Ten Strategies for Getting the Best Airplane Seats Available

6. Join a Miles Club: I'll admit the evidence here is anecdotal, but some folks who don't fly often (but are nevertheless savvy travelers) have told me that when they make reservations without being "a member of the club," they get offered the worst possible seat selection. Then, after they join and go back to view their seat options, suddenly aisles and windows are available. I'd say it's worth a try.

Fly in Comfort

7. Buy Two Seats: This is applies to what airlines call "customers of size," and it's good advice if you'd like to avoid a scene at the gate, or getting your photo plastered all over the Internet showing half your bulk spilling into the aisle. Many airlines try to accommodate big guys and gals by placing them next to an empty seat at no extra charge, but capacity cuts have done away with most of them. Avoid the hassle and just buy two seats. Yes, it's more expensive but you won't have to worry about anyone recognizing you as "the guy in that photo on that American flight."

8. Fly the Right Plane: US Airways recently announced it's switching planes on its New York to Boston commute. The new aircraft, the Embraer 190, is a 2-2 configuration, meaning, no middle seats! As you look for flights, keep checking with SeatGuru to see the layouts of the planes you may be flying.

9. Wait for Elites to Upgrade: Some airlines allow their elite miles members to begin upgrading to first or business class as early as five days before departure; I think you can count on some of them leaving window and aisle seats behind, so nab them. Start checking for seats five days out, and keep checking them right on up to your departure.

Coach Seat Space

10. Last Resort: You can always try the Knee Defender -- the funny little gadget that prevents the guy in front of you from reclining his seat. Warning: many flight attendants have no appreciation whatsoever for the magical properties of Knee Defender and have been known to confiscate it.

Finally, let's dispel a myth: no, it doesn't matter how nice you look or how well dressed you are -- only elite miles members will be considered for upgrades to first or business class, and frankly, the crew doesn't care how scuzzy they look.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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