Emirates Introduces $55 Option to Book Empty Seat Next to You


For those who don't want to leave their airplane seating space to chance, Emirates is now offering economy class passengers the ability to book adjacent empty seats for additional social distancing (or simply leg room) during the pandemic.

All passengers with a confirmed economy class booking will be able to purchase up to three empty adjoining seats before boarding their flights.

The seats are not available to pre-book and will only be made available at the airport check-in counter ahead of flight departure. Each seat will cost anywhere from $55 to $165, plus applicable taxes, depending on the flight. And availability will vary, depending on how full the flight is.

The option has been made available to "couples who wish to have the entire row to themselves," parents traveling with infants, or "those who simply want the added assurance of more space while traveling during pandemic times," according to a press release from the airline.

While passengers have the distinct chance of having an empty seat next to them in the cabin (thanks to decreased travel during the pandemic), the latest offer from Emirates helps them have a bit more control over the odds.

The ability to socially distance aboard an airplane cabin is becoming a competitive perk for airlines during the pandemic. Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines announced that it would continue its policy of blocking the middle seat aboard flights until April 30, 2021.

Last year, ultra-low-cost Frontier Airlines introduced the ability to book an empty middle seat for a "more room" fee, starting at $39. The idea was quickly dropped after backlash. "We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent," Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said at the time. "We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space."

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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