CAA Investigates Airline Seating Policies – Have Your Say!

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The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched an investigation into airline seating policies. The driver behind this is recent allegations that airlines (especially Ryanair) are deliberately splitting up families, groups and couples, unless they pay extra to select seats in advance.


Has this happened to you!?

The CAA wants to hear from you. You can submit your experience online here. This won’t be treated as a complaint, and you won’t get an individual response; but your submission will definitely help the CAA decide if there is substance to the rumours.

My Experience

Personally, I always pay in advance to select a seat (see Point 3 in my guide to making Economy travel more comfortable!) or use my elite status to select one for free. I am generally travelling with my partner and he is an anxious flyer. This means a prerequisite for stepping onto a plane is knowing where he will be sat – so no playing the Ryanair lottery for me!

On our recent flight to Alicante in January, along with experiencing the new cabin baggage policy, it was very clear others had played, and lost. As soon as the seatbelt sign was off, a significant number of people were blocking the aisle negotiating seat swaps to be near the rest of their party – almost all of them from middle seats near the back!


Certainly at InsideFlyer UK – whilst we have no concrete evidence – we have more than a slight suspicion that Ryanair (and potentially other airlines) is “punishing” those who don’t pay up by scattering them in middle seats across the plane.

I’d certainly like to see this formally investigated – to put this to bed once and for all. Whilst it might be a bit sneaky, I kind of don’t blame them. They are in the “up-sell” game and what do you expect when they’ll fly you to Spain for a fiver? They guarantee you a seat, nothing more – no guarantees on where that will be in the aircraft. It would just be nicer if they were honest up front the true “cost” of not paying for advance seat selection – it might even increase their revenues!

New Ryanair marketing slogan – “Pay for seat selection or we WILL put you in the middle at the back by the toilet” ??? 🙂


  1. Paul says

    Thanks for this.
    My comments about Jet2 and suspicion of their use of an algorithm have been submitted.
    Surely the mid-air scramble to sit next to friends/family is a safety issue. Personally I have never experienced this on Ryanair, though do try and avoid them, or Easyjet, who I fly with regularly and don’t seem to have this issue.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Interesting – I’m all too familiar with the Ryanair situation, but didn’t know Jet2 had joined in too!

  2. A K says

    Its disgraceful. The flight for £5 arguement also holds no water – sure, you might be able to book a flight for £5 on a tuesday night but when they charge 80 or something for the friday morning version and they still pull this sort of thing, its not acceptable and people justifying it cos of the supposed price of the flight is purpetuating the problem.

    If theyre so desperate to get people to pay £3 per flight for a seat, just add it to the cost of the ticket – but theyd rather keep the publicity that such poor customer service brings and being able to list flights from 4.99.

    People swapping seats on the flight we had caused them to have to stop the safety demonstration 3 times lol, hopefully it becomes such a problem in flight for them theyre forced to stop it.

    Glad I no longer have anything to do with jet2 if theyre also doing it.

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