I’m a Qantas Platinum flyer. I have been for nearly 4 years now I think and a Gold flier for several years before that – though I’m about to lose Platinum at the end of this year. After the move to Redmond I (thankfully) just don’t fly much anymore. Though this decision by (strangely my still favorite) airline, Qantas, just made me happier I made that decision.

I’ve mentioned a few times now that I’m a pretty tall person at 6ft 3”. For people that are tall, the economy seating gets really cramped so the extra room provided by exit row seating isn’t just a nice thing…its a necessary thing. So being a Platinum (and for Gold fliers too I believe), one of the perks was being able to call up the day before travelling a put in a request for the exit rows. Usually Qantas staff were kind enough to do this. And it was always appreciated.

This last trip back I called like I usually do. This time however they informed me that I would have to pay $160 or 20,000 points for something that had always been free to get. Qantas insisted that its a trend and lots of other airlines do this.

I got on the flight (see previous nicer and more complimentary post) and talked to staff on the flight about it. They told me its been an absolute debacle. They weren’t the only Qantas staffers talking about it. Ground staff have copped abuse over it and told me that lots of the top tier (read: paying literally thousands and thousands of dollars for flights yearly) frequent fliers have voiced their anger over this new policy.

Then I got to experience, first hand, the fury of a customer on the plane itself. On the way home, I managed to get a now coveted exit row seat. There was a few spare ones as the flight had spare seats and of course, you had to now pay money for these seats. So people, unaware of this new policy, started moving around the plane to get the best seats. People started to try to move in next to this couple near me in their exit seats. The couple called the customer service manager (CSM) and complained quite significantly about their frustration that they had to pay for the exits but now others were able to just come and sit in those seats for free.

Three times the CSM had to come and discuss the issue with them and I have to say was exceptionally professional and patient with the couple. And twice she had to ask the people that moved in to vacate the exit row. So the poor in flight staff seem to be copping the heat too.

So when I got home I thought Id check up on the claims that other airlines were charging for the exit rows.

Northwest – according to this blog, intends to charge $15 extra for selected aisles and exit seats

Air France – according to this blog will be charging about $63 for the exit seat.

Singapore Air – same deal.

So it turns out they are true and this same trend is occurring in other airlines. I wonder when at some point policies like this which make it tougher for taller people to get the room they need get called out as not just unfair but plain wrong.