· Don’t Pick A Seat:
We’ve booked plenty of flights where we get that dreaded message about our seat being assigned at the airport. However, it might not necessarily be a bad thing. Even if there are open seats available when you look online be sure to resist the urge to pick out one that isn’t up to your standards. Often the bulkhead rows—or other halfway decent seats—are only assigned by the agent working at the gate. This means that instead of selecting something sub-par in advance, there’s a chance that infinite legroom can become yours thanks to a little bit of seat gambling.
· Check With The Kiosk:
Plenty of airlines have kiosks within the terminal, and some of them are even located right near the gate. Be sure to take another look following check-in to see if any new seats have become available. You don’t have to deal with the sometimes-surly gate agent to do so, and you can check as often as you want without aggravating anyone but yourself. We’ve done this on a Delta flight before, and someone must have relocated since we initially checked in at the ticket counter. Even if it’s just an aisle seat, it can feel like an upgrade when you’re expecting a non-reclining middle seat for a transcontinental flight.
· Bring Your Credit Card:
Airlines like United have been charging a fee for their Economy Plus seating for quite some time, but in the past year other airlines have begun to only assign the better seats once you’re willing to part with a little more cash. American Airlines offers seats towards the front of the economy cabin for an extra fee, and these “Express Seats” might be an option if you need a little extra room to mentally prepare yourself for an extended visit with your family. Continental also started charging for exit row seating this year, so that’s another option if don’t mind spending a little bit extra.
· Ask For The Bump:
You have to be a little flexible with this option, so request a late check-in on the sleeper sofa at Grandma’s house. With flights packed from the seats to the overhead bins there might be a chance to score a bump onto a later flight. Get to the gate early—like when the agent first gets there—and volunteer that you’re flexible with your plans. You’ve got a decent shot of scoring some travel vouchers for the future, a possible upgrade to first class for your new flight, or at least a better seat than the one you currently have. Kindness goes a long way here—be sure to approach the counter with a smile—and know what you’re looking for in advance.