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I booked round-trip ticket from Zurich to HongKong via Priceline, which goes one way with Lufthansa and other way with Swiss air. Priceline didn't give me an option to select seats at the time of booking. The tickets are booked in K class. Now I went to Lufthansa and swiss air flight and realize that seat reservation would cost USD 35 each. Is this normal? or am I being penalized for booking through priceline. I couldn't get the same itinerary (or maybe at the same price) while booking through Lufthansa / swissair flights, and hence I booked it via priceline.

I have never paid for "seat reservation" fee while booking through United, American or Delta even in economy class. Am I missing something? or is it a norm among European airlines?

  • This has become increasingly common on short-haul flights in Europe, yes, with legacy carriers emulating low-cost airlines in this respect. But I didn't know Lufthansa or Swiss were doing it, certainly not on long-haul flights, and usually there are cheaper seats available, 35 USD sounds like the price of a “premium seat” (exit row or first row with more leg space). Maybe someone else will have more to say about that. – Relaxed Aug 17 '17 at 15:06
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For Lufthansa, yes, this is normal, and it isn't related to booking through Priceline. I encountered this same fee on a Lufthansa flight I took a few months ago, which was booked directly on the airline's website.

Note that this fee is optional. If you don't pay it, you will still be able to choose your own seats when you check in, starting 23 hours before departure. Of course, you will not have as many choices.

This is all explained on the Lufthansa website. See also Does Lufthansa allow you to choose seats for free during checking-in online? on this site.

I am not sure whether SWISS is the same. They are owned by the Lufthansa Group so I would not be surprised if they have a similar policy.

  • Thanks, Nate. Answers my question. I will check Swiss Air again. I am flying FRA to HKG in A380. Whats the likelihood of getting window/aisle seat if I check-in 23 hrs before? Just curious. – tallharish Aug 18 '17 at 8:11
  • @tallharish: I have no idea, sorry. – Nate Eldredge Aug 18 '17 at 16:16
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It is generally a norm among low-cost company airlines, ticket price is low but the seat choice is extra (as well as food).

You can choose your seat for USD 35 (probably even more for extra leg room, or windows seat), or let the company automatically choose one for you.

They will automatically select one for you when you check-in.

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Notice that if you check-in really early, you will have the "crappiest" ones, as they keep the best ones (meaning 1A) for the end, in case someone choose to pay for it.

  • However, Lufthansa and SWISS are not low-cost airlines, and in fact this isn't an accurate description of Lufthansa's policies. See my answer. – Nate Eldredge Aug 17 '17 at 15:21

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