New ‘Neighbour-Free Seat’ option lets passengers bid to sit solo

Hate sitting next to people on planes but don’t have the cash to spring for a business class seat? We feel you.

We can’t even remember how many times we’ve sat next to an empty seat during boarding, only to curse our luck when it gets occupied right at the last minute.

Starting from 3 July, Etihad Airways is giving its economy class passengers the opportunity to buy out up to three seats adjacent to where they are sitting.

That means ostensibly you can secure an entire four-seat row to yourself for maximum reclining. Win!

The new ‘Neighbour-Free Seat’ (NFS) option is part of an initiative by the Abu Dhabi-based airline to offer increased flexibility and value to its passengers.

Sounds great, but how much does it cost?

Well, that’s the interesting part. Rather than offering available seats at a defined price, passengers traveling in economy class will receive an email notification a few days prior to departure informing them that an adjacent seat is currently available.

They are then given the opportunity to bid, auction-style, via the airline’s website to keep that seat free.

There are no specifics of how much a bid is likely to be, only that there are minimum and maximum bidding amounts for each flight.

If the bid is successful the seat is marked with a ‘Reserved’ sign (probably so it can’t be nicked by opportunistic freeloaders) and customers are informed 30 hours prior to departure – giving you plenty of time to figure out what you’re going to do with all that extra space.

May we suggest sticking your elbows out as far as you darn well please.

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Image: Getty