Home / Airline Etiquette / Travel Tip: Which Airplane Seat Assignments Should I Choose If Two People Are Traveling?

Travel Tip: Which Airplane Seat Assignments Should I Choose If Two People Are Traveling?

Here’s a dilemma: Which airplane seat assignments should I choose if two people are traveling?
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisle and Window on a single aisle airplane
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisle and Window on a single aisle airplane
And the answer is….
“Assign an aisle and a window seat or two aisles if in the center of the plane or aisles across or aisles behind each other.”
The likelihood of the middle seat being taken is much lower than if you had taken the window and the middle, the middle and the aisle or the aisle and the middle.
Of course there are many different configurations of airplanes. So just adjust based on the answer above to the airplane in question.
If you’ve ever looked at the seatmap of a flight that’s going to a honeymoon destination or a beach destination that couples frequent, you will notice that the middle and the aisles or the middle and the windows are taken. That’s ’cause the couples want to sit next to each other; its the cuddle factor :-). Which is fine of course. However, you could get the row to yourselves if you took the aisle and the window seats :-).
 
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisles and middle if sitting in the middle of the plane with four or five seats
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisles and middle if sitting in the middle of the plane with four or five seats
If there are four seats in the middle its a little different, but leave the seat between the two of you empty or take the two aisles.
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisles behind each other
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisles behind each other
Or choose aisles behind each other.
Travel Tip: Which Seat - Aisle across from each other
Travel Tip: Which Seat – Aisle across from each other
Or aisles across from each other.
 
In all cases when someone shows up for that middle seat, just give them the aisle or the window since talking across them is really in poor taste.
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisle and Aisle if sitting in the middle
Travel Tip: Which Seat- Aisle and Aisle if sitting in the middle
 
I was just on a flight where the couple talked across me in the middle seat the whole time. I could even hear them talking while I dosed in the middle. They even passed the Time magazine across me.
I was also on a flight from Sydney, Australia (SYD) to Vancouver, BC Canada (YVR), a 14 hour and 20 minutes flight on a Boeing 777-200LR. The agent told the couple with the only empty seat on the plane between them that the seat will be taken would they like to sit together. They said no. So I got the middle seat. Which is fine by the way.
When I got on the plane, the flight attendant saw the situation and asked if they wanted to sit next to each other; they said no as they won’t speak to each other for the entire flight. Wrong! During the flight, they passed money, receipts, magazines, comments, immigration forms, you name it, they passed it over me. I guess I should have said something, but I was so tired I slept most of the way.
So don’t be a bad passenger, you can’t have it your way all the time.
 
What say you? What have you found in your travels?

10 thoughts on “Travel Tip: Which Airplane Seat Assignments Should I Choose If Two People Are Traveling?

  1. Uh oh. Mr. Excitement (aisle) and I (window) are the couple that might pass an immigration form across the guy/gal in the middle seat (as politely as possible, but we don’t talk—because Mr. Excitement can and does sleep on planes and I don’t. If we pass a snack, we only do so if the person in the middle is awake and we always offer to share with that person. Actually, I might end up chatting some to the person in the middle (NOT IF THEY’RE TRYING TO SLEEP, READ, or WORK) while Mr. E. snoozes. This technique frequently used to result in an empty seat between us, but that happens much less frequently now that planes fly so full. On our last internationals flights (to and from Madrid), in a 2-4-2 configuration, there were no twos together (AA somehow “lost” our seat assignments), so I chose a row of 4 within the last 4 rows of the plane and we picked the aisle seats on each end of a row of four. Even thought the flight to Madrid was pretty full, no one was seated between us going or coming.

    1. Hiya Suzanne,

      I’ve had the cordial couple as well, but that’s rare :-). I’ve also had the couple where you’d think we were all traveling together by the time we got off the plane :-).

      You really lucked out on that Madrid flight wowza!

      I’m going to do another piece on seat assignments as its a pretty big deal. When I started working for Delta, five of the 10 days of my initial training was spent on learning how the seatmaps and changes worked as its the most frequent thing that was asked back then. People are pretty particular about where they sit and frequently ask for a change. This was in the ’90s before all these Apps and Website where you could make all those changes yourself :-).

      Kerwin.

        1. Suzanne,

          I rarely check seatguru except when I’m doing other research; I always check the airline’s Web site. I typically know the “good” seats anyways, its the geek in me and having flow a lot of different airlines. So can’t vouch for its accuracy. I know they do a good job of keeping things up-to-date based on user feedback.

          Kerwin.

  2. How do the Airlines fill the seats within the last week before departure date. It used to be if you didn’t purchase 30 days before you paid top dollar. I went on a cruise out of SEA and checked with the airline 7 days before the flight 60 empty seats.when I returned over sold and no flight cancellations involved?

    1. I wonder if they had 2 way undersold flights and cancelled one and consolidated. Our friends at US Airways used to do that regularly. Now, they’re our friends at American. Meet the new airline Same as the old airline.. 😉

      1. That’s possible, but not likely. Usually the crews and the airplane is needed on the other side of the trip. Cancellations really messes up the whole system for both passengers and the airlines.
        Cancelling a flight is the very last thing an airline wants to do. It is really costly!

        Kerwin.

    2. It’s all done through automation William. There’s a sophisticated program that determines how many seats to sell and at what price. They may even have last minute deals too. If you subscribe to their emails you may get a notification with specific routes that they call weak markets.

      And sometimes, they do re-protection from other flights that are delayed or from other airlines. Other airlines’ passengers won’t usually cause overbooking since they would need a confirmed seat, but it does happen since typically they book more seats than the airplane holds and if the availability shows positive, a confirmation seat will be given.

      Also, sometimes the airplane is downgraded to one that has fewer seats due to operational issues. So a lot can and do happen as you experienced within those last 7 days. They don’t want empty flights at all.

      Trust me, overbooked flights are not fun and its not what the airlines want as they have to solicit volunteers so as not to get fined by the DOT for involuntary denied boardings. You can read how Virgin Atlantic handles it here – http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/us/en/travel-information/customer-service/us-denied-boarding.html. But I digress a bit :-).

      Overbooking is necessary for some airlines as people no show for flights and there are also what’s called misconnections. So people get stuck in Immigration and Customs at the hubs.

      I hope this helps to give you some idea of what goes on…
      Thanks for your question.

      Kerwin.

  3. One time I tried upgrading into First Class on AA- was told I had a good chance for the last seat bc the guy ahead of me was travelling with his wife … Nope. He took the First Class seat and left his wife in coach!

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