Going forward, if you want some alone time on a flight, Australian airline Qantas might offer it to you — for a price. The “Neighbour Free” seating option is a trial program now running across six domestic routes over a six-week period.
Neighbour Free allows passengers in Economy seating to reserve the seat next to them for a lower price so that no one will be seated there for the entire flight. This feature will cost between $30-$65 in Australian dollars ($20.28 to $33.80 in U.S. dollars).
Of course, not every seat will be available. You also cannot select the Neighbour Free option very far in advance. It will only be offered to passengers on flights that are not fully booked a couple of days before departure.
There’s also no guarantee that the seat will remain empty. However, you will receive a refund if the seat is filled before departure.
Passengers who are eligible to participate will receive an email from the airline 48 hours before their scheduled flight departure with an invitation to reserve Neighbour Free. You will have until one hour before the flight to purchase the seat.
Each invitation will only apply to a particular segment of your flight. So, for example, if you are flying round-trip or have to change plans during your travels, you would have to receive an invitation and purchase the Neighbour Free reservation for each segment.
The Neighbour Free option only allows you to have an empty seat beside you. It cannot be used as a place to store carry-on items or as infant seating. Plus, you can only buy one seat. You won’t receive points or status credits for buying the extra seat, and you can’t use flight credits or a Qantas TravelPass to buy the space.
Currently, passengers can reserve Neighbour Free seats on flights from the Gold Coast to Sydney, Adelaide to Sydney, Darwin to Melbourne, Darwin to Sydney, Perth to Brisbane and Adelaide to Brisbane.
Depending on the success of this program, Qantas will consider rolling it out to other domestic flights later this year.