Qantas has expanded its 'Neighbour Free' upgrade offering, now allowing economy cabin passengers to pay for an empty seat beside them on a variety of international flights including New Zealand routes.
The Australian airline is trialling the feature on nine trans-Tasman routes as well as flights to the US and Singapore after launching the option on select domestic services in September 2022.
Customers flying between Aotearoa and Australia can expect to pay at least AU$45 for the 'Neighbour Free' option, which will cost at least AU$100 on flights between Australia and Singapore, and AU$225 on US routes.
However, the option will only be available on flights that are not fully booked and the empty seat beside you is not guaranteed until the flight departs - even if you've paid for it. Passengers booked on eligible flights will receive an email notification 48 hours before departure offering the option to reserve an adjacent seat; if they accept but the seat is then sold, Qantas will issue a refund.
Other airlines already offer similar options for ensuring there's an empty seat beside you, including Air New Zealand which includes a 'neighbour free guarantee' as part of its Works Deluxe airfares on certain trans-Tasman flights.
Qantas has not divulged how long the trial period will last, but said further international routes will be added in "the coming months" following evaluation of the trial.
"We've had a really positive reaction from customers who've opted to travel Neighbour Free on our domestic network and customers have told us they want the option on our international flights too," Catriona Larritt, the airline's chief customer and digital officer, said in a statement provided to Newshub.
"Whether they're hopping across the Tasman or taking a longer flight to the United States, we think customers will value being able to secure some extra space.
"International bookings can be a little more complex, which is why we're starting with select routes and bookings without additional products to test our processes, before expanding the program in the coming months."
The Qantas New Zealand routes that offer Neighbour-Free upgrade: