Wednesday, July 18, 2018 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

How to Get the Best Seat on an Airplane

It’s not you. The seats on airplanes really are getting smaller. Add to this the fact that flights are consistently overbooked, and you’ll realize that you’re going to be in close quarters with a couple hundred strangers for a few hours. However, before anyone resigns themselves to a fate of sitting in front of a child who puts the tray table up and down a million times or losing out on the armrest to their seat mate, they will want to see if they can wrangle the best seat on the airplane.
 
Here are 10 helpful tips to get the best seat on an airplane:

1    Purchase Airline Tickets Early

There are only a select number of pre-assigned seats available on every flight, so people will want to purchase their tickets as early as possible to guarantee a good seat. If a person cannot buy their tickets a few weeks in advance, they will want to check-in online as soon as they can before their flight to select a seat or arrive at the airport early. Most booking sites show you seat availability before purchase. If there’s nothing left but back of the plane, middle seats, you might want to shop around for a different flight or different airline.
 
Purchase Airline Tickets Early
2    Consider Joining a Frequent Flier Program

Anyone that has a frequent flier number will want to use it when they are purchasing their tickets, because frequent fliers often get better seats. Of course, the more a person flies, the better their seat will be. Even if you don’t fly often, it is a good idea to join. Frequent flyer programs are free and usually offer additional perks beyond miles, like occasional drink coupons, early check in, better service (because they know you’re a member), and, yes, better seats.
 
Consider Joining A Frequent Flier Program
3    Purchase a Better Seat

Sadly, you do get what you pay for. Not all airplane seats are created equal. Most airlines have an option where people can choose specific seats for an extra fee. These seats often have extra legroom or are a bit roomier. The price could be worth it to many, especially for longer trips.
 
Purchase A Better Seat
4    Choose a Seat When Booking the Flight

Many airlines will allow passengers to choose their seat when they are booking their flight, however, it is not always free. This is one of the best ways to guarantee that a person gets a seat that they want. If a person does not see the seat that they are interested in, they can call the airline and speak to a customer service representative to check if any of the seats they want are actually available. Of course, it’s important to know which seats are better. There are plenty of online airline seat maps that will show you the layout and seat pitch and width of different airplanes and airlines.
 
Choose A Seat When Booking The Flight
5    Confirm Seat Assignments at Check-In

Airlines normally allow passengers to check-in for their flight twenty-four hours in advance. That is a good time for people to confirm the seat that they chose or pick a better one. It’s quite possible that a better seat than your original selection may be available. Not all seats are released for selection initially and other flyers may have switched or cancelled their flights.
 
Confirm Seat Assignments At Check In
6    Arrive at the Airport Early

No one enjoys waiting forever at the airport, but if a person arrives too late at their gate, they may find that their seat has been given to someone else. If you’re late, you may be stuck with the least desirable seat or lose your seat altogether.
 
Arrive At The Airport Early
7    Simply Ask

Once a person arrives at their gate, they can approach a ticket agent and see if any seats have opened up. This can happen when other passengers upgrade their seats or have not arrived for their flight. If seats that were designated for an upgrade price go unbooked, you may be able to score one at no extra charge.
 
Simply Ask
8    Ask for a Specific Seat

Some people know exactly which seat they want to sit in on an airplane, and everyone should take a cue from them when asking for a seat. A person who asks for a specific seat number will be more likely to get the seat that they want or a seat that is very similar. Again, knowing what type of airplane your flight is on and how the airline has configured the seating helps you to make an informed decision.
 
Ask For A Specific Seat
9    Keep Ticket Agents Informed

Ticket agents can be very understanding, especially to those who have medical conditions or a disability. If a person needs a specific seat due to their condition, they should alert the ticket agents to see if they can help. There’s no guarantee that you will be given preferential treatment, but, if they don’t know, they can’t help you.
 
Keep Ticket Agents Informed
10    Be Kind and Understanding

Ticket agents need to deal with a lot of people on a daily basis, and most of those people are not very friendly. Anyone that wants to change their seat for a better one will want to be nice to the ticket agents. They may find that they will get what they want or need much easier than if they were demanding and rude. You’re not going to bully a gate agent; they’ve dealt with unpleasant passengers many, many times before and will make it a point to not reward bad behavior.
Be Kind And Understanding
These tips will not guarantee that people will get the best seat on an airplane, but they should help ensure that the seat is not the worst. Of course, if someone does end up with a bad seat, at least they know that they won’t be stuck with it forever. They’ll have to leave it when they get off the plane and hope that they have better luck the next time.
 

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