Ooh the dreaded middle seat. You aren’t the only who hates getting stuck in between two strangers. When checking in for my flight the other day I used some tricks to get the best possible coach seat and since I’ve never divulged these tricks in a single post, here’s how you can get a mini upgrade. Just don’t use them on a flight that I’m on.
1. Get elite status. Acquiring elite status is by far the easiest way to secure the best possible coach seat(s). That’s because most airlines only allow their frequent fliers to sit in the highly sought after rows. Attaining elite status is not that difficult especially for business travelers. Usually you just need to fly 25,000 actual air miles in a calendar year on one particular airline or its partners.
Tip: To maximize elite status stick to one airline and its partners. Be sure not to throw out your boarding passes until the miles have posted.
2. Keep checking. Even if you are a frequent flier and you book a ticket last-minute (like I usually do) chances are that the golden seats will be gone. But don’t fret because the good seats will still open up – I can almost guarantee it. The trick is just to keep checking your reservation and seat chart every hour or so because the best seats are usually being reserved by frequent fliers and they will either be upgraded to business class or one of them will cancel.
I usually begin checking a few days before departure until I get the seat I want. For example, I was able to get an exit row window seat a few days before this flight but I prefer an aisle. I know beggars can’t be choosers but instead of printing my boarding pass 24 hours in advance I waited until just a few hours because once you check-in you can’t change your seat until you get to the airport and I had a feeling the aisle might open up. And you know what – it did and that’s where I’m writing this post to you from now. How do you like them apples?!
3. Set an alert. If you don’t have time to keep checking your reservation then set a seat alert with ExpertFlyer.com. They don’t charge for a single seat alert but if you want more at once, you can buy more Seat Alerts for only 99 cents each or sign up for a Basic or Premium account, which starts at $4.99 per month.
4. Pay Extra. Most airlines will allow you to upgrade your coach seat. Just make sure you are getting something for your money like more legroom because some airlines (ahem, American) charge just to be towards the front of the cabin with no extra anything. Don’t be fooled.
5. Be friendly. One of the best ways to get a great coach seat for free is to be super friendly to the gate agents (I usually bring them a box of chocolates) and kindly request if they upgrade any of the frequent fliers to give you their plush coach seat (they are usually booked in the exit row or bulkhead).
6. Use Seat Guru/Seat Expert. To find out which seats are the best on a particular aircraft go to SeatGuru.com or SeatExpert.com. They highlight in green which ones are the best seats and list exactly how much legroom and pitch each one has. They also inform you if there are power ports or personal TVs. Keep in mind airlines can change aircraft types at the last minute so there are no guarantees.
As you can see it sometimes does take time to get the best seat on the plane but having extra space or legroom can make or break your trip. Let me know in the comments below if these tips helped or if you have any tricks up your sleeve that I missed.