Qantas is rolling out an expansion to its “Neighbour Free” seat program. This is an option that allows economy passengers to have an empty seat next to them. For many people, having an empty seat beside them makes for a much more pleasant experience in Economy.
Using the Neighbour Free option
If you’re familiar with the Bid Now upgrade system, you’ll find the workings of the Neighbour-Free option to be quite similar.
In the case of Neighbour-Free, Qantas will send an invitation to customers booked in Economy Class on eligible flights. These will happen around 48 hours before departure.
Once you get the invitation, you will be able to purchase a spare seat between 48 hours and 1 hour prior to departure. In order to take advantage of the offer, you’ll need to click a link in the email. If the offer is still open, you can pay for the seat using a credit card. You won’t be able to use other forms of payment, such as a flight credit.
For obvious reasons, the offer will be made only when there are a sufficient number of unsold seats available on a flight. In addition, it is possible that there will only be a limited number of Neighbour-Free seats on a given flight. As such, even if you get an invitation, you may not be able to get a seat. If you are interested in the offer, you should take it up as soon as possible after receiving the email.
It’s worth noting even if you are successful in accepting a Neighbour-Free seat, they could be withdrawn prior to the flight departing. There are a number of operational reasons why this could happen. You will get a refund from Qantas if this happens.
Your boarding pass will indicate that you have reserved a Neighbour-Free seat. This will be done by a note on the boarding pass.
This is quite an interesting program from Qantas. It basically allows Qantas to make money from unsold seats on a flight. Some people, such as myself, would take a spare seat over extra leg-room. So there definitely is a target market.
Until now, Qantas has often arranged seating in such a way that status passengers have a free seat next to them. While this was never official policy, it was a nice touch when it happened. It is not clear how this will co-exist with paid Neighbour-Free seating, but I would expect the paid seat to take precedence.
The Qantas website has more details about how this works, including the terms & conditions.