Plan ahead for your seating, meals and other considerations

Thinking about your seating, meals and other considerations when traveling is very important. Know your rights and travel smarter.

Advanced seat assignments, once always included on domestic and international flights, are now far more problematic. Many airlines will not allow passengers to make advanced seat reservations without paying an additional seat reservation fee.

This practice of not allowing free seat reservations, except for the airlines’ elite frequent fliers, is becoming the norm. Even couples purchasing “saver” tickets in business class are forced to pay a seat reservation fee to the business class fare in order to guarantee that they can sit together.

And, where in the recent past seats were released for assignment 24 hours prior to the flight, today the airlines are still trying to get passengers to purchase reserved seats as close as two hours prior to departure. This is an area where airlines are begging for more federal regulation.

Attempt to get a seat assignment prior to heading to the airport whenever seats are available without an additional seat-assignment fee.

  • The most obvious reason is to avoid sitting in the uncomfortable middle seat of a three-seat row. If passengers make their selection early they can normally get a window or aisle seat. At the gate this may be impossible.
  • If traveling with a partner, the best strategy to insure an empty seat next to you is for one of you to reserve the window seat and the other the aisle seat of the same row, toward the rear of the aircraft. This leaves the middle seat unreserved and these seats (especially those in the rear center rows) tend to be the last assigned.
  • When traveling alone, try to get a window or aisle seat in a row where another single is already assigned a window or aisle seat.

Free Travel Rights eBook – Know your seat reservation fee rights

Learn more about seat reservation fees and your rights in Travelers United’s new eBook, Travel Rights.