Tui Travel and Abta have defended allocated seating charges after a complaint by a couple travelling on their honeymoon made national headlines.

The Daily Mail reported that consumer Rosa De Filippo was told she would have to pay an extra £7.50 per seat to sit next to her fiance on a flight after discovering they were sitting separately.

She discovered the surcharge after booking a Thomson package holiday to Sicily and viewing her pre-assigned seats online which were separated by an aisle.

Abta said such charges were not unusual in the aviation industry with many airlines now offering allocated seating on the basis of a discretionary charge.

“Many airlines give the option of paying in advance for pre allocated seating which has proved popular with passengers avoiding the need to check in very early,” said an association spokesman. 

“You may well still sit together even if you have not used pre allocation but booking in advance removes a degree of uncertainty. Airlines will always ensure that families with small children sit close to each other.” 

A spokeswoman for Tui said: “Thomson Airways always tries to seat customers travelling together next to each other wherever possible.

“However, along with many other UK airlines, we offer a service whereby customers can pre-book specific seats. This service not only guarantees that customers can sit together, but also allows them to choose their preferred seats within the cabin.”

Other airlines who charge for advanced reserved seating include Aer Lingus which charges between £5 and £14, Thomas Cook which charges £5 for adults and £3 for children and WizzAir which charges £7 when booked online and £14 at the airport.