Qantas charges big for Exit Row seating

I’m a Qantas Platinum flyer. I have been for nearly 4 years now I think and a Gold flier for several years before that – though I’m about to lose Platinum at the end of this year. After the move to Redmond I (thankfully) just don’t fly much anymore. Though this decision by (strangely my still favorite) airline, Qantas, just made me happier I made that decision.

I’ve mentioned a few times now that I’m a pretty tall person at 6ft 3”. For people that are tall, the economy seating gets really cramped so the extra room provided by exit row seating isn’t just a nice thing…its a necessary thing. So being a Platinum (and for Gold fliers too I believe), one of the perks was being able to call up the day before travelling a put in a request for the exit rows. Usually Qantas staff were kind enough to do this. And it was always appreciated.

This last trip back I called like I usually do. This time however they informed me that I would have to pay $160 or 20,000 points for something that had always been free to get. Qantas insisted that its a trend and lots of other airlines do this.

I got on the flight (see previous nicer and more complimentary post) and talked to staff on the flight about it. They told me its been an absolute debacle. They weren’t the only Qantas staffers talking about it. Ground staff have copped abuse over it and told me that lots of the top tier (read: paying literally thousands and thousands of dollars for flights yearly) frequent fliers have voiced their anger over this new policy.

Then I got to experience, first hand, the fury of a customer on the plane itself. On the way home, I managed to get a now coveted exit row seat. There was a few spare ones as the flight had spare seats and of course, you had to now pay money for these seats. So people, unaware of this new policy, started moving around the plane to get the best seats. People started to try to move in next to this couple near me in their exit seats. The couple called the customer service manager (CSM) and complained quite significantly about their frustration that they had to pay for the exits but now others were able to just come and sit in those seats for free.

Three times the CSM had to come and discuss the issue with them and I have to say was exceptionally professional and patient with the couple. And twice she had to ask the people that moved in to vacate the exit row. So the poor in flight staff seem to be copping the heat too.

So when I got home I thought Id check up on the claims that other airlines were charging for the exit rows.

Northwest – according to this blog, intends to charge $15 extra for selected aisles and exit seats

Air France – according to this blog will be charging about $63 for the exit seat.

Singapore Air – same deal.

So it turns out they are true and this same trend is occurring in other airlines. I wonder when at some point policies like this which make it tougher for taller people to get the room they need get called out as not just unfair but plain wrong.

Comments (9)

  1. spedw0 – now youre talking about one of my biggest bugbears. Small people in the exit rows that clearly dont need the additional space. And all the while some tall guy or girl remains cramped in a tiny seat.

    Qantas did say thats part of the problem they are trying to solve. By making people pay – everyone including top tier passengers – they remove the problem and even the shorter (normal?) people have to comply with the safety requirements too. I would suggest it doesnt do anything of the kind. A dollar is a dollar, whether from a tall person or a normal height person. Thats what its really about.

  2. Kyle – so youre saying if you and the other guy weren’t there. Then there wouldnt have been anyone at all to assist in the event of an emergency? Nice…

  3. You’d wanna hope so right Mick? 🙂

  4. Kyle Rosenthal says:

    Funny thing – I flew Brisbane to LA today – and at the checkin asked if there was an exit row available. The checkin person looked and said – no – all gone – becuase people can buy the exit row now. I had read about it – but fogotten about it.

    So instead I was the row behind the exit row – and then when the doors closed – there was only one person in the exit – so I nabbed the aisle once the seatbelt sign went out.

    Turns out the guy that was in the row was the brother of a Qantas staffer who was also flying and he basically was allocated the seat last minute – so if he had not been there then there would have been no one in the exit row.

    I like you am a regular flyer – Gold for the last 4 years – not quite made Platnium each year. I also am a little tall – not quite Kleefy size but taller than most. So yep – I was a little annoyed to observe that there was no offering to be able to take the exit row at checkin. I look at the prepayment to get the exit row kinda like giving you the guarantee you get it – not that no one else can get it.



  5. Mick says:

    So… God forbid, you actually had an emergency and you were required to open the emergency exit, do you get a refund??

  6. spedw0 says:

    What happened to the legislative requirements that people in the exit row seat had to be physically able to open the emergency door???

    The number of times I’ve missed an exit row seat (6’2" myself) only to see it them all filled with very short diminutive people who could not possibly man-handle the emergency door as required on some aircraft models.

  7. spedw0 says:

    Exactly!!  They are not going to know when the person books what their physical capability is.  The airline has already accepted the money, so they now have to provide the "service".

    Can you see them going: "You can’t handle the emergency door, so you can’t sit in that row, here’s your money back"??  I DON’T think so! 🙂

    It basically amounts to a "tall tax".  Isn’t that discrimination?

  8. Kyle Rosenthal says:

    Kleefy – thats right – the exit row would have been empty.

    I did realise after writing that as well that Virgin Blue have been charging for this for a while in AU for domestic flights.

    Less than 90 minutes $25 AUD

    90 – 180 minutes $35 AUD

    More than 180 minutes $45 AUD



  9. mike says:


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