Did you know that several airlines offer the option to purchase and block one or more seats next to you? This means you can have extra space to spread out or even have an entire row to lie down and actually get some sleep on a flight.
The right economy seat on a flight can make all the difference. It can guarantee you survive a long-haul flight or even help make your economy seat feel almost like first class. Choosing the wrong seat can result in a miserable travel experience plagued by noise, inconsiderate neighbors, the torture of insomnia, and arriving exhausted with stiff muscles.
Even with the help of websites like SeatGuru, deciphering seat maps and picking the best option can be a game of luck. And for those who think they scored the perfect seat, there is always the lottery of your random row mates to throw a wrench in your plans for relaxing.
But there are a few little-known secrets for those of us stuck in basic economy. Purchasing a whole row in economy is a lot cheaper than purchasing a seat in premium economy that only reclines, let alone a lie flat bed in business. And you can do this at a big discount with special airline programs! It is an easy way to have a little more comfort when budgeting for the digital nomad lifestyle or planning long term travel. And it is a much better option than trying to hack your way to sleep well in the middle seat.
Several airlines also offer special bedding, blankets, and pillows with these extra seat options. While you don’t get the fancy meals or special service of business class, you get the most important part at a steep discount – the ability to lie down, stretch out, and sleep.
Are you ready to take advantage of this secret for getting extra space and comfort on your next flight? Here are the airlines offering extra seats for more elbow room or even a full row for a reasonable price.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general information purposes only. It is not meant to represent legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice. Deskless Nomad makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete, or up to date. Please see the full Deskless Nomad Disclaimer.
Air Astana Economy Sleeper
Kazakhstan-based Air Astana offers the Economy Sleeper, a guaranteed row of 3 economy class seats transformed with a mattress layer and a “luxurious duvet and pillow set.” Guests also enjoy access to the Business Class lounge, Business Class amenity kit, increased baggage allowance, and an enhanced inflight entertainment program.
Available to purchase: At the time of original booking
Price: Variable depending on the route
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand Twin Seat
The Twin Seat option on Air New Zealand allows you to purchase the seat next to you at a steep discount. You must wait until you arrive at check-in and ask the Air New Zealand counter staff about the option. Twin Seats are available on many but not all of Air New Zealand’s flights.
Not all armrests on Air New Zealand aircraft fully retract so you may not be able to lie down. In fact, the website states that the Twin Seat is not intended for you to lay down (they have the SkyCouch product for that – see below). You can try to score a seat with a retractable armrest by using SeatGuru to identify which seats are in the SkyCough section. The seats in this section will definitely have retractable armrests but may not be available if others have purchased them to make SkyCouches.
Available to purchase: At the check-in counter
Price: Variable. Here are some example prices listed on the Air New Zealand website:
- USD $60 from Honolulu to Auckland
- USD $75 from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Auckland
- USD $75 from Los Angeles to Rarotonga
- USD $99 from NYC, Houston, and Chicago to Auckland
- CAD $99 from Vancouver to Auckland
Air New Zealand SkyCouch
SkyCouch is another one of Air New Zealand’s innovative products for passengers to have extra space. It is a row of 3 economy seats with a seat extension that widens the seat length to turn the row into a bed. The Skycouch is a flexible space to relax, stretch out, or sleep. You also get pillows, bedding, and an extra extendable seat belt.
When you compare the SkyCouch price to the cost of a premium economy seat it is considerably less. You can actually lie flat with the SkyCouch whereas premium economy seats only recline. While you don’t get the amenities bag and special cuisine of premium economy, the Skycouch option may be well worth it if you are flying 12+ hours from Los Angeles or 17+ hours from JFK to Auckland.
Available to purchase: At the time of original booking. You’ll want to make sure you select a flight labeled with “SkyCouch Available.”
Price: Variable. The cost of a Skycouch row when traveling from San Francisco to Auckland is currently around $1000 plus the cost of a regular economy seat for one person. SkyCouch costs less if two passengers traveling together occupy the row (you’ll have to spoon or take turns lying down).
Air New Zealand SkyNest
In 2024 Air New Zealand will begin offering the SkyNest with the rollout of their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. There will be 6 SkyNest sleeping pods on each plane which you can purchase for a 4-hour block during your flight. Air New Zealand has yet to release information on the price or booking process.
Alaska Airlines Comfort Seat
Alaska Airlines guests can purchase an adjacent main cabin seat called a Comfort Seat. To purchase a Comfort Seat you must call reservations for assistance (the standard ticketing fee is waived for the comfort seat). You can also use miles to purchase the Comfort Seat.
An extra seat is usually full price but you can use a Companion Fare discount code to purchase the Comfort Seat. The Alaskan Miles Companion Fare is a benefit of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Care or Business Card and lets you book steeply discounted economy companion fares on the same itinerary starting at $121.
You can earn miles for the Comfort Seat if you pay in cash but the miles do not count towards elite status. Unfortunately, you do not get an additional baggage allowance just because you bought a Comfort Seat.
Available to purchase: Anytime prior to departure
Price: The same as a regular seat unless you have an Alaska Airlines credit card with the Companion Fare discount.
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
All Nippon Airways COUCHii
ANA markets the COUCHii as “seats that double as a bed.” The COUCHii is made up of a row of 3 or 4 seats with raised leg rests to create a flat bed. This option comes with its own bedding, pillows, and blanket.
Available to purchase: You can purchase the COUCHii at any time from the original booking up until 48 hours prior to departure.
Price: The price varies depending on seasonality but ranges from $620 for 3 seats in the low season to $2580 for 4 seats in the high season.
Emirates Economy Class Empty Seats
Emirates Economy Class customers can purchase up to 3 empty adjoining seats at check-in prior to the flight departure. The company introduced the program in response to customer feedback in March 2021.
Available to purchase: At the airport check-in counter before departure
Price: Variable depending on the route. Between $55 and $165 per seat plus applicable taxes (or AED 200 to 600).
Etihad Economy Neighbor-Free
Etihad offers the Economy Neighbor-Free seating option in which you can select up to 3 neighboring seats. You can select the option by entering your booking reference number and name on the seat selection page of their website.
Available to purchase: 72 to 4 hours before departure
Price: Variable and not transparent. The website says you can “bid to keep up to 3 neighboring seats free.” There is a minimum and maximum bid the site will accept, with priority given to members of Etihad Guest, the airline’s frequent flyer program.
Fiji Airways My Bubble Seat
Fiji Airways allows you to block the seat beside you with My Bubble Seat Blocker. This service is available to purchase 72 to 4 hours prior to departure. You use the online seat map to select the seat(s) you want to block and then enter payment information. Seats across an aisle or in other rows can’t be blocked out. Original tickets purchased with miles or rewards are not eligible. My Bubble Seat is available on flights between Nadi and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver.
Available to purchase: 72 to 4 hours prior to departure
Price: Fiji Airlines does not explicitly list prices until you attempt to purchase the extra seat online. One passenger on an online forum reported paying $204 per Bubble Seat on a flight from Nadi, Fiji to San Francisco. The passenger was offered an upgrade to business class on the same flight for $1,400 so it made more sense for them to purchase the extra economy seats instead.
Fiji Airlines My Island
Fiji Airlines allows you to purchase 2 additional seats in the same row so you can lay down with their My Island option. My Island comes with a pillow-top mattress, blanket, pillow, and a seatbelt extender. This option can be purchased similarly to My Bubble Seat, only you block 2 seats in addition to your original seat in order to have an entire row to yourself.
Here a Twitter user shared a photo of his experience and reported paying only $250 for the option on a long-haul economy flight.
Lufthansa Sleeper’s Row
Lufthansa’s Sleeper’s Row promises a whole row of 3 or 4 seats in Economy Class on long-haul flights of 11 or more hours. Once on board, a flight attendant will give you a Sleeper’s Row set – a thin mattress as well as a Business Class-quality blanket and pillow.
Available to purchase: At the airport check-in counter or shortly before departure at the gate. Advance reservation is not possible.
Price: Between €159 and €229 (USD $179 and $249) per leg depending on the route.
Philippines Airlines Choice Seat Neighbor Free
Philippines Airlines offers Choice Seat Neighbor Free which allows you to block an additional seat or buy a row of seats for as little as USD $30 for each empty seat. Eligible passengers will receive an email invitation to purchase and block additional seats 48 hours before departure. Depending on the aircraft, passengers can block out up to three adjacent seats. An airline representative will reconfirm the extra seat upon boarding just in case there are any airplane changes.
Available to purchase: 48 hours before departure (online only)
Price: Variable but as low as $30 per seat.
Qantas Neighbor Free Seating
Qantas recently started offering Neighbor Free Seating which they are trialing on 6 Australian domestic routes (between Gold Coast and Sydney, Adelaide and Sydney, Darwin and Melbourne, Darwin and Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, and Adelaide and Brisbane). If the trial is successful they’ll roll it out to more domestic routes later this year (2022).
Eligible economy passengers will receive an email invitation to opt-in 48 hours before departure. The airline doesn’t guarantee the extra seat will stay empty until boarding has ended. But they promise you will get a full refund if someone ends up sitting in it. Availability is limited so the airline recommends acting on the email invitation early. The extra seat is meant to remain empty. They don’t want you to put a child carrier, extra carry-ons, or musical instruments in it (these require additional fees).
The majority of the domestic Qantas aircraft have armrests that don’t fully retract so you may not be able to lie down. Also, you don’t get an additional checked baggage allowance for the extra seat you purchase. If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer, you can earn Qantas points for the dollar amount you paid to purchase the extra seat.
Available to purchase: 48 hours prior to departure
Price: Ranges from AUD 30 to 65 (USD $20 to 34)
Sri Lankan Airlines
Sri Lankan Neighbor Free Seats
Sri Lankan Airlines offers Neighbor Free Seats that you can book online between 48 and 4 hours prior to departure. The option is not available on all flights. You must have purchased an economy ticket and the ticket number must start with 603. The airline does not want you to use the Neighbor Free Seat for infant carriers.
Passengers can book up to three adjoining seats. The airline places headrest covers on the blocked seats marked “reserved” to make sure other passengers don’t sit there.
Eligible passengers will receive an email invite but you can also check eligibility by entering your last name and passenger name record (PNR) on the Neighbor Free Seats page.
Available to purchase: 48 to 4 hours prior to departure (online only)
Price: Rates will vary based on the route
US Airlines that will allow you to buy an adjacent seat at the regular price – for yourself, your musical instrument, your pet, or any other reason
American Airlines allows you to buy a second seat at full price for your musical instrument or just the additional space. You have to call reservations directly. The second seat must be purchased at the same fare and in the same class and for all segments in your itinerary. You can’t earn miles on the second seat no matter how you purchase it. On the other hand, you can redeem miles to pay for the extra seat.
You can purchase or redeem SkyMiles for a second seat on Delta to use as you wish including excess baggage like musical instruments, pets, or just some extra elbow room. This option is not guaranteed with Basic Economy tickets since those don’t come with advanced seat assignments.
Hawaiian Airlines permits customers to purchase an extra adjacent seat in the main cabin (as long as you don’t have a basic economy ticket). You must call the reservation services to book this option. While there are no special discounts, you can use HawaiianMiles to purchase an additional seat. If you purchase the second seat with cash, it is eligible to earn redeemable miles.
JetBlue permits you to purchase an extra seat online at the time of original booking online. You click on the option that says “this is an extra seat for traveler one.” JetBlue points cannot be used for this option online.
Southwest Airlines allows you to purchase a second seat if you are a person of size. Since they don’t have advance seat assignments they can’t ensure no one will take the seat. They do give you a “Seat Reserved” document to place in the adjacent seat. To get the seat at a discounted child’s fare you need to purchase an Anytime Fare and then call the customer service number to buy the extra seat.
Spirit allows you to purchase an extra seat at the regular price online by entering your name on both tickets. You can also use Spirit miles for the extra seat but you can’t earn miles on its purchase.
United allows you to purchase a second seat for extra personal space by calling the customer service line. You can earn miles if you buy the seat with cash or you can use miles to purchase the seat. When you purchase an extra seat you get double the checked baggage allowance. Unfortunately, there will also be a double change fee if you have to change your plans.
United also allows you to purchase the seat next to you to place a dog carrier. You will need to pay full price for the ticket plus an additional fee of $125 per pet. There is an additional $125 service charge for each stopover of more than 4 hours within the US and more than 24 hours internationally.
Whether you are looking for a way to get an empty seat next to you or a way to survive a long-haul flight, there are several options to block the seat next to you or secure a row for sleep. This is an invaluable tip for improved comfort when purchasing round-the-world airline tickets or even one-way international flights.
Having a little extra space will make it easier to arrive refreshed and ready for your travel adventures. Did you like this article? Save this list for the next time you book a trip!