NWA's Elite Customers Won't Pay $15 Fee

Elite members of Northwest Airline Corp.'s frequent-flier program won't have to pay an extra $15 to get an aisle or exit-row seat in coach class anymore. The change was made in response to customer response.

Last month, Northwest began its "Coach Choice" program that asked passengers on most domestic flights to pay a $15 fee for certain prime seats in coach - exit-row seats or aisle seats near the front of the cabin. The program included about 5 percent of seats on domestic flights.

In an e-mail sent Tuesday to elite WorldPerks members, those flying at least 25,000 miles a year, Northwest said its most frequent travelers would be exempt from the fees.

The carrier also said the seats chosen for the Coach Choice program will be adjusted, with some of them returning to a separate seating zone automatically reserved for elite fliers.

"From the outset, we said that the program was a test and we said that we would be evaluating its success and listening to our customers," Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said Wednesday.

Earlier this month, flight attendants had raised safety concerns about the program because of the exit-row seating.

Northwest Chief Executive Doug Steenland said Monday that the new fee "will generate upwards of $15 million in annual revenue."

Steenland said Northwest will extend the "Coach Choice" program this summer on flights from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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