A little known fact is that you can buy an extra seat from the airline when travelling. This is commonly used by musicians who don’t wish to check valuable musical instruments into the hold, and more recently to accommodate bariatric passengers who can’t fit in a single seat.
Those in the know also book extra seats to make long haul journeys in economy a little more bearable – we all know the wave of relief when the announcement says “boarding complete” and you’ve got an open seat next to you.
But, the airlines have tended to not like you doing it unless you really have a need. Depending on the airline, the extra seat can be cheaper than the seat you’ll actually be sat in (no meals, no extra bag entitlement, etc.), so it loses them some revenue.
Virgin Atlantic have decided to market the idea of extra seat, but it’s not quite the same concept. In this case, they are only bookable from 72 hours in advance – i.e. when Virgin know the plane is or isn’t going to go with empty seats, and they can be as cheap as £99 per flight.
In theory, it sounds like a good idea – by paying a fee, you can be certain you’ll have a bit more space, and Virgin get a little bit of money for that seat which would otherwise have gone empty.
I’ve not flown Virgin now for over two years, and that means I don’t have any status in their frequent flyer scheme anymore (I was Gold for about 8-10 years). Giving away “Seat Plus” to a Flying Club Gold member would be a fantastic perk, wouldn’t it? Don’t know if they are planning on doing it though.