ABTA Travel Convention logoA new charge for premium passengers to choose their seat has been more popular than expected, according to British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh.

Addressing a question from Travel Weekly agent reporter Neil Basnett at The Travel Convention in Malta today, Walsh said consumers would decide if the charge was fair.

BA offers all passengers the chance to check in online and choose their seat 24 hours ahead of departure but has started charging for any seat requests from premium cabin clients further out.

“This is a new product offering the ability for customers to book in advance if they choose to. They are not required to,” he said.

“We felt we were absolutely legitimate in charging a price for it and we have seen fantastic uptake.”

Walsh said he had seen no evidence that customers were switching to rival carriers that offer the service for free.

“The number of customers using the facility has significantly exceeded the numbers I thought would be interested in it,” claimed Walsh.