Airlines that allow you to block the seat next to you

airline that allows you to block the seat next to you

Choosing your seat for an upcoming flight can feel like a game of chance.

You may be able to check the aircraft seating map and work out which seats to avoid. But you’ll still have no control over who your onboard neighbours will be and there’s no prior way to tell if you’ll luck out and get a whole row to yourself.

But now some airlines have a convenient new feature – the ability to block out the seat next to you for a fee.

At the start of September, Qantas announced the trial of its ‘Neighbour Free’ seating option, allowing economy cabin customers the opportunity to enjoy more space to relax.

The company says that the program is being tested on six domestic routes within Australia, but the seat is not guaranteed to stay empty until departure time.

The trial is invitation-only and offered to eligible customers after they have booked select domestic routes.

If eligible, the customer may be emailed 48 hours before their scheduled flight departure with an invitation to reserve Neighbour Free. To book, the customer clicks on the link provided in the email, selects the Neighbour Free option next to their Standard Seat and pays via credit or debit card.

The cost of comfort, in this case, is $30 to $65. Unfortunately, though, the extra seat is not guaranteed until departure. If someone ends up buying that seat, the customer will receive a refund.

The extra seat is supposed to remain empty for your comfort and is not to be used for infant seating or to store extra carry-on luggage, including musical instruments.

Qantas isn’t the only company to offer extra elbow room. Here are some other airlines that allow you to purchase extra space.

Read: How to avoid getting stuck in the middle seat when flying

Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways introduced ‘My Bubble Seat’ in 2021 as a way to offer social distancing, additional comfort, and more personal space to customers. The option is available to purchase between 72 to four hours before departure time, and is offered based on availability upon check-in.

‘My Island’ is another option that offers guests the opportunity to book a whole row on long-haul economy flights. With added amenities such as a mattress topper, business class-sized pillow, extra blanket, and a seat belt extender, guests can then comfortably lie down across the row.


Emirates has been allowing economy customers to buy up to three adjoining seats at the airport check-in counter before departure since March 2021. The company confirms that they introduced the program in response to passengers who prefer the economy class, but wanted more space. That includes couples who’d like a row alone, parents with infants travelling on their laps, or those who’d simply like to guarantee social distancing.  

The cost for the upgrade is between $55 and $185.

Read: Get your best rest with our guide to sleeping on a plane

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s ‘Twin Seat’ program offers economy passengers the option to purchase an extra seat on select flights. Passengers can inquire about the option at the check-in counter. The extra seat is broadly available across Air Zealand’s network, but not every flight offers the option. 

The price of the extra seat varies by route, with the cheapest seats available on domestic flights within New Zealand ($25 to $88). Extra seats on flights between Australia and New Zealand cost $29 to $99.

The most expensive seats are available on flights from Los Angeles to Rarotonga.

However, having an extra seat doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to lie flat. “Not all armrests onboard our aircraft fully retract and therefore Twin Seat is not intended for, and may not allow you to sit across or lie across multiple seats,” the terms and conditions state.


Etihad offers ‘Economy Neighbour-Free’ as one of its seating options, for those wanting some extra breathing space.

Available 72 to four hours before flight time, the options can be accessed by entering the booking reference number and name on the seat selection page. Passengers can select up to three neighbouring seats.

Read: What your plane seat choice says about your personality

Philippines Airlines

For an extra fee as low as $30, Philippines Airlines will allow you to block out the seats beside you in economy class, ensuring you have more space to relax and feel safe. Eligible passengers will receive an email invitation 48 hours before their flight and can purchase the option at check-in.

Depending on the aircraft, up to three connecting seats can be blocked. The extra room will be reconfirmed upon boarding.

What do you think of these options? Would you pay to block the seat next to you on a flight? Let us know why or why not in the comments section below.

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

One Comment

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  1. I would certainly pay, but with only being able to purchase the extra seats 48-72 hrs out from flying I wouldn’t be bothered. I’ll pay that extra for a long haul flight to go BC, or pay for the extra legroom in economy that most airlines offer on shorter routes.

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