As I am typing this I am sitting at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat airport onboard Vietnam Airlines flight VN773 bound for Sydney. I don’t often write my posts on the go, but I really wanted to capture how I felt ‘in the moment’ before my memory became jaded. Why? Because I’m more that just a little bit pleased with myself that I took a chance and registered for an Optiontown empty seat option all those months ago. I have to admit I was skeptical that it would actually come off, but here I am stretched out across 3 seats in my ‘economy class flat bed’ with a grin a mile wide on my face. The Hubs is doing the same in the row in front and we can hardly believe that we have six seats all to ourselves! If you want to enjoy your next flight with a little more room for a fraction of the cost, read on for all the details …
What Is Optiontown?
Optiontown was founded in 2003 and acts as a conduit between airlines and passengers to sell airlines perks that would otherwise go unused. The upside for the airlines is that they earn a little extra incremental income and passengers are able to score perks for a fraction of the cost of what it would normally cost. Everybody wins!
Why Use Optiontown Empty Seat Option (ESo)
Flight VN773 from Ho Chi Minh City to Sydney is a red eye. It departs HCMC at 9pm and arrives in Sydney 8 hours later at the local time of 8am. Any one who has ever flown on an economy class red eye flight knows only too well the agony of being denied sleep at 36,000ft due to the cramped conditions. I love to fly flat as much as the next person and my recent trip on Emirates A380 first class was all sorts of amazing but most times my budget won’t allow that sort of luxury and more often than not I am relegated to booking cattle class. I’m always hopeful that the flight will be virtually empty and there will be oodles of room around me but my life is not a fairy tale and I am usually boxed in by the most obnoxious of seat mates. But the Optiontown Empty Seat Option offers a way to stack the odds in my favour. Shortly after booking my flight to HCMC with Vietnam Airlines I received an email from Optiontown. I wasted no time registering an Optiontown Empty Seat Option for both my outward and return journey. I paid $28 for a single empty seat option on the way out and AUD$70 for our 4 empty seats on the return. Considering the return airfare was AUD$563.14 per person, that is brilliant value. Once you have registered and paid with Optiontown you just have to wait and hope for the best. They will contact you anywhere between 3 days and 4 hours before your flight to let you know if you have been successful. If you miss out they will provide a full refund. It should be noted that even if you receive an email saying you are successful your empty seats are not guaranteed until you get to the check in desk so get there as early as you possibly can. While the ‘economy class flat bed’ was not quite as good as my flat bed on Emirates A380 business class, it was a pretty close second.
What Other Perks Does Optiontown Offer?
Optiontown offers a number of different airline perks including upgrades, preferred seats, lounge access, preferred seating and extra baggage. I did dice with the idea of an upgrade on my recent Vietnam Airlines flight instead of the empty seat option but you can only go one class up. As we had booked economy class tickets, we could only upgrade to premium economy and it was quite a bit more than the empty seat option. Had I been able to upgrade to business I might have been more tempted.
Who Do Optiontown Partner With?
Optiontown have a limited number of partner airlines including JetBlue, Vietnam Airlines, Egypt Air, Vistara, Fly Dubai, Air Asia, Volaris, Air Arabia, Biman, Insel Air, Adria, Air India, Cambodia Angkor Air, Jetstar Pacific and Spice Jet. We have flown Air Asia a number of times and we did register for an Optiontown upgrade once but sadly we missed out.
While it was a little bit of effort using Optiontown the benefits far outweighed the work. While I was skeptical after missing out on Air Asia, my faith has been restored and I will have no hesitation using the Optiontown Empty Seat Option again if I happen to be using one of their partner airlines. Do you have any experience using Optiontown? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Until Next Time …
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Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I paid for my upgrades with Optiontown in full. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links which will earn me a few cents to contribute to the running of this site if you make a qualifying purchase at no extra cost to you.