China Southern Airlines has started to advertise an interesting new concept on select routes, namely purchasing additional Economy Class seats next to their own which will then be blocked for personal use.
While the principle of purchasing an extra seat against payment is not new, the way China Southern handles it is that the seat will be sold at the airport only and the prices are heavily discounted rather than regular fare minus taxes.
The campaign has so far only been published on China Southern’s WeChat Page (access here) in Chinese and not been replicated on their main website at this point.
They target the promotion to passengers departing Guangzhou, China Southern’s hub and prices vary based on destination categories (3 types of categories):
China Southern calls the campaign ‘One Passenger, More Seats’ and affords customers the option to purchase up to three extra seats on their flight with prices ranging between RMB250 (US$35) to RMB1,700 (US$250) depending on the duration/category of the flight,
These promotional seats can only be purchased at the airport check-in counter AFTER all passengers have completed the check-in.
I’m really not sure how this is supposed to work in a practical manner. Are customers supposed to wait in the public area until the last passenger checked in and then decide which seats they want to buy?
Likewise, the problem with advance seat reservations is that are always scrambled all over the plane and often times passengers strategically reserve seats where the middle seat is presently empty (myself included). This behavior would take potential ’empty seat’ sales inventory away from the airline as passengers would likely pay for extra seats (two) but not an empty middle seat.
You can always purchase an empty seat next to you for any sort of reason, such as being a larger individual who needs more space for safety and comfort or for situations like transporting a musical instrument such as a cello. These seats are usually charged at the full price but do not incur passenger departure/arrival taxes and have to be booked through the reservation department.
Would you pay $100 for an international long haul flight to have an empty seat next to you? How about $200/$250 for an entire row?