Innovation That Matters

No more fighting over the armrest – Indian airline enables passengers to book an empty seat next to them

Travel & Tourism

SpiceJet now allows customers to book the seat next to them for a nominal fee when their flight hasn't reached capacity.

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Airlines have introduced some interesting – and controversial – policies in the past, including Samoa Air‘s decision to begin charging customers according to their weight. One issue that’s yet to be addressed however is which passengers get to sit next to an empty seat when the plane hasn’t been filled. India’s SpiceJet now allows customers to book the seat next to them for a nominal fee when their flight hasn’t reached capacity.

As part of the airline’s FlexiFly program – which also offers features such as rewards for flexible booking – customers flying with the company can take advantage of the Empty Seat Option (ESo). During the booking process, passengers traveling alone can choose to reserve the seat next to them, or even the entire row of three seats for a percentage of the cost of a filled seat. Those travelling in twos can also reserve the extra seat in their row to enjoy greater comfort and privacy while flying. The service costs INR 150 to sign up on top of the extra cost of the ESo, and the extra seat isn’t guaranteed unless the airline isn’t able to fill the plane. If ESo isn’t available, the customer receives a refund, however, those who select the option regularly will have more chance of getting an extra seat when a limited number are available.

The Empty Seat Option enables passengers to pay a little extra for additional luxury, much sought-after on flight, especially long haul ones. The scheme also opens up a new avenue for income when the airline doesn’t fill its flights. What other upgrades can airlines offer to top-up the air travel experience?

Spotted by Srini Rajagopalan, written by Springwise



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