A lot goes into booking a flight, from making sure you get the best price available to keeping your luggage under the airline’s weight limit.
Yet, just as important is where you are seated because that can make or break your flight experience, and you don’t want to get stuck on a flight for hours with a terrible seat – especially the dreaded middle seat.
That’s why I’ll show you a few helpful tricks you can use to ensure you get the absolute best seat possible.
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How do I know where to sit on my flight?
There are helpful apps and websites that you can use to view available seats on a particular flight. People who have previously flown on the plane you’re looking at can rate their overall flight experience, including how good or bad their seat was.
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My personal favorites are the website SeatGuru and the app Seat Alerts, which is available for Apple devices. SeatGuru gives you seat reviews to learn which are the worst to avoid. Seat Alerts will notify you when a better seat becomes available on an upcoming flight. Here’s how they work.
How to use SeatGuru
- Go to the SeatGuru website at seatguru.com
- Then enter the specific flight you are interested in with the airline, date, and flight number
Homepage of SeatGuru’s website.
- Select View map to look at the aircraft you will be flying on
Display of "view map" on SeatGuru’s website.
- A map of your aircraft will appear and let you know which seats are good and which are bad. If you hover over a particular seat, you will get a little description of what that seat is like including how much legroom you have, whether the seat reclines or not, and more
Example of an aircraft showing which seats are good or bad and a description of the type of seat you can choose from.
- You can also look at the Seat map key to differentiate what the various seat colors mean
Display of the seat map to show you what each color means.
- Book your seat through the app or on the airline’s website. It’s important to note that the availability of Seat Guru features may vary depending on the airline.
Another seat source called Seat Alerts will send you a notification when a better seat becomes available.
How to use the Seat Alerts app and site
- Download Seat Alerts app from the Apple App Store
- Open the app and follow the onscreen directions to create a free account
- You can also get similar access to Seat Alerts through its parent site ExpertFlyer.com. It’s free to set one seat alert at a time via the website or 99 cents for a seat alert on the app. Those who sign on for the monthly or annual pro subscription at expertflyer.com can set an unlimited amount of seat alerts to notify you when a better seat comes open.
- Log into your account and select Create Seat Alert
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Display of how to use the Seat Alerts app.
- Enter your flight information, including your departing and landing destinations, the date of your flight, airline, flight number and cabin. Then press Search
Flight information example using Seat Alerts.
- Set alerts for seats you want to be notified about by toggling on the options you want
You can set alerts to be notified about seats you may want.
- The map will highlight the seats that work best for you according to what you chose. Press Save when done
Example of the highlighted seats chosen on the map based on information provided.
- The seat alert on the app costs 99 cents to purchase. Enter your name and select purchase. You can also check off the Send me a test alert email box if you’d like to see what a real alert would look like.
Display of the test alert email. The seat alert costs 99 cents.
Pro-tip on potentially accessing blocked seats
When you see a seat on the map with a white X through it, that means the airline is blocking that seat. In many cases, blocked seats that remain unassigned on the day of departure can become accessible for some passengers. It never hurts to ask the gate agent if they are willing to give you that seat if it improves your location on the plane and is still available when you get to the gate.
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Have airline status and awaiting an upgrade?
ExpertFlyer can show how many seat upgrades are available. Often, U.S. domestic carriers hold off releasing complimentary upgrades that come along with status until near departure time.
When trying for an upgrade, I use ExpertFlyer.com to look at the flight loads and for aircraft with ample room up front at the time I purchase a ticket. I at least stand a better chance at an upgrade knowing there are unsold premium seats.
Either way, enjoy your flight in the best way you can while seated in the best row possible.
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