Gold and Platinum frequent flyers will no longer be able to enjoy the extra legroom of exit row seats free of charge.

Qantas has begun charging for these prized seats on all flights. This includes short domestic flights. All flyers will now need to pay the fee, which ranges from $20 to $180 per flight, including Gold and Platinum members. Only Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members will continue to be able to select exit row seats for free.

As you might expect, our members are furious about the changes. They feel that their loyalty to Qantas is being rewarded with a grab for cash.

At 193cm tall WP this is a material loss for me, and will influence my flying choices.

This is a really crappy downgrade to the perks of Gold. I wonder if they crunched the numbers and thought “relatively few passengers use this so it’s not a big deal” or “lots of Gold/Platinum folks use this, let’s make some money off them”. Either way, really disappointing.

Over the last few days, some members have even discovered that they have been kicked out of their previously-selected exit row seats.

Just checked a booking I have SYD/BNE in 10 days. I’ve been booted out of the exit rows I already had pre-selected. That’s piss poor!

None of the seat maps are available for my future bookings, so that doesn’t bode well.

Front row seats – row 4 on the Boeing 737, and row 23 on the A330 – will remain available free of charge. But they will only be made available from the time of booking to Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members. These seats do have some additional legroom.

Qantas already charged for exit row seats on trans-continental flights to Perth, as well as international flights. But the majority of domestic flights were previously excluded.

In May, Virgin Australia began offering complimentary extra-legroom seats – which previously had to be paid for – to its Platinum frequent flyers. Qantas has just done the exact opposite.

Only six weeks ago, VA used to charge their WP for exit row seating and now they get it for free. QF used to give their WP free exit row seating on the 738 and now they are going to charge them for the privilege. Things can change very quickly in the FF world and luckily I have backed the right ‘horse’ on this one…

While Qantas’ frequent flyers will lose out, the move could be beneficial for Qantas customers with no status. Previously, the exit row seats were not available to these customers at the time of booking. They will now be accessible, albeit for a fee.

I think it comes down to, that the majority (not majority spending) customers never get the opportunity to purchase or even get to choose the exit rows, as they are always taken by the high tier FFers and not shown on their seat map. Now everyone has the opportunity to select them. Yes it’s a downside for Gold and Platinum, but it’s a major benefit for non frequent flyers, bronze and silver ff’ers.

Join the discussion HERE.



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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]