Airline lets passengers bid on 'neighbour-free seats'
Sick of elbow wars? Fancy more space on your flight?
Etihad Airways has come up with a novel fix, allowing economy-class passengers to book up to three empty seats next to their own. But the ‘Neighbour-Free Seat’ comes with a catch... Fliers can bid on seats when they book, but successful bids won’t be confirmed until 30 hours before take-off.
Etihad, which flies daily from Dublin to Abu Dhabi, says the service gives guests the option “to enhance their flying experience” — subject to availability and cabin configuration, of course.
Is it worth it? Going to press, return fares to Abu Dhabi started from roughly €524. A successful bid at that price would mean three seats for less than half of a Business Class fare (€2,969) — offering an option to sprawl out or avoid smelly armpits, albeit without the frills and lie-flat seats up front.
With low demand, lower bids could also pay off. Conversely, if planes are full or others are bidding, prices could rise.
What’s the point of this? Etihad says it’s offering new value and flexibility-led services (economy-class guests can also pay for chauffeur services and premium lounge access) based on customer feedback. But it also looks a lot like the kind of “ancillary revenue” streams so beloved of budget airlines.
Etihad is no Ryanair, of course, but this is a tricky climate for Gulf carriers, and these are creative ways to turn optional extras into revenue.
It’s not alone, either. Last autumn, Emirates introduced an Advanced Seat Selection option for economy class. It costs $25/€22 on the airline’s Dublin-Dubai route.
How much does the VIP treatment cost at Dublin Airport?
From €185pp. That’s the lead-in rate for the airport’s Platinum Services, available at the private terminal attached to Terminal 1. Private check-in, luggage handling and security screening, as well as refreshments, waiting areas and a chauffeur service to and from planes are all included.
Group and family rates are also available, as is a honeymoon package from €275 per couple, including a champagne reception in a private suite.
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Luxury at sea
First, Four Seasons launched a private jet. Now Ritz-Carlton announces three cruising yachts, set to accommodate 298 passengers over 149 suites.
Right now, ultra-luxury ocean cruising is dominated by larger ships from the likes of Silversea and Azamara. Ritz-Carlton aims to combine the lifestyle of its resorts (think spas, Michelin-quality restaurants and five-star service) with a cruise/yachting hybrid that can dock in glamorous ports like St Barth’s and Capri; 7–10 day itineraries are due next May, with the first boat launching in 2019.
See ritzcarlton.com/yachts for more.