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9 Tips To Ensure You Get The Seat You Want And Desire On Your Next Flight

airplane seatsI was on a flight recently and there was a family of three that were not sitting together.  It was a mom and dad with a small female child (about 5-years old i think) and they all had middle seats.  It was like 9E, 10B and 10E or something similar.

So what the dad did was to sit his child in 10F next to him, then he stood up and was asking people to switch with him as he boarded.

O.K., so I sympathize with him that his family were not seated together, but that is no reason or right to take someone else’s seat.

So the lady for 10F arrived and had no where to sit.  She then rightly called a flight attendant over to help her.  The flight attendant tried to reason with the guy to take the original seats he was assigned, but he kept protesting that he had booked his trip 6 months ago and the airline changed it.  While that may or may not be true, its no reason to take someone else’s seat.

Economy Class seat back on Kingfisher Airlines Airbus A330 Mumbai to HeathrowI’m pretty sure he spoke with the gate/ticket agent who told him it was a full flight and just to take his original seats and see if someone wanted to swap.  The issue is that he has three middle seats, so he has nothing to trade.

I’m always miffed by the fact that people will make someone else uncomfortable to make themselves comfortable.  Do you understand that philosophy?

The bad thing was that I could not even help as I too had a middle seat ;-(.

So how do you avoid this from happening to you?

Now I’m not sure what happened to this guy (he said he booked his flight 6 months ago and he had seats together).

The seats on the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner at the Farnborough Airshow 2010But, here’s some insight: Airlines have what’s called schedule changes, what this means is that the flight times (departure and arrival) as well as possibly the type of plane being used may change from the time you buy your ticket to the time you board the plane.  When the aircraft type changes, the seats may change as sometimes it goes from a larger to a smaller plane and that smaller plane does not have the same seat numbers.  Or it may go from a wide-body to a narrow body (two aisles to one aisle), so now you had 33L and on the new plane 33L does not exist.

The airlines have procedures that takes care of this situation, but of course someone will get inconvenienced and it just sucks when you’re that someone.  This is the last thing the airlines want as it just create unhappy customers and makes it difficult on the airline staff.

Normally the airline will contact you either via phone or e-mail.  The issue is that sometimes there is no phone number or e-mail address in your reservation so they cannot contact you.  In these cases, you find out when you check-in online or at the airport.  At that point the flight is full and you cannot get the seats you wanted.

Economy Class of Air India's Boeing 777-300ERIf your ticket was bought through a travel agency (online or otherwise), that schedule change information is sent to your travel agency.

The issue is that when people buy tickets for a trip, they forget about it until the week of their travel.  They sometimes get a seat assigned at the time of purchase and other times they do not.

Here are some tips to follow to mitigate this situation:

  1. Join the Frequent Flyer program of your airline even if you don’t fly often – Some airlines have an option that allows frequent flyers to be notified of schedule changes automatically
  2. When you purchase your ticket from a travel agency, ensure that your frequent flyer number is in the reservation
  3. Ensure that up-to-date contact information is in your reservation
    • e-mail address
    • destination phone number
    • origin phone number
  4. If your contact information changes since the time you purchased your ticket changes, update your reservation by going to you airline’s Web site or contacting them by phone
  5. Ensure that you get seats assigned at the time of your booking; some airlines do not allow this too far out, but check the airline’s web site for this information or contact them via phone or e-mail.  Usually you can assign a seat 30-60 days before departure.  Keep checking online or via phone until you get a seat assignment you are happy with.  Seat assignments is one of the top requests the airline receives.
  6. Check on your reservation periodically between the time you bought the reservation and the time you depart
  7. Read all the communication you receive from your airline about your reservation
  8. Always verify your reservation on the airline’s web site or via phone after making the purchase regardless of whether it is on the airline’s Web site, an online agency or a brick and mortar agency.
  9. Check-in online at least 24 hours before your departure if your airline allows it.

Following these steps can mitigate the seating issues you may have for your next trip.  Plus you can get a nice stress free neck pillow to help on the trip as well.[easyazon-image-link asin=”B00170E81O” alt=”Anti-Stress Microwavable Neck Pillow 8.75″x7″” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/414C85S1FNL._SL160_.jpg” align=”left” width=”160″ height=”112″]



If you have any additional tips, please add them below.  Or if you had a seating nightmare recently, I’d like to hear about it, so please leave a comment below.

Sun coming out of clouds at sunset in Portland Oregon

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