This airline is starting a lottery to entice people to take the middle seat, with $145,000 in prizes

October 25, 2022, 3:47 PM UTC
A man looking unhappy sitting in the middle seat of an airplane.
Virgin Australia’s new lottery may lure passengers to the otherwise dreaded middle seat.
Peter Cade—Getty Images

Whether they’re frequent fliers or occasional travelers, there’s one thing airline passengers agree on: The middle seat is the worst.

There’s no view, no easy access to stretch your legs and never, ever any armrest space. But Virgin Australia is looking to change that, kicking off a lottery that gives people who occupy that spot—willingly or unwillingly—the chance to win part of a prize pool worth $145,000.

“Virgin Australia is an airline that’s doing things differently, and we are having a lot of fun coming up with exciting innovations to make every part of the travel experience more wonderful,” said Jayne Hrdlicka, chief executive officer of Virgin Australia Group, in a press release.

The airline kicked off the promotion with an even bigger surprise award for middle seat passengers Tuesday: All received a ticket for a free Virgin Voyages cruise (worth over $350,000).

The lottery will run through April 23, 2023, with one winner per week. Prizes will include platinum frequent-flier status (with 1 million points); a six-night Caribbean cruise; and a helicopter pub crawl. (The full list of prizes can be found here.)

The promotion is a celebration of sorts for Virgin Australia, which is emerging from a 24-month turnaround that the airline says has seen it return to profitability after it was purchased by Bain Capital. Among the changes at the carrier are a $300 million reduction in annual costs and a price restructuring to better appeal to passengers.

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