On Qantas, the charge was something on the order of $25 per segment... hence why I hesitated.

Emirates seems to be one upping Qantas in this arena. An adult seat will cost 50AED or roughly $14 for a short haul flight. Medium haul flights will be 100AED or roughly on par with Qantas at a little over $27. Those long haul flights will slam you though at 150AED or about $40. If you're in business or first class, don't worry at all, these fees will not apply to you.

Can you imagine paying over $1000 for a flight and then being told you still owe them another $40 per person to choose a seat? 

I think this is a dangerous precedent to set. While this will certainly bring in additional revenue, these types of actions are what super low cost airlines do. The only reason it works so well for them is that the initial fare is so low in the first place. For a major airline like Emirates, this may start to push people toward other carriers and in particular low cost carriers.

The more services that are charged for, the more these airlines start to seem like low cost carriers, except that the fare price is not low cost. In those cases, the low cost carriers initial fare will begin to look preferable to the high cost of a carrier like Emirates.