Air India offering paid seat selection on US flights

Air India has been operating flights to the USA since forever. They currently operate direct flights between India and the US (Chicago, New York (JFK/Newark) and San Francisco). On a usual flight with Air India, all the preferred seats are blocked out, and even elites cannot select them for free, as compared to other carrier policies. This is a major uncompetitive step by them, but hey, this is Air India we are talking about.

Take this A321 operated flight for instance. Even as an elite, I am unable to select row 4, 9 or 22 which are the extra leg space seats. All along I’ve been told these are allocated at the airport, however, I never seem to get these seats at the airport, because someone else already has them.


I used to think this is a system limitation, but I guess it is not. Air India has recently started selling premium seats on their US bound long haul flights, for USD 50 per passenger. The following seats are earmarked for sale @ USD 50 per head when travelling from the US, or INR 3500 when travelling from India: Row 17, 18, 19, 27, 41 on the B77W and Row 17,18,19, 30 on the B77L



For reference, AI operates a B77L to SFO, and a B77W over to ORD, EWR and JFK. These seats are available for sale/pre-blocking up to 48 hours before flight time. To be able to pay for the service, one can either visit Air India’s airport or city reservation offices, or one can call Air India (India: 1800 180 1407, US: 1800 223 7776). Here is the page which details the other requirements.


If you are flying Air India, I think these are very reasonable prices for such long flights to get an extra leg room space. I’d also like to congratulate Air India for these moves where they are trying to monetize ancillary services.

But I also feel that Air India should be giving these to their elites at least for free. And I wonder what would happen to everyone who is travelling with an infant now. Would they be able to still get these seats for free, or they will have to pay to be able to be close to the Bassinet is anyone’s guess.

Would you guys pay to get these extra-leg room seats?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Why can’t they be booked and paid for online! Air India has this obsession with its “airport and city offices”. As if people have nothing else to do but go there to select a seat. Or call a call center for something that takes a few seconds online on other airlines.

    • Mr. Brightside

      It’s all about IT infrastructure. If a new services or feature is added then the IT Cell got activated and they start working on implementing new things asap. Companies like Citibank and other major service providers has their own developer team. So what they need is floated to their IT teams for implementation, so it doesn’t take a while (depend on complexity of implementation as well) to launch the service or feature.

      I also faced problem, when I had to Visit Air India booking office to buy an award ticket by buying remaining short miles. All other airlines provides this service online. I hope our new government, who has come with Digital India mission, will reform this IT system as well.

  2. Good Move by the our National carrier.. This is definitely add more revenue.. Also, There are many things Air India don’t do to maximize there profits and revenue. For eg. even at the time of code-share and now (actually months back) joined Star Alliance, I can’t still book tickets or they don’t create itinerary for connecting flights travel. For. They have four hubs in US, so they can cover other US states by working with United Airlines. Yep the things are not easy as it seems to but this is where they are loosing Business.. Every year many professionals and student Travel from India to US and Vice versa.. they have big untapped markets to work upon.

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