In fabulous news for anyone who has ever been traumatised by their seat neighbour on an aeroplane, Qantas is now letting you buy the seat next to you for just $30 on short flights. But is this a bargain or a cheeky sales ploy? Let’s investigate.

Picture the scene. You’ve just boarded your flight from somewhere gloomy to somewhere sunny. The vibes are high and you’re keen to kick back in front of the pool with a basketball-sized cocktail.

But then, tragedy strikes! Someone has just sat down next to you, taken their shoes off, put the armrest up, coughed in your general direction and started talking about how “there’s actually heaps of evidence the moon landing was fake, bro”.

Finally, there’s a solution. This revolution in personal space is called “neighbour free” and is currently being trialled on select domestic economy Qantas flights.

There are a few finer details to note here. Purchasing a ‘neighbour free’ seat is only done by invitation within 48 hours of your scheduled departure time. This means unfortunately you’re rolling the dice a little bit.

Also, call me crazy but if it’s waiting until 48 hours before the flight’s departure to sell you an empty seat starting at $30, doesn’t that mean Qantas isn’t confident it’d sell?

For the most part, airline tickets become more expensive the fewer seats are available which is why it’s usually good to book early.

Following this logic, if Qantas is willing to part ways with a free seat right before boarding, doesn’t this mean the seat would likely remain unsold and it’d be free for you to stretch your legs on without having to splash cash?

Another piece of evidence that supports this theory is that Qantas recently cut a bunch of domestic flights to save some cash. It also asked its execs to help out with baggage handling after continued staffing shortages.

Regardless, if you’re the sort of flier who despises the idea of having to share your personal space with a stranger for a few hours, “neighbour free” could deffo be an antidote to your ailment.

Image: Scooby Doo 2002