There are many reasons why flying in economy class can be terrible, but few are worse than being seated next to a screaming toddler, a relentless talker, or somebody who can't stop sweating and smells of goats milk.

Etihad Airways is now offering passengers a way out from unwanted travel companions by introducing a 'neighbour-free seat' scheme.

When booking their flight, passengers will have the chance to bid on up to three seats adjacent to their own. If the bid is successful those seats will remain empty for the whole journey. So it's possible for one passenger to have a whole row of seats to him or herself - although we don't yet know what such a luxury will cost.

etihad-plane-seats-economy

"It's impossible to give a [price] range because there are so many variable factors," said an Etihad spokesman. "What route is the plane flying? How big is the aircraft? What month? What day of the week? What time of day? How busy is the cabin?

"And then, like any auction, the bid is entirely down to the customer and how much he or she wants to offer. So there's no range or average figure as to what the consumer is prepared to pay."

Bidding passengers won't find out if they've been successful until 32 hours before the flight departs, and priority will be given to members of Etihad Guest, the airline's frequent flyer programme.