Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

British Airways to charge for seat selection

British Airways passengers will have to pay to choose their seats if they want to reserve them when they book, the airline said today.

The new charges will affect people who want to ensure they sit together on a flight and anyone with a preference for window, aisle or emergency exit seats.

Currently, BA allows passengers to reserve seats free of charge in the 24 hours prior to departure, but from October 7 those willing to pay will be able to secure their preferred spot in the cabin when they make a booking.

BA said the move would "give customers more control over their seating options".

For an economy class trip within Europe, passengers will pay an extra £10 per person to choose a seat.

On long-haul economy or short flights in business class the charge will be £20, and £60 in business class on long-haul voyages.

A seat in an emergency exit row will cost £50 and can be booked between 10 and four days before take-off.

A BA spokeswoman said: "From October 7 2009, British Airways is launching a new service to give customers more control over their seating options.

"Customers will now be able to select their seats when booking and secure exit row seats for a fee.

"Customers frequently request specific seats, but in the past we've only been able to confirm them 24 hours in advance or on the day.

"We know people want to secure them in advance and have real control over their flying experience. This will allow them to do that."

The introduction of the levy comes as BA attempts to bolster its balance sheet after a £401 million loss in the last financial year.

It follows the airline's decision to cut luggage allowances and abolish free meals on short flights.