Call it an anti-social networking option. Oman Air has a new “My Space” option for economy class travelers to secure a blocked middle seat when flying.
The option becomes available only during the online check-in process, not in advance. Passengers will see the full seat map, including rows that might have multiple empty seats together. They can then select one of those seats and pay a fee to ensure the others remain empty. Rates start at ~$25.
Oman Air partnered with Plusgrade to deliver the My Space offering. Plusgrade launched the technology for this service well before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold but has seen strong interest and adoption of the platform in recent month. Plusgrade also offers a bidding for upgrades solution used by many airlines.
Adding a paid option for blocked seats now also raises a challenge for Oman Air, as with other carriers doing similar. For the past few months airlines, health officials, and passengers have debated the need for additional space on board as a health and safety measure, not just a comfort factor.
Pushing a new sales option, especially while stating it is for “social distancing” could be construed as an airline selling safety. And that rarely goes well. Frontier took a lot of flak for a similar effort in May, backing away from selling the blocked seat after just two days of outrage.
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