Rejoice! This Airline Lets Customers Pay a Little Extra for ‘Neighbour-Free’ Seats

Picture this: you’ve just taken your seat on a plane, and have hunkered down for an international flight god knows how many hours long. You’re comfortable; relaxed…Then the unthinkable happens. A loud, stinking stranger plunks into the vacant seat beside you. Instantly, your relaxation gives way to stress and discomfort as you brace for prolonged stretches of awkward conversation, unwelcome smells, and elbow-to-elbow skirmishes for control of the armrest. Heaven forbid you drew the middle seat, and have one of these undesirable neighbours on either side of you…

These are the kinds of situations Etihad Airways, the second largest airline operating out of the United Arab Emirates, is attempting to combat by offering customers the option of paying for the vacant seats around them to assure a little extra comfort and space on long flights.

The airline announced this new and wonderful option, which is available in economy class, late last week.

Here’s how this new and interesting travel option works, per Huffington Post.

Customers simply place a bid on the empty seats around them. They’re allowed to bid on one, two or three surrounding seats, depending on the size of the plane and the availability of seats. With a little luck, Etihad will accept these bids, and the customer will enjoy some extra personal space on their flight. Unfortunately, Etihad doesn’t guarantee all bids will be accepted, and can only notify customers on the status of their bids 32 hours out from flight time.

According to, this new option is one of Etihad’s latest efforts to generate new revenue in the difficult-to-crack Middle Eastern market.

Etihad, of course, isn’t the only airline to offer new and interesting perks of this type. Lufthansa, the largest airline in Germany, for example, recently started offering cheap flights to travelers with a key stipulation: travelers don’t know where they’re headed until they board the flight. Talk about an adventure.

In the ultra competitive air travel industry, airlines are perpetually on the hunt for new ways to separate themselves from the crowd. Unique options like the ones above, then, are probably going to become more and more common over the coming years. That’s great news for anyone who’s been bitten by the travel bug.

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor is a globetrotting writer currently based in Ottawa, Canada. He covers mixed martial arts for Fightland and Vice Sports, and freelances for a number of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TomTayMMA.

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