Paying extra to sit with your family on a flight is a waste of money – unless you're flying Ryanair

Many of the UK's most popular airlines will generally automatically let families, couples and groups sit together, despite the fact that they also offer paid-for seat selection.

In a survey of 3,357 passengers, Which? found that 86 per cent of people who refused to pay an additional fee to choose their seats were seated with their loved ones anyway.

If Ryanair was excluded from the data, this figure rises to 90 per cent.

Of the ten most popular airlines in the UK, all of them – with the exception of Ryanair and Wizz Air – said that their policy was to allow families, couples and groups to sit together according to Which?.

It comes as six in ten passengers paid extra to choose seats because they were flying with children according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

While the CAA has guidelines that recommend airlines sit families with children together, carriers are currently not obligated to do this.

Some airlines have followed this advice, stating that children under 12 will always be seated together.

This means that even if families don't pay extra to choose their seats, they will end up sitting together.

But Ryanair and Wizz Air have slightly different policies.

According to Which?, while Ryanair denies deliberately splitting up families to boost its profits, the airline doesn't try to keep groups together either.

In fact, of the survey respondents who flew with Ryanair, only 46 per cent of people were seated with their loved ones if they didn't pre-select seats.

However, Ryanair does operate its own policies for seating families together.

The airline requires that children under 12 must be seated with an adult – and each adult is allocated up to four seats for children.

But in order to pick these seats, the adult in question must pay a mandatory four euro fee to reserve their seat first.

Wizz Air, meanwhile, will randomly allocate its seats, which could mean splitting up families with older children and groups.

However, in the case of children under 14, the airline says that their free random seat allocation will take the circumstances into account and sit the child with at least one accompanying adult.
Ryanair told Which? that it "fully complies with all EU safety regulations", while Wizz said "the safety of our passengers is always our number one priority".

Last year, Which? readers voted Ryanair the worst airline in the UK for the sixth year running.

However, the carrier said that thanks to its low prices, demand has never been higher.

And earlier this year, the airline has promised that it will improve its customer service.

Sun Online Travel has contacted Ryanair and Wizz Air for additional comment.

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