The Hunt for a Better Seat

Do you ever keep looking for a better seat on a flight after you have purchased your ticket and selected a seat, provided that a choice seat wasn’t available at the time of booking? I find myself doing it frequently. In this case, I reserve the best available seat at the time of booking and continue to check the flight seating chart hoping for a better option to become available – yes, using luck as a hack strategy.

This has worked for me so far and I have been able to score better seats with just some patience. Being a frequent flier who has a 1-hour bladder, sorry I know too much information, I prefer an aisle seat with a window one as a second choice; but never a middle seat.

On a recent trip from Phoenix to Washington Dulles, connecting through Dallas FTW, I had to book my ticket within ten days of the trip and had no choice but to settle for a middle seat on my first leg Phoenix to Dallas. I really couldn’t imagine being stuck in the middle for two and a half hours. The seat I initially chose was 5B, the middle seat on the bulk-head row – which is one of those awkward rows to begin with, however it comes with extra leg room.

Within 72 hours before the flight, I began my hunt and started checking the flight seating map for open seats. Luckily I was able to move to 17D, which is an isle seat. However, it was a bit farther than where I would like to be given my short layover in Dallas and the fact that I have to switch terminals, but it is by far better than getting stuck in the middle seat staring at a wall for the duration of the flight. So I switched, and kept looking. The night before my flight I was able to score a better position; 11D, which I was happy with.

This strategy works most of the time because airlines offer complimentary first class upgrades to their elite members, who may happen to have booked economy seats in prime locations. And of course there are others who may have had a last-minute change in plans and need to change or cancel their reservations altogether.

Try it, this travel hack may work for you as well, just be aware that some airlines charge extra for certain seats. I have worked my way to a status with American Airlines that allows me to chose and switch to preferred seats at no additional cost, which is a perk I take advantage of every time I can.