4 ways to avoid the new Emirates seat charges

By Eat Drink Stay Dubai / September 20, 2016
Avoid Emirates seat charges - without flying Business Class

4 ways to avoid the new Emirates seat charges

Emirates seat charges – Emirates have announced that from 3rd October 2016, they will start charging additional fees to reserve an Economy seat in advance.

This seems to be latest in Emirates looking to find differing ways to bring in revenue, such as considering Premium Economy and prioritising operational upgrades by fare type rather than loyalty.

Avoid Emirates seat charges - without going Business Class

Avoid Emirates seat charges – without flying Business Class

Emirates seat charges: The details

The full announcement can be read here, and also Emirates CEO Tim Clark recently spoke with Skift on the next generation of fees , but the basic facts are:-

  • Advance seat reservation charges will stand at time of booking for economy Saver or Special fares.
  • Charge will depend on duration of flight* (short/medium/long), which will cost 50,100 or 150 AED accordingly.
  • Charge is not applicable once online check-in is open (i.e. 48 hours before flight departure).
  • Children under two and accompanying passengers on the same booking are exempt from the charge.

* Short Haul: Dh50 between Dubai and GCC countries, Middle Eastern countries, Indian Ocean

Medium Haul: Dh100 between Dubai and Europe, Africa and East Asia

Long Haul: Dh150 between Dubai and Americas and Australasia

5th Freedom (Short and Medium Haul): Dh50 or Dh100 when Emirates flies between two foreign countries.

Avoid Emirates seat charges #1 : Avoid

At the risk of sounding obvious, but why are you using Emirates anyway?

There are much cheaper options for flying, with better loyalty options and better customer service.

From Dubai, Qatar Airways regularly offer amazing deals – especially in Business Class with their two for one/partner offers – on an arguably better service. Add into the equation Oneworld partner benefits, a far more user-friendly airline loyalty program and more flexibility on award/redemption flights/upgrades. For most people, the downside of transitting at Doha is far offset by the many positives.

Etihad also offer similar compelling reasons, and also with their auctions for upgrades to Business Class becoming more competitive they could soon take up the slack from Emirates. Some people may not like the transit time and cost, but it’s only an hour or so with Uber or even on the coaches to Dubai for a fare better airline in my opinion.

Avoid Emirates seat charges #2: Invest

If you are not a price-sensitive passenger, consider purchasing a higher fare code such as Flex or Flex Plus. You will get more benefits (refunds, changes etc.) plus you will get more value on earning Skywards miles, which may help you for future award flights/upgrades.

Also consider looking at Premium Economy whenever Emirates choosing to launch, which could be as early as 2017.

Avoid Emirates seat charges #3: Take a chance

If you are a lone traveller, are dead set against paying the fee, or just fancy trying your luck, why not wait until online check-in opens? Okay, you may not get the seat you fancy, but you will save a little bit of money.

However, do you really want to risk it, given Emirates tend to book up seats quickly so waiting until 48 hours before take off may not leave many seats free?

Avoid Emirates seat charges #4: Be Loyal

Although Emirates are really cutting down on the benefits of being loyal, there are still advantages to being an Emirates Skywards member. In addition to check-in, lounge access, some luggage benefits etc. Silver and Gold Skywards members will not have the charge levied for advance seat reservation.


Will you still be flying Emirates, or not? What's your strategy for avoiding the seat reservation charges?

Do let us know using the comments below - we'd love to hear from you!


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3 years ago

Interesting and useful post. You’ve got your finger on the pulse of things. I felt like I was almost reading my own thoughts when you spelt out the options for choice of airlines in the region. I too am going through a bit of a transition. Formerly a very loyal skywards member (since 2000), I now find myself re-investing my airtime (pun intended) between the ‘underdogs’ if you will. Silver (and growing) on Qatar and Gold on Etihad, I have an incredibly complex choice for avoiding EK flights out of DXB, while focusing on airfare (for personal/non-official flights) that aren’t… Read more »

Zohare Haider
3 years ago

Thanks for your reply and appreciation. I really want to try Etihad more often (spoiler alert: I’m gold there too) but have a hard time justifying the extra travel time to AD for early flights. Qatar is in my opinion the best value for money and as long as I’m on a plane from DXB, I don’t care much about stopping in Doha – journey begins when I’m onboard and asap is better. Plus they are halfway between EY and EK on plane choice (777 is my preferred jet) and inflight service – food mainly (unless it’s business, in which… Read more »

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