The United Arabs’ biggest carrier, Emirates, and Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, have joined the league of airlines offering passengers a new service called the “Neighbour Free Seating Option.” Signing up for this program means passengers will pay a little more to keep the seat next to them vacant throughout their flight. Passengers can make this happen by paying an upgrade fee of between $30-$65.

Qantas Testing Program Across Six Domestic Routes

Qantas plane
Emirates, and Qantas, have joined the league of airlines offering the neighbor-free seating service. (c) Nel Botha
Australian airline Qantas is testing this service on selected domestic flights for six weeks.
This service is currently available for short-haul routes ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours long; for now, only passengers traveling from Darwin to Melbourne, Brisbane to Pert and Adelaide, Sydney to Gold Coast, Darwin, and Adelaide can enjoy this service for an additional upgrade fee of between $35 and $65. The airline says they are working on increasing the routes later this year if the test-run works out a success.
There is, however, a caveat; That is that this upgrade is available only on flights that aren’t already full. Passengers will be sent an email informing them of extra seats about 48 hours before their departure, but should the plane suddenly fill up before departure, they will get their money refunded and upgrade cancelled.

Emirates Neighbor Free Program Already Running

Inside an airplane
Emirates Neighbor Free Program has been on for about six months ago. @Daniel Frese
Dubai-based carrier Emirates implemented a similar program about six months ago. In March 2022, the airline announced that its customers can now enjoy more spaces by purchasing up to three empty adjoining seats on their economy class flights.
The clause, however, is that the service is subject to availability, and seats are only up for purchase at the airport check-in counter during the check-in process. The option costs between US$ 55 to US$ 165 per empty seat.

Other Carriers Following Suit?

different airlines
Other airlines like Fiji Airways, Philippines Airlines, and Sri Lankan Airlines also offer the service. (c) Pixabay
This service is not just avaliable to flights operated by Emirates and Qantas. Other Carriers are now also implementing the program, under different names.
Fiji Airways, for instance, offers its passengers what they call “My Bubble Seat.” First introduced in December 2021, the airline said it was a way to maintain social distancing, have more personal space, and enjoy extra comfort in their Economy cabin. The option is available for purchase four to 72 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Philippines Airlines offers the same service under the name “Choice Seat Neighbor-Free,” and passengers can upgrade to this offer for as low as $30. Sri Lankan Airlines “neighbor-free seats are available within four to 48 hours of departure and can be booked online. The service is, however, subject to some strict conditions similar to Qantas & Emirates.

Have you ever upgraded to any of these Neighbor Free Programs? Please share your experience with us in the comments below!


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