Virgin Atlantic and their £25 seat charge

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Virgin seat surcharge

Virgin Atlantic, I like you.  I really do.  In fact I even wrote a blog post about you praising your customer service when a flight with you was cancelled a few years ago.  I didn’t “kick off” despite losing a day of our holiday.  Paying for a day of hire car we didn’t need.   Yes, we could have claimed on our insurance but we decided that in the grand scheme of things we wouldn’t bother.   We could have pursued you under whatever that legislation is that allows people to get compensation for delayed flights.   Given there were five of us, booked on transatlantic flight and we were delayed for 24 hours at Gatwick we would have been entitled to the thick end of £400 each apparently.   Yes, you put us up (hence my blog post about you, but let’s face it, Gatwick is not Barbados, is it?).

We could have sworn to never fly with you again.  After all, BA do the same route for the same price.    We aren’t like that though.

However, we might be now.

This week you have really pushed me to the point of “that’s it, never again” .   Except it means we would never fly again as you are not alone in this policy.   A policy that I can only describe as actual day light robbery that is in place for no other reason than to fleece your customers.   As Easyet, Ryanair etc have been doing for years.  I can sort of stomach it with a budget airline when I am only paying £35 for a flight, but you?  Not so much.

Let me explain, dear reader.   We have booked a holiday, last minute.    We are off to Barbados to stay in my parents villa.  We can’t afford this holiday but we have decided that for our sanity we need to get away.   I cannot tell you how badly we need to get away from it all.   Don’t get me wrong, I know we are very very lucky.  That many people can’t afford any such holiday.  I do know that, and believe me, I don’t take our good fortune for granted.     We have worked damned hard and are rewarding ourselves with two weeks away.   The flights alone for four of us are close to £4000.

Yep, four grand for just flights.    I know.  It’s a huge amount of money for a holiday.   We are on a tight budget and when there, we will not going out for posh dinners or having the sort of holiday you expect people to have when in Barbados.  We will be lying on a beach and eating fish from the local market and it will be perfect.   We have even begged Caity to house sit and look after the dog so we don’t have to pay £400 for kennels.

Which is why I am now pissed off, yes readers, an actual swear, that Virgin Atlantic want to charge us £25 EACH to allocate seats so we can sit next to each other.    One hundred quid, each way to make sure we can sit beside our family.

I am sorry but that stinks.

I don’t want to sit next to other people on the flight.   Well I don’t mean I don’t want to sit next to other people, I am not a princess, what I mean is that I want to sit next my family.   We are about to spent two weeks together and on the flight I want to share excitement and chatter about what we might get up to with my family.   On the return I want to reminisce about our trip.  Compare “Ooh which film are you watching” stories.    Say cheers over a drink.    I don’t want to be next to another family that have, presumably, been separated from their family members.  I don’t want be on a return night flight, sleeping next to somebody who might need the loo every ten minutes.   I know my family don’t do that.  They know we get off the flight and I am going straight to work, they will do their utmost to let me sleep.  Uncle Tom Cobbly wont give two hoots about that, and nor should he, it is not his problem.

What difference is it making for people on one booking to be seated next to the other people on the booking?  None.   It is the same number of people on the flight.    But you are just splitting people up because you can.   And charging them for the privilege of wanting to know they can sit together.    I don’t want my kids split up and thirty rows away from me.    I don’t want my 16 year old daughter sitting next to men I don’t know.

This policy is ridiculous.   In fact, here’s another swear.  It’s bollocks.   It is simply there to get more money out of people.   It adds £200 to the cost of our flights.   Yeah, because £4000 isn’t enough already is it?

Yours spectacularly pissed off from Fleet

Photo of plane seats courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • Ouch! That is scandalous. Since when is that ‘policy’?
    Fully justified rant………….I hope they recant!
    They should.

    • isnt it? Apparently it doesnt apply in Premium econonmy or Upper Class but does in economy. On a night flight potentially sleeping next to somebody else. I don’t think so!

  • They should really be ashamed of themselves. Was there any indication of this extra cost at the time the flights were booked? I think I might be able to guess the answer to this question.

    I agree with the tone of your comments. Don’t always but am 100% behind you on this. in my opinion it puts “Virgin” in the category of Rogue Traders as identified and shamed on the BBC’s Watchdog programme.
    Would there be anything to dissuade you from presenting the case to the fragrant Ann Robinson?
    Or the airline ombudsman? – if there is one. Or the Min. of Civil Aviation?

    As a LAST resort what about the Daily Mail?

    • I really am tempted to make a stand on this one. Their defence will be “well you can choose seats without having to pay 24 hours before the flight” well that is fine if you have a computer, internet access and a printer. Luckily we do but many going to hotels won’t. And 400+ all trying to get seats 24 hours before will surely mean that we won’t get seats together. So we either risk it, or we swallow it and fork out the money.

      It makes me very grumpy. And Virgin are not alone, Easyjet and Ryanair have all been doing it for years. I suspect BA are probably doing the same.

  • Ooooh now that makes my blood boil! Stick another hundred quid on the actual flight if you’re not making enough money – don’t penalise people for wanting to sit with their family! Unbelievably crap.

    But good that you’re getting away – you need a break and you will have the most wonderful time x

    • Thanks Helen. They could split the difference and add a tenner to each flight and let’s call it quits. Same with booking fees on concert tickets. £1.75 per ticket?! No, just add £1 to the cost of the ticket.

      But yes, as you say, great to be able to get away

  • This really makes me cross. My husband took our 3 year old skiing for the first time this year. They flew with Jet2 and it was full adult fare of around £400 for both of them. They then wanted extra to sit them together. He almost called their bluff but paid it to be on the safe side. I’ve since heard horror stories of small children being seated at the other end of the plane from their parents so I’m glad he did. The child protection issues alone are mind boggling. Also, can you imagine the chaos an unaccompanied small child could cause?

    I can almost feel a campaign coming on!

  • I would pay good money not to sit with my five and three year old on a flight. I’ve flown to Australia with them so many times that I guarantee the rest of the passengers would chip in to pay for us to be seated together. It is so ridiculous I would definitely call their bluff & see what happened. It’s in the airlines interest to have them sitting with me… But not mine! I’d love to be able to watch a movie in peace. I would play them at their own game & see how quickly they caved! X

  • Things like this make me so cross….the price of flights alone is bad enough to swallow! Have a great holiday x

  • that is disgusting. i fly Emirates everywhere, they allow me to choose my seat when I book, although I travel alone I like to sit next to the window as I don’t get up during a flight and I don’t want to be disturb if I’m sleeping

  • I agree wholeheartedly with you its ridiculous I did a blog post comparing the prices of virgin holidays to others companies earlier this year and the difference is immense we saved well over £1000 for the same holiday actually it was probably more as we got 20% on our deal also, we also got our seats together without paying the extra, maybe because I complained and there’s no way that our son can sit with just one parent x

    • oooh that’s really good advice. We are only booking flights and it’s VIrgin or BA and they are both doing it so we are stuck. It is so frustrating, isnt it? And as you sa, when your little man wants to be with both of you so the whole policy is shameful.

      • particularly if a member of the party has a disability but they don’t want to tell the world, maybe they suffer from panic attacks and needs to be next to those they feel safe again they don’t need the world to know, scared of flying there are so many reasons its just not good enough, I would quite happily sit away for a few hrs peace but it wouldn’t work like that and then others would get stressed and angry having a child running or shouting between parents even without a disability it’s wrong, its unjustifiable for many x

        • This.

          Exactly that Angie.

          Nobody has thought this through at all and it’s all very well them saying “you can assign a seat 24 hours before for free” What happens if you can’t by that point or if you have left home by that point and are en route to overnight in a hotel with no wifi etc.

          Grrrr the whole thing is making me fume.

  • Flying to florida next july and just heard about this badly thought out and crazy policy .I’ve paid over ..£3000 pounds for these flights and I can’t sit with my family ?????? R U SERIOUS ??? I’m not letting my 13 year old daughter sit with strangers and they’re not getting any more money off me ……..unbelievable

    • isnt it>!!!! I am so with you on that one. It is just ludicrous. I dont even know how they can allow it since in an emergency it means a complete stranger is in charge of our children’s oxygen masks.

  • I totally agree. It’s sneaky too. My sister and I only booked our Holiday in Tobago a week ago for February 17 and we certainly were not told that there would be a charge to reserve our seats in advance, and only found out when we tried to reserve thisevening, and were asked to pay £30 each, NOT £25 ! We didn’t bother but I will be furious if we can’t sit together.