Everyone wants the best airplane seat possible, whether it’s the exit row, the window seat in the bulkhead row, or any aisle seat in Economy Plus. But there are only a limited number of those kinds of seats, and you have to be pretty on the ball to get them. The important thing to remember is that every passenger in every seat will arrive at the destination at the same time, so even if you don’t get your best seat, you’ll still get there.
That said, here are a few tips from the smart travelers at Smarter travel on getting the best airplane seat for your particular travel preference.
The easiest way to get a great seat is to join a frequent flyer loyalty program, and be sure to mention it when you make a reservation. Even if you only fly once in a while, loyalty program members get a preference over non-members.
Another way to get a good seat is to buy your ticket early, because there are a limited number of pre-assigned seats. Remember, the early bird gets the worm, or at least the better seat. If you buy your seat on the airline’s website, you can often select your seat; buying seats on a third-party reseller won’t let you.
You can also upgrade your seat to the Economy Plus level. It costs a little more, depending on the duration of the flight, but you can select your seat when you book your ticket, even three months in advance.
If you can’t buy your seat in advance, check into your flight on the airline’s mobile app or website at the soonest possible time: 24 hours before departure. Depending on your airline, you may be able to select your seat as soon as you check in. Set an alarm so you check in right at 23:59:59 to make sure you get your seat.
If all else fails, ask at the gate when you arrive at the airport or when you check in at the front desk. (Hint: Except don’t check in at the front desk. Check your bags with the Sky Cap outside— tip $2 per bag — and then check in at the self-serve kiosks.)
Once you reach the gate, ask the gate agent if they can provide you with a better seat. Know exactly which seat you’re interested in, and ask for it. Maybe you can’t be too specific, but asking for “any aisle seat” or “any window seat” might pay off.
Finally, tell the ticket agent or gate agent if you’re traveling with children or have a medical issue that might require you to travel with a companion.
And above all, be courteous. You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, and if you’re extra nice to the gate agent, they may find an even better upgrade for you later.
How do you choose your best airplane seat? What strategies have worked for you? Tell us about them on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.