As the travel industry is still fighting to recover from the damages caused by the pandemic, some companies are working to attract passengers with promotions  This is what the Australian airline Qantas is doing this month. As Travel + Leisure reported, the company is allowing customers to guarantee they won’t have a seatmate by purchasing the empty extra seat next to them for between $30 AUD and $65 AUD ($20.28 and $33.80) in economy class. 

Named “Neighbor Free Seating option,” the trial includes six domestic routes over six weeks.

How The Empty Extra Seat Trial Works

Frontier Airlines
Witthaya Prasongsin

According to Travel + Leisure, Qantas will send an email invitation to passengers who booked a flight that isn’t full 48 hours before their departure. Passengers can choose to upgrade, but the additional seat won’t be guaranteed until departure, if the company needs to change the empty seats for operational, safety or security reasons, even after boarding the aircraft,” said Qantas spokesperson. If the plane fills up, customers will receive a refund for the seat.

The ‘ “Neighbor Free Seating option,” program is available on flights from the Gold Coast to Sydney, Adelaide to Sydney, Darwin to Melbourne, Darwin to Sydney, Perth to Brisbane, and Adelaide to Brisbane.

A Qantas spokesperson told Travel +Leisure that The airline will then consider expanding the program to other domestic flights by the end of this year. The company added that it has no plans to extend the program to international flights. 

 Qantas is not the only airline company that is allowing economy customers to purchase an extra seat. Last year, The Gulf carrier Emirates also introduced the chance to spread out by purchasing an empty seat starting as low as $55. In 2017, Etihad Airways introduced a program that allows passengers to bid on up to three extra empty seats adjacent to their booked seat.