Airlines know space comes at a premium in the air, but if seats are going to be left empty anyway, why not guarantee them to certain passengers at a price? On these carriers, even those in economy can stretch out luxuriously — at the cost of less than a business class ticket.
1. Lucky Airlines
With its descriptively named One Man, Many Seats offering, this Chinese carrier is the latest airline to adopt the multi-seat sales strategy. A spokesperson told Chinese media Sina that passengers can buy adjacent seats for up to 80 percent off the original price, giving them privacy and extra space for belongings that won’t fit in the overhead compartment.
Under the MaxYourSpace option, this Singapore budget carrier lets passengers submit requests for empty seats when booking tickets. Prices start at SGD19, and if the seat’s yours, the airline will inform you 12 hours before departure.
3. AirAsia and Jetstar
In partnership with Optiontown, a US revenue management specialist, AirAsia, Jetstar and nearly 10 other airlines — including Vietnam Air, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Cambodia Angkor Air — have an Empty Seat Option, where passengers can buy three seats to create a flatbed. Prices depend on route.
4. Etihad Airways
The Neighbour-Free Seat option seems designed for introverts: bids for empty seats are placed during booking. But the airline won’t disclose the minimum and maximum price for a seat, and members of its frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest, get priority.
5. Air New Zealand
With the Skycouch option, three economy seats are converted into a bed (with extra bedding provided on top of the regulation pillow and blanket). Prices fluctuate depending on demand, but the more people sharing a Skycouch, the cheaper the rate. The Skycouch requires the purchase of three seats but a couple can buy the extra seat at a 50 per cent discount.
6. Air Astana
The Economy Sleeper offering includes a duvet and complimentary amenity kit, but these seats can cost at least half the price of a business class flight.