Emirates’ cunning plan to sell empty seats at check-in as extra space
Pay for empty seats around you.
Emirates has announced that economy class passengers can now buy empty seats at check-in to avoid sitting next to another customer.
When availability allows, passengers will be charged from $55 to $165 per adjacent seat with a maximum of three to be booked.
Bookings can only take place at check-in when there is little chance the airline can sell any more full-priced seats on the flight.
During the first six months of 2020, Emirates filled only 38.6 per cent of its seats – compared with the pre-pandemic figure of 81.1 per cent.
Reports indicate that some flights are operating with only dozens of passengers onboard.
“Emirates has introduced this new seat product on the back of customer feedback, addressing the needs of a range of customers seeking extra privacy and space,” the airline said in a statement.
Emirates’ Economy Class customers can now enjoy even more personal space and privacy on board with the ability to purchase up to three empty adjoining seats on their flight. https://t.co/hn3AIrYZvS #FlyEmiratesFlyBetter pic.twitter.com/2k33WBsmmh
The move has been criticised online, with many commentators accusing the airline of profiting off its customers by any means necessary – especially during a time when social distancing should be practiced on aircrafts anyway.
Because the empty seats can only be booked at check-in, some have argued there is a good chance that passengers who have the option to pay for the extra space would have it without paying.
Last year, Frontier Airlines offered passengers to purchase the middle-seat from $39 to encourage social-distancing on its flights.
However, the move, which the airline’s chief executive officer indicated was done to offer “extra peace of mind or simply additional comfort,” quickly backfired, forcing the airline to back-track on its decision.