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How to get good airline seats

Traveling is supposed to be fun and relaxing, but getting to and from your destination via airplane can sometimes be more than you bargained for. Next time you fly, reduce some of the stress by getting better airline seats without spending a fortune.

Happy woman in airport

You’ve probably noticed that while it’s possible to find good airline prices, it’s not always possible to find good airline seats. You score a deal on the tickets, but wind up cramped in a middle seat with your family members randomly spread out throughout the plane. If you have small children, this is not an option, since they need adult supervision. When this happens, the airline often forces you to pay more money to get the luxury of sitting together, thereby negating the good deal on the tickets. Next time you fly, utilize these tips to get better airline seats for you and your family!

Book as early as possible

Tip: Before booking, check seat availability. If nothing good is left, you may want to choose a different flight.

We know, sometimes plans arise last minute and you have to book just a few weeks (or less) in advance, but when possible, always book early. Booking early means you’ll have choices when it comes to choosing your seats. If everyone likes the aisle seats, give everyone an aisle in rows as close to each other as possible. As with anything, the more you plan ahead, the better off you’ll be.

Check the flight daily

If you only have one option as far as the flight is concerned (or if you’ve already booked your flight), check the flight daily to see if other seats have become available. Plans change, business meetings get cancelled and some passengers decide to fly first-class. Use this to your advantage in getting the seats you want!

Check the flight 24 hours before departure

This is typically when online check-in starts and better seats become available. We recommend being ready to go 15-20 minutes before this begins. If you get online to check in even 10 minutes after the online check-in has begun, you’re chances of getting an ideal seat are drastically reduced.

Arrive early to check in

Some airlines, such as Southwest, seat passengers based on a first-come, first-served basis. This is where it pays to be early! Arriving at your gate early gives you the chance to be at the front of the line and claim your seat. If you’re really picky about your seat, you can pay extra to board the plane before everyone else.

A few extra tips

  • Decide what’s most important to you when traveling. If comfort on the plane ranks high, consider spending the extra money to upgrade to a better seat and stay at a less-expensive hotel instead.
  • Bring things to do on the plane. Bring a book, watch a movie or read a magazine. If your mind is occupied, you’re less likely to be thinking about how cramped and uncomfortable you are.
  • Try to relax. If you really don’t want to spend the extra time or money fighting for the perfect seat, take what you get and relax! Most flights within the U.S. are only a few hours, so take a little nap and you’ll be there before you know it.

More on air travel

The daddy packhorse: Tips for air travel with kids
5 Simple ways to reduce the stress of air travel
How to travel with an infant

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