How To Get the Best Airplane Seat On Your Flight

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Not everyone is a Diamond Medallion or an Executive Platinum member, so for those who are stuck in coach and are wondering how to how get the best seat on the plane, here are a few strategies that may work the next time you’re flying and stuck with a less than desired seat in coach.


Per this Business Insider article, here are some ways to get the best seats:

Book your flight far in advance
The earlier you book your flight, the more seats that are available. If you book a last-minute flight, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with only middle seats available — which is the worst scenario.

Reserve directly with the airline
When you book directly with the airline, you’ll be entitled to select the seat you want. However, when you book through a third-party site like Expedia or Orbitz, you may not be able to select your seat.

Consult SeatGuru to find the seat that has the most legroom keeps track of seating charts for every single flight.

Simply input your airline and flight number and an interactive seating map will pop up.

The site will give you insider information on the best seats, including tips on which rows have more legroom, which rows don’t recline, and which seats are closest to the bathroom.

Select your seat strategically
If you have a preference for a window or aisle seat, obviously you should book your preferred seat, but remember that the middle seats are always the last seats to be reserved.

If I’m flying with my husband and there are three seats in a row, we always book the window and aisle seat. The middle seats are almost always the last seats to get booked. So chances are that if the flight isn’t full, we’ll have the whole row to ourselves. And even if there is someone in the middle, they’ll likely be more than happy to switch with one of us as no one wants to sit in the middle seat.

Decide when it’s worth paying for more legroom
Some airlines charge more for premium seats in coach. Costs can vary, but if it’s only another $50 for significantly more room and you’re taking a five-hour flight, it’s probably worth paying the extra money for more space. But if it’s several hundred dollars more for a two-hour flight, it may not be worth it.

Ask the gate agent if there’s a free seat in the exit row or bulkhead row
Airlines often hold the exit-row seats — which have the most legroom — to make sure that only qualified fliers sit there. (You must be 16 or over, willing and able to help in an emergency, and speak the language of the flight attendants in order to sit in the exit row.) That means that if you get to the airport early enough, there’s a good chance that there may be open seats in the exit row.

The bulkhead row — the first row behind the cabin wall — also has a lot of legroom. And these seats may be held as well to accommodate families with small children who need more space.

Be polite to the gate agent and dress up
It helps if you’re a frequent flier who’s loyal to the airline, but if you dress the part and are polite to the gate agent, he or she may just upgrade you to first or business class. A little courtesy can go a long way.

Bottom Line

A lot of these seem like common sense, but maybe you learned a new trick or two. How many of these strategies have you tried before? Feel free to comment below.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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  1. When we are able to fly either Business or First Class, we book two aisle seats across from each other. This gives us both access to get up and stretch during the flight.

  2. the dress nicely thing is BS. Not sure why it is always reported. When, as an elite on Delta, I am number 50+ for upgrade, a suit isn’t helping. Also, DL and others now offer buy ups if not full, so free upgrades to F/J are unlikely.

    However, a big hint that is often not shown is that some blocked seats become available at exactly 24 hours prior to departure.

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