easyJet is to trial allocated seating on certain routes, starting this Spring.
Passengers will be able to pre-reserve any seat on the aircraft for a surcharge, with demand expected for front row seats and seats with extra leg room over the wing exit rows, the airline said.
easyJet doesn’t currently reserve seats, but allows customers who have paid extra for ‘Speedy Boarding’ to board first and choose their preferred seating.
The remaining passengers board by group with free for all seating.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s CEO said allocated seating would be rolled out across all flights by the end of 2012 “only if it works from a revenue perspective and increases passenger satisfaction.”
No routes have been announced yet for the trial, which will allow customers to choose their seat at the time of booking, for a fee that it has yet to disclose.
The airline says passengers travelling on certain seats and Flexi Fares, as well as easyJet Plus cardholders will still be able to use ‘Speedy Boarding’ and have a choice of seats, presumably after passengers have taken their allocated seats.
The news comes as Ryanair recently extended its reserved seating trial on 80 routes.
easyJet and Ryanair – in their pursuit to boost average fares and lure business travellers – have evolved into a new breed of ‘hybrid’ carriers.
Both airlines continue to mix up some aspects of the low-cost airline model with services offered by traditional or ‘full-service’ carriers.
In June, easyJet began selling ‘flexible’ fares for the first time, in a bid to attract business travellers.
The Flexi fares are designed to cater for business travellers looking to ‘trade down’ in a more difficult economic climate, yet still retain perks.
There are no booking fees and the fare includes speedy boarding and one piece of hold baggage, but can come at a premium.
A boost in the number of business travellers helped easyJet to report increased annual profits on Tuesday – despite rising fuel costs.
The airline announced a pre-tax profit of £248m for the year to 30 September, up from a profit of £154m in 2010.
The jump in profit was led by a 11.8% increase in passenger numbers, with one million more passengers using the airline for business travel.
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