Fight for your right to a free, guaranteed seat. I keep getting asked to pay for my seat, especially when I shouldn’t have to.
To be clear, I’m talking about the when no free seats are left on the plane, not when I have to pay to reserve my seat in advance (which is just as crappy and infuriating). I ran into this situation this morning when booking a last-minute ticket to Texas for my father. Things were going beautifully without a hitch until I had to figure out where to place him. All the free seats were completely occupied and there were no seats left... unless you wanted to pony up an extra $28 for extra legroom. Seriously?
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I worry it misleads people into thinking that paying for a premium seat is the only option. It should be clear to everyone that you don’t need to shell out money for a “premium” seat just to be guaranteed a seat. In this scenario, what you should do is to continue without a seat assignment. This doesn’t mean you’ll be seatless; it just means that you’ll get your seat later when you check-in. As long as your itinerary is ticketed, they have to give you a seat.
Like North American airlines weren’t bad enough (Air Canada and American Airlines, I may or may not be mentioning you specifically), there seems to be a group of foreign airlines that seem to be jumping disturbingly on the a la carte seating trend as well. If not pay for a premium seat, why not pay to actually pick it? I get that times may be tough, but then there's just being ridiculous.
According to Business Traveller, Lufthansa will also start soon charging extra for advance seat selection, rumored at somewhere between €5 and €15, depending on the length of the flight. British Airways already charges for advance seat selection. Music to my ears.
There is basically no difference between a budget and legacy airline anymore.