On Emirates, Economy Passengers Can Pay to Keep Neighboring Seats Empty

Ensure your privacy (and social distancing) for as little as $55

Emirates aircraft cabin

Courtesy of Emirates

While fewer and fewer airlines are blocking middle seats for free these days (hats off to Delta for being a holdout!), Dubai-based carrier Emirates is now allowing economy passengers to pay a little extra to block the seats in their row for extra privacy.

The price ranges from $55 to $165 per empty seat, plus taxes, depending on the flight, and passengers can block up to three adjoining seats, which equates to a full row.

The deal is based on availability and can only be purchased at the airport check-in counter before departure—passengers aren't able to block the seats in their row any earlier. (That said, on some airlines, you can actually pay for an extra seat at the time of booking, but it'll cost you the full fare of that seat, and you'll need to call the airline to arrange it.)

"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 while still flying in Economy Class," Emirates wrote in a statement. "This includes couples who wish to have the entire row to themselves (maximum of three seats in same row), parents traveling with in-lap infants, or those who simply want the added assurance of more space while traveling during pandemic times."

Emirates isn't the first airline to offer such a deal. Just last week, Kenya Airways debuted a similar program called Economy Max, while Air New Zealand has been running its Twin Seat program for years. As with Emirates' deal, these offerings are subject to availability during a short period before departure.