With the rise of ancillaries, seat blocking is taking centre stage

by | Sep 5, 2023 | Airlines, News, Retailing

In an era marked by dynamic shifts in the aviation industry, ancillaries have emerged as a pivotal driver of airlines’ financial success. The trajectory is undeniable, with global ancillary revenues surging from $42.6 billion in 2013 to $102 billion in 2022, even amidst the pandemic disruptions. Capturing 15% of total airline revenue, these numbers underscore the strategic significance of ancillaries for bolstering airlines’ economic resilience and growth.1

Currently, one of the fastest growing ancillary solutions in the airline industry is seat blocking. According to a poll from Amex Trendex, 61% of people would be willing to pay extra to ensure the seat beside them remains empty.2 It’s a desire that airlines can tap into to not only redefine the economy passenger experience but also boost their revenue potential.

Here are some key takeaways you need to know about seat blocking and why airlines should be including it in their ancillary strategy today.


Today’s passengers want more flexible perks

Seat blocking meets the demand of economy passengers who crave a bit more elbow room but are reluctant to splurge on a Business or premium cabin upgrade. It offers an affordable middle ground—the chance to enjoy an extra seat’s worth of space—or even an entire row—without breaking the bank. Coupled with seat upgrades and other offerings, seat blocking helps create a well-rounded catalogue of perks, with a variety of price points to choose from.


Airlines need to differentiate themselves

In an industry categorized by fierce competition and tight profit margins, building brand loyalty is a key focus. Ancillary solutions are increasingly being used not only as a flight feature, but as a key differentiator. By offering seat blocking and other ways to elevate travel, airlines can expand the ways in which customers are able to get more enjoyment out of their travel journey and in turn foster future loyalty.


Consumer travel motivations and airline operations are evolving

Airlines are constantly adapting to changes in consumer behaviour and operational efficiencies. For instance, low-Cost Carriers have demonstrated that unbundling services from the base fare leads to increased revenue streams, which has encouraged larger airlines to follow suit. At the same time, passengers, no longer singularly motivated by price, are seeking more comfort in their travel experience. Ancillary services like seat blocking cater to these shifts in operations and consumer mindsets by allowing passengers to pay to tailor their experiences while giving airlines a new profit line.


Since 2009, Plusgrade has enabled airlines to monetize empty seats through seat blocking amongst other solutions. Check out Seat Blocker and other ancillary revenue opportunities by visiting the Plusgrade booth at this year’s World Aviation Festival or plusgrade.com.


Article by Plusgrade

  1. Shaping Airline Retail: The Unstoppable Rise of Ancillaries
  2. Amex Trendex: Consumers Prioritize Remote Learning and Work from Home Upgrades this Back to School Season While Dreaming of Future Travel