Understanding airfare classes of service and seat assignments

Today we are going to look at the different classes of service and how they relate to seat assignments. The three main classes of service are Coach, Business Class, and First Class. Since Business and First Class only have 1 type of seating, we are going to focus on Coach which can have many types of seating.

When you purchase a ticket you will be assigned a seat based on the type of ticket that is purchased. A regular ticket will get you a seat in certain rows. There are other rows that you can upgrade to. These seats are called premium seating and include rows of seats that, with most airlines, have wider seats and more legroom. Premium seating also includes the exit rows which, due to the fact that they have an exit door will also have substantially more legroom.

Premium seats will have an additional fee of $25-$40 depending on the airline and the seat.

At the other end of the spectrum a number of the major airlines have implemented low or budget fares at highly reduced rates called “Basic Economy”. These fares come with a number of restrictions. The main restrictions are, you don’t receive a seat assignment until you are at the gate, you board with the last group called for boarding, you cannot board with any carry on luggage but only 1 personal item that fits under your seat. You may check you bag at an additional fee. These discounted seats also do not receive any food or beverage service.

The disadvantage of these seats are that since you are last to receive seat assignments they will almost always be middle seats and it is almost impossible to book seats together. There is also the baggage fees to think about.

The best fits for these seats are business people who may be making a day trip and have no luggage.

I have seen “Basic Economy” Seats go for great fares, one I saw was phoenix to Dallas, one way, for $42 on certain days. Some I have seen were only $10 – $20 less than full fare. Remember fares can vary based on when you fly. This applies to all fares and classes of service.

You just need to be aware what type of ticket you are purchasing and what restrictions apply or what additional fees may be charged for the seat you want.