I think we can all agree flying economy isn’t the most glamorous or comfortable way to travel. Still, if you don’t have thousands to shell out on business or first-class seats, you have no other option but to share a row with two other people, rubbing elbows for 14 hours. But what if we told you that was about to change? No, that doesn’t mean rows will only have two seats; rather, airlines are looking for ways to make flying economy a bit more bearable.
Take, for instance, Air New Zealand, which launched the Economy Skycouch, essentially turning an entire row of seats into a couch for the cost of two economy seats. For an extra comfy option, the airline also debuted the world-first Skynest, which are economy sleep pods passengers can book on long-haul flights for four hours at a time.
Qantas just unveiled the Neighbour-Free empty seat program, giving passengers the opportunity to reserve the seat next to them. However, this program isn’t exactly new or groundbreaking. Top-tier frequent flyers have had access to this economy perk for quite some time but kept it quiet. This is the first time the perk is available to all passengers. Yet, there are a few catches that seem to be stumping people, so we broke it all down.
Is it Available On All Flights?
No, the Neighbour-Free seat program is only available on select routes, not including international routes and some of the busiest domestic routes.
How Does it Work?
After booking an economy seat on a domestic flight, Qantas will send eligible passengers an email 48 hours prior to departure, inviting them to reserve the seat next to them. This all depends on how full the flight is. If successful, simply select your standard seat followed by your Neighbour-Free seat.
How Much Does it Cost?
Expect to pay between $30 to $65 extra for the Neighbour-Free seat, depending on the route. A flight from Sydney to Melbourne will set you back a minimum of $35, which is surprisingly affordable for a little extra elbow and leg room if you need to man spread.
The Fine Print
As with anything related to airlines, there are always terms and conditions. First of all, the seat can’t be used for children, musical instruments, or extra carry-on bags, so no, before you ask, your golf clubs can’t have a seat of their own. The Neighbour-Free seats are subject to availability and can be pulled at the last minute, and if Qantas sells the seat, then you could end up with a neighbour anyway. Passengers will get the final word on their free seat at the gate, as the airline might need to change the seating arrangements for operational, safety, or security reasons, even after boarding the aircraft.
Don’t worry, if any of the above happens, you will get a full refund on your Neighbour-Free seat.