Emirates Will Now Let You Pay To Not Sit Next To A Stranger

Emirates has begun to offer a new product in the economy class cabin of its aircraft. The airline will let passengers pay to block the seats next to them where availability exists, starting at $55.

Emirates, Economy, Extra Seat
Emirates is to begin allowing passengers to pay to reserve empty seats next to them. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Paying to block seats on a flight isn’t necessarily a new option. Indeed, Air New Zealand has offered products such as an additional seat for quite some time now. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has made such offerings more attractive to both airlines and customers. Last week we saw Kenya Airways launch the product with the name Economy MAX. Now it is Emirates’ turn.

More space onboard Emirates

Emirates is now giving economy class passengers the chance to upgrade their experience while traveling with the Dubai-based airline. Such passengers will now be able to purchase up to three adjoining seats where there is availability. Such seats will range from $55 to $165, plus taxes.

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The service is not available to pre-book and will only be offered at the check-in counter. By taking this approach, the airline can ensure it doesn’t stop another passenger booking one of the seats for the full fare but instead makes a little extra off of a seat that will be empty anyway. The offering comes shortly after the UAE airline debuted its new premium economy cabin.

Emirates, Economy, Extra Seat
Passengers will be able to reserve up to three seats starting at $55 each. Photo: Emirates

Why additional seats make sense right now

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, it makes sense now more than ever for airlines to start selling additional seats to passengers. From the airline’s point of view, the seat will be empty anyway. By allowing a passenger to guarantee that they’ll sit next to the open seat, the airline is making money on the seat.

However, the initiative will also be welcomed by passengers. While they can still have a chance of getting an empty seat next to them, this new service gives them a guarantee. Given that some people may still be apprehensive of traveling during the pandemic, $55-165 could be a small price to pay for that little extra assurance.

What else is Emirates doing?

Alongside the empty seat announcement, Emirates also revealed today that it would be boosting its frequency to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital city. Next Tuesday (March 9th), Emirates will up flights to the city to daily with its Boeing 777 aircraft.

Emirates, Dubai International Airport, Contactless Check-in
Emirates is also upping its Khartoum flight frequency to daily. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Commenting on the increased frequency, Khalfan Al Salami, Emirates’ Country Manager Sudan said,

“Emirates is the top choice for travellers in Sudan, and we are committed to growing our operations to and from Khartoum further to support the country’s post-pandemic recovery and help grow opportunities for future trade and investment.”

Would you pay to reserve the seat next to you on your next Emirates flight? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!