There’s a reason airline frequent flyer programs allow you to put in your seat preference into your accounts. There’s also another reason why the only two options are either 1) Aisle or 2) Window.
That’s because the third option, the middle seat, sucks.
If you can’t get in first class and don’t want to spend the extra money for the extra legroom in economy, the absolute worst case scenario for you is getting stuck in the middle seat. You’ll be cramped, fighting for arm rests, possibly having to weasel away from one or both of your seat-mates on either side of you when they fall asleep and inadvertently rest their head on you.
So, how do you avoid getting the middle seat?
Follow the following guidelines and hopefully you’ll never get stuck in the middle.
Be Sure To Select Your Seat Directly After You Book
Some airlines charge you to select your seat when your flight is over 24 hours away however most US based airlines don’t. Before choosing your seat, be sure to consult SeatGuru, a site created to help flyers choose the best seat on any given airline for any given flight. They’ll provide you with the aircraft and seat layout for your flight, show you which seats to seek and which to avoid. Best of all – it’s FREE!
If your airline wants to charge you to select a seat, give the airline a call and ask nicely to waive the fee. Feel free to make up a story as well. Something like “I just had surgery and need to stretch my legs in flight” should be sufficient. My dad uses this excuse constantly to get seated in the bulkhead seats. Believe it or not, it works. Even when the seats are already taken.
Check Your Reservation Daily
If the seat you want isn’t available at the time of booking, don’t give up. Check back everyday. People’s plans often change and end up canceling. You can even set up seat alerts at ExpertFlyer. They’ll alert you when your desired seat becomes available. Once it does, log on or call the airline at grab it!
Arrive Early And Kindly Ask The Gate Agent
As I said above, my Dad has been using the “I just had surgery” excuse ever since I can remember. It is certainly possible to get your seat changed just minutes before booking. All you need to do is be kind to the gate agent. They aren’t all completely incompetent and rude. Let them know you have bad knees or a bad back and you need to get up frequently during the flight. Being in the middle will make that difficult, not to mention a headache for the passenger possessing the aisle seat!