Unlike most of the bloggers I follow who write about chasing miles and points, I don’t aspire to fly first class. I think first class is lovely and I would never turn down a free upgrade, but I’d rather suffer through a day in chattel class so that I can spend my points on two economy class trips rather than one first class trip. That’s specific to how I spend money and how much I (don’t) spend on flights. But if you are like me and mostly fly economy, you understand why I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get a decent seat in economy class.
Here are a few basic pointers that I think are pretty obvious but still I see lots of people not doing these things.
2. If you aren’t happy with your initial selection, check back every few weeks to see what has opened up.
3. Use SeatGuru to select the best possible seat. This is a great website that will tell you if there is anything bad about the seat you are looking at (limited recline, minimized space, etc.)
4. If you are two people flying together, consider the option of selecting 2 aisle seats with an empty middle seat between you (if the airplane configuration allows this). Sometimes you will get lucky and no one will be put in that middle seat, and then you get a whole row. And if someone is put in that seat, they will be very happy to swap with you for an aisle if you want to sit next to your traveling companion.
In addition to the above I have one extra step I always take that works about 25% of the time. Even though I check in online before my flights, when I get to the airport I always go to the check in machines and self-check in again. This gives me the option of changing seats. And at this point, just an hour or so before my flight, I can see the full seat availability. In my opinion the best seat is one with no one sitting next to me. And so when flying alone I often change my seat at this time to one that has an empty middle seat next to it. About 25% of the time I win and end up in an aisle seat with no one on either side.