When you purchase your flight, you could simply pay a lot of money to book a good airline seat. Of course, most airlines charge you to select a seat in advance. And prices for choosing your own seat in advance seem to be on the rise.
Recently, I was flying from Miami to Lisbon and TAP Portugal Airlines wanted $57 for me to choose a good seat. I decided not to pay.
Does that mean I was stuck with a bad seat?
Not at all. If you don’t want to dish out a bunch of money, there’s definitely still hope for you to book a good airline seat.
The second option…
I’m going to use another example of a recent flight I took.
Washington Dulles Airport to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines (A330-300 airplane)
Since I didn’t feel like paying another $50+ for a seat in advance, I waited until 12 hours before the flight departure time to check-in. At this point, Turkish Airlines, like many airlines, allowed me to choose a seat for free.
Upon checking in, however, the seat chart showed only 3 available seats for me to choose from. And to no surprise, the 3 available seats were all in the middle of the middle section, way in the back, in the last three rows. This is quite common to have the worst seats on the plane appear as the only options.
At first, you might think these are indeed the only seats available and that you must choose one. So, you’ll end up choosing what you think is the ‘least worst’ of these terrible seats.
But…try this instead:
A Simple Trick to Book a Good Airline Seat
- Don’t choose one of the seats
- Keep the app/website open to the seat chart
- Refresh the page or revisit the seat chart every few minutes
- You’ll start to notice that new seats will suddenly become available for you to choose
- Keep doing this until a really good seat is available
- Choose it, complete the check-in process and you’re good to go
How does this work?
When you go to check in 12 hours before your flight (or any time before your flight), there is no way that every passenger has chosen or been assigned a seat. Too many travelers don’t check in until they get to the airport and too many travelers wait until a few hours before the flight to check in online. Therefore, those people won’t have an assigned seat until they do check in.
As a result, when you check in online, the airline will try to force you to choose a crappy seat on the plane, hoping to fill up those seats with people who actually choose them. This is good for the airline as it leaves better seats available in case they need to move people around or resolve a situation by offering a passenger a good seat.
But, if you keep refreshing the seat chart, during that time, other people will start checking in online and choosing their seats. The chances are extremely high that other passengers will choose those crappy seats, thinking that they are the only seats available.
Then, once those crappy seats have been selected by other passengers checking in online, new seats will become available, because again, all of the seats have yet to be assigned. Once those few new seats are selected by other passengers, other seats will become available and so on, until a couple of hours before the flight when everyone has checked in.
With the example above, I refreshed the seat chart every 5 minutes for about 30 minutes. During that time, the available seats for me to choose from changed as the less desirable seats were filled by others.
I’m quite picky when I fly long distances. I really want to have an aisle seat in the middle section, close to the front of the plane. It’s just my thing.
After 30 minutes of refreshing, boom! Seat 19D was suddenly available, exactly what I prefer, and I grabbed it.
I then finished the check in process and was on my way, in a great seat.
Had I chosen one of those original 3 terrible seats, I would have been stuck in the last rows, in between two other passengers, right next to the bathroom, for 10.5 hours. And it would have been because I fell for the trick airlines play to get me to choose those unfortunate seats.
Don’t fall for the trick. Follow the above and you should get your desired seat, most of the time at least.
Want to learn how I booked 13 flights around the world for $2200?