Score Better Seats For Holiday Travel

Oftentimes, just booking a flight during the holidays is enough to give you the blues. So why not try to make your trip as comfortable as possible by making sure you get a decent seat?

Over at, they just posted their annual list of 5 Ways To Score Better Airplane Seats For Holiday Travel. Here’s one we found helpful:

Watch Those Seating Maps:
“Most major carriers start bumping their favorite flyers up to the front days in advance–sometimes up to five days before takeoff–so you need to start checking the available seats when these upgrades are processed. If an aisle seat opens up near the front thanks to an upgrade for someone else, it can become yours. Persistence is key here, so remember to check early and often. It worked for us last week!”

Check out the entire list at Jaunted.


Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says: is a good resource if you’re super picky about your seat and don’t fly so often you’ve got each plane’s seating chart memorized.

  2. jdmba says:

    I will change flights based on seats … won’t book in the back (thanks to the overuse of carry ons, particularly strollers, and the resulting wait as hundreds of sloths get around to re situating themselves for exit). If I didn’t get that front aisle seat to begin with, I wouldn’t be on the plane.

    • nbs2 says:

      Except that strollers are required to be gate-checked. Additionally, back of the plane seats are more likely to have overhead space since Dirt boards from back to front (either by row or zone, depending on airline). The only advantage you have if you are in the front of the aircraft is if you have status or kids.

      • KyleOrton says:

        Why are people so obsessed with boarding early? Do you really want to spend an extra 30 min on the plane as people brush past you? I have rewards status on a few airlines that allows me to board whenever I want and I’m still the last guy on.

        • s73v3r says:

          I’ve found that the sooner I get on the plane, the more likely I am to get space in an overhead storage bin close to my seat.

        • gman863 says:

          On airlines with assigned seats, douchebags sometimes have this funny habit of trying to change seats without permission and then try to give a “squatters rights” sob story when busted prior to takeoff.

          Many flight attendants will ask the person who actually has the seat assignment if they wouldn’t mind taking the squatter’s assigned seat (presumably to avoid a scene).

          I fell for this shit twice. Once I ended up next to Shamu (fat rolls falling over into my seat), the other next to Damian (I’m not sure if the kid had “666” on his head; he just acted like it).

          The moral: I board early…and, if someone’s attempting squatter’s rights on my assigned seat, I’ll do everything short of having the TSA kick me off the flight to force the flight attendants to move the motherf*cker back to their assigned seat,

  3. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    I just use all my work miles to get Elite/Silver/Gold/Awesome status with as many airline groups as possible and leverage that to get better seats.

    So far it’s worked… okay. Bah.

  4. FatLynn says:

    They forgot my favorite, “Hobble to the gate on a pair of crutches, even if both your legs are in perfect working order”.

  5. ma1234 says:

    The problem: most elite fliers are in preferred seats that non-elite fliers cannot select until gate check-in.

    So when a top tier flier is upgraded 100 hours in advance, his seat does free up – for a mid-tier flier to take it, not some nobody who flies once every three years.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Honestly, as someone who spends tens of thousands of dollars a year on Star Alliance (mostly,) I don’t see what’s so wrong with this.

      • ma1234 says:

        There is nothing wrong with that. I am Platinum on AA and it’s a good perk when my upgrades don’t clear, I can at least try for a better coach seat. That’s how it should be – the article, like most articles here, is wrong and misleading.

  6. FatLynn says:

    Oh, also, I like the row right behind the exit row on international flights, because that way when someone says they can’t follow instructions in English, I can be the first to yell out “Oh, I’ll switch!”

    • Geekybiker says:

      I must be the only person who doesn’t like the exit row. Seats are narrower due to the tray tables in the arms. Width is a precious commodity in coach, and I’m not tall enough to worry about leg room much.

  7. apd09 says:

    Stay far, FAR away from the last row of seats before the exit row, they will not recline because if there is an emergency the seat could get stuck down and block the exit. Same thing goes if there are 2 exit rows, stay away from the 1st exit row, you may get more room but your seat is not going anywhere.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I don’t remember the last time I reclined my seat without an empty seat behind me. I’m not that tall, so leg room isn’t a huge issue. Planes are so crammed full that reclining can be hazardous to your health.

  8. tbax929 says:

    The best seat for me on holidays is in my living room. I am so glad I now live close enough to family that I don’t have to travel on holidays any more!

  9. gman863 says:

    If you fly Southwest, here are a few tips for getting in the first two boarding groups for a better seat.

    * Online check-in starts 24 hours before departure. Southwest’s regular customers know this. Find a PC or use your cell phone to do this as soon as the 24 hour window starts. If you check in at the airport and the flight is fully booked, you’ll end up in the last boarding group.

    * At the gate, you can pay a $10 upgrade fee (per person) to get near the front of the line (right behind “special assistance” and Business Class full-fare customers). The catch is only a limited number of these are sold per flight. If your boarding pass is higher than number 50, you could end up bumped into the third (61-90) boarding group depending on how many people pay to cut the line.
    If you really want an aisle or exit row seat, it might be worth the $10. This is still cheaper than the seat premiums other major airlines charge.
    The only other catch: The $10 fee is per flight number. If you make a connection to another Southwest flight you have to pay again before the boarding begins on the second flight.

    Another free trick is to create the illusion the seat next to you is occupied. Place your under the seat bag or a coat on it. Unless someone specifically asks “Is this seat taken?” you may luck out and have the extra space if the flight isn’t full.

  10. matt314159 says:

    A few months ago, I flew jetblue from Portland to Long Beach, after my LASIK surgery. I was flying with my mom, and when checking in online the night before, there were no seats together, so it randomly assigned us separate seats. Upon arrival at the airport, I asked the agent, “I just had LASIK surgery, and I’d like my mom to be able to help me with my salve (holds up bag with goggles, drops, and cream) but we’re not assigned together, is there any way you can help us sit together?” She cheerfully upgraded us to the EML (Even More LegRoom, if I recall) seats at the front of the plane, which were the only ones with any consecutive, empty seats. Normally they cost $35 each to upgrade. I didn’t need any help at all from my mom, but I thought it would be nice to ride together, so I played the semi-medical card. I don’t see why you couldn’t fake it if you bring a ziploc baggie with some single-use eyedrop vials in it, and some sunglasses. Other than it being a sort of dick move.

  11. xspook says:

    Rule #1 with Delta. Assume the seat you have reserved will be given to someone else. No matter what. Reserving a seat with them means nothing. In 8 of my last 10 flights, I had reserved seats and once I tried to online checkin, I get a message stating I had to “request a seat” at the gate – basically fly standby. I avoid them as much as possible, but sometimes, it’s the only choice.

    • AllanG54 says:

      I have never had that problem with Delta and they’re the only airline I fly. I may have had my seat switched if they change the type of plane but have never had to check in at the gate. I fly with them three or four round trips a year…mostly to Florida but also to Europe and Hawaii and have never had a seat taken away from me.