Airline lets passengers book empty seat for ‘stress-free flying’ during pandemic

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic airlines have struggled with social distancing – but one may have the answer.

Holidaymakers want to maintain social distancing in the confined space of aircraft but airlines still need to make money.

Now budget carrier SpiceJet is offering a “private row” system, where travellers can pay extra to have the seats either side of them left empty.

The option is being advertised with the slogan “book from window to aisle, for your safety and smile”.

While you don’t have to pay full whack for the “contactless, stress-free flying experience”, the vacant seats are charged at a little over half price.

The morning flight between Delhi and Mumbai tomorrow (September 24), for example, is priced at 4,305 rupees (£46) for a single traveller and a seat assignment, reports the Independent.

The two extra seats would cost you 2,664 rupees (£28) each.

SpiceJet’s “private row” costs a total of £102.

The airline also offers Covid-19 insurance and a one-off premium of £5 gets you “tests, medication and consultations during hospitalisation for positive diagnosis of Covid-19”.

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SpiceJet isn’t the only airline offering a buffer zone between passengers.

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker said in July the carrier would be “blocking 50% of standard middle class seats onboard".

Although recent reports suggest the airline has started operating fully-booked planes again.

Delta and JetBlue in the US are still blocking off middle seats.

Emirates has also introduced a system that leaves a vacant seat between family groups or solo travellers.

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said the airline has no plans for social distancing on its aircraft.

He has described such measures as the idea as “mad”, “hopelessly ineffective” and unaffordable.

Most airlines are now requiring masks to be worn throughout flights, and planes are being routinely deep-cleaned between every journey.

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