Now you're going to have a middle seat for sure

An internal memo at British Airways has been leaked, and it portends a gloomy next step for the major carriers.

As of Oct. 7, the airline confirmed to WalletPop, everyone flying on its jets will have to pay extra if they want a seat assignment before they get to the airport. Up to now, that's something that only the cut-rate carriers (like Spirit) have been doing in America.

As every regular traveler knows, the only seats left by the day of departure are usually the least desirable ones: the middle seats. This means that unless you want to be packed into the middle seat for that seven-hour transatlantic flight, you have to pony up. Those who scrimp now will be squeezed in later.

The charge is particularly heinous because of who's applying it. Americans already pay huge service fees on British Airways for the right to land in the United Kingdom. Often, the accumulated taxes and charges levied by the government there can equal the price of the transatlantic fare, particularly for flights to London. So this extra £20 (about $33) is something that Americans can not afford.

That fee is for the airline's patronizingly named "World Traveler" passengers, which means transatlantic economy. Within Europe, the charge is half that. And, as if you had to ask, it's each way.

The only people excluded from the charge are its executive members. Considering that British Airways' frequent flier benefits are unusually difficult to attain for an airline, you can probably forget about that route. And don't forget that just because the charge earns you the right to get your seat assignment, it doesn't guarantee you the seat type you want -- just the right to select before you get to the airport.

It's true that the former B.O.A.C, British Airways, is going through some rough air, financially speaking, but it's also true that in the airline industry, where one goes the rest soon follow.

The old-world airlines are not breaking the sound barrier anymore (or the mold for condescending public relations prattle, as BA claims the new fee is "to give customers more control over their seating options"), but they certainly are breaking new barriers in surcharges.

Unless you want to spend another $66 for your trip, it's elbows in.,feedConfig,entry&id=531197&pid=531196&uts=1253891400
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