Lonely Planet Writer

Etihad will let you pay to keep neighbouring seats empty

Everybody needs good neighbours is how the saying goes, but there are times when we fervently wish there was nobody next door. This particularly applies when we’re flying in an economy class seat and the person beside us is that little bit too close for us to truly relax. Therefore we’re loving the sound of Etihad Airways’ new ‘neighbour-free seat’ option, which is likely to appeal in particular to long-haul passengers who’d love to catch 40 winks on board the flight.

Etihad Airways has introduced a "neighbour-free seat." Image: Images By Tang Ming Tung
Etihad Airways has introduced a “neighbour-free seat.” Image: Images By Tang Ming Tung

The Abu Dhabi-based airline has announced that from 3 July, it is giving its economy class passengers the opportunity to buy up to three seats adjacent to where they are sitting. We like the sound of that, because while planes are one of the best inventions in the entire world, putting up with the cramped conditions in an average economy class seat is one of prices we have to pay. This service provides guests with the option to enhance their flying experience by ‘bidding’ for up to three empty seats next to their original seat, subject to availability and cabin configuration.

How it will work is that passengers travelling in economy class will receive an email notification a few days prior to departure informing them that adjacent seats are currently available. They are then given the opportunity to bid to keep them free – there are minimum and maximum bidding amounts for each flight. Successful bids will be confirmed 30 hours prior to departure.

The new ‘neighbour-free seat’ option is part of an initiative by Etihad to offer increased flexibility and value to its passengers. Others include amending its chauffeur policy and offering economy class guests paid access to its growing portfolio of dedicated lounges around the world.