Virgin: "no plans" to follow BA on seat charges

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British Airways (BA) is to introduce a new service which will allow customers paying a fee to reserve seating more than 24 hours in advance of their flight, but rival Virgin does not intend to respond with new seat charges.

Passengers will still be able to choose seats for free up to a day prior to take-off. However, those seeking reservations further in advance will be charged £10 ($14.65) per person, per sector, on short-haul flights, or £20 for a normal seat and £50 for an exit-row allocation on long-haul flights.

The service launches on October 7. BA terms it "an extra option for passengers" who were previously unable to book seats more than 24 hours in advance.

UK rival Virgin Atlantic charges customers - as BA will - £50 to reserve exit rows, but says that its passengers can reserve normal seats up to 11 months in advance for free.

"We have no plans to introduce charges [on normal seats]," says a spokeswoman for Virgin.

British Airways says it has no projections for passenger take-up of paid seat reservations, nor has it estimated how much the new revenue stream will yield.