Etihad Airways is introducing a series of changes to ground and inflight services. Among those changes is the option for economy passengers to bid online for adjacent seats. They can bid at the time of booking online and successful bids will be confirmed 30 hours prior to departure.
The airline is offering ‘Neighbour free seat” and is allowing passengers to bid for as many as three seats next to their own depending on the availability and seat configuration. The development comes in a bid to generate more revenue in what is becoming a tough market for airlines.
A recent report by IATA estimates a drop of 0.7 billion in revenues for carriers in Middle East as a function of multiple factors including uncertainty around US travel, electronics ban on some key routes and increased infrastructure charges. With average profit equating to USD 1.78 per passenger, airlines are exploring new ways to increase their headroom.
Adding fee for additional services allows the carrier to keep ticket prices competitive while exploring additional revenue channels. For services on ground, economy class passengers can pay for access to business lounges in multiple locations for a fee depending on the use. Along with this, the airline would also allow business class passengers to pay for access to first class lounges and a spa while flying from or transitioning through Abu Dhabi. The changes are another step in a direction where airlines look for what they can sell but aren’t selling already. The ‘Neighbour free seat’ will allow the Etihad to generate revenues even on empty seats.