Emirates Now Allows Flyers To Pay For An Empty Adjacent Seat

a row of seats with monitors on them

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Emirates has announced that it is now allowing Economy Class passengers the chance to pay to reserve seats that adjoin the seat they are booked to travel in should they require more personal space on their flight. The principle seems simple enough but there’s one little catch that makes this a less impressive option than it may otherwise be.

Considering the current climate, it’s not surprising that airline customers would like to have more room separating them from their nearest fellow passengers, and it looks like Emirates is trying to help them make that happen.

The airline has now announced that Economy Class passengers will be able to purchase up to three empty adjoining seats on their flight for a cost of between AED 200 and AED 600 ($55 to $165) per seat (plus applicable taxes) depending on the flight sector. The problem is that the seats cannot be purchased before check-in and will only be available to purchase at an airport check-in counter.

When you consider the details of what Emirates says that it’s offering, it quickly becomes clear that this is more about a new way for the airline to make easy money than it is about giving passengers the chance to keep an empty seat between themselves and another passenger.

Take a look at things this way:

  • If you cannot pay to have an empty seat next to you before you get to an airport check-in desk, most people will not be able to make the most of this “deal” more than 3 hours before departure.
  • Most aircraft are currently flying with considerably lighter loads than normal.
  • As long as they’re asked nicely, cabin crews will almost always allow passengers to move seats in the cabin once the aircraft has reached cruising altitude.

With all of that in mind, there’s almost certainly no need for a passenger to pay extra for an empty seat. If there’s an empty seat available to be reserved 3 hours before take-off there a very good chance that that seat is going out empty anyway so why pay up to $165 more just to reserve it?

Given how empty international flight are right now (and will continue to be for quite a few months to come), it’s unlikely that a passenger will not be able to put an empty seat between themselves and the closest other passenger simply by moving within the cabin (with the cabin crew’s permission) after the aircraft has leveled out.

For people who want a cast-iron guarantee that they will have one (or more) empty seats between them and their closest fellow passenger when they next board a plane, this may be an option worth considering. For everyone else, this is probably an offer worth avoiding.