“A contactless, stress-free flying experience”: that is the promise from the leading Indian airline, SpiceJet – but only for passengers who pay extra to leave adjacent seats empty.
Travellers who believe “hell is other people,” or wish to increase social distancing, are invited to select an aisle or window seat, and then add one or two additional seats.
The message is: “Book from window to aisle, for your safety and smile.”
The pricing on a test booking made by The Independent indicated that the empty seats are sold at about 60 per cent of the “human” price.
Between Delhi and Mumbai, the first flight of the day on 24 September is priced at 4,305 rupees (£46) for a single traveller and a seat assignment.
The two extra seats are priced at 2,664 rupees (£28) each. A “private row” costs a total of £102, which represents a premium of 125 per cent.
Passengers who choose the option are told: “Just sit back, relax and enjoy a contactless, stress-free flying experience.”
SpiceJet is also offering passengers Covid-19 insurance, covering “tests, medication and consultations during hospitalisation for positive diagnosis of Covid-19,” for the equivalent of £5.
Following the collapse of Jet Airways in 2019, SpiceJet became the nation’s second-largest airline, after Air India. Its slogan is: “Red. Hot. Spicy."
A US study in July claimed keeping the middle seat empty on flights could almost halve the risk of catching coronavirus.