Pardon me, this seat taken?

Tracy Stewart, May 01, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. My partner and I have used up our Frequent Flyer miles on upgrades to first class, and are looking for an alternative way to buy more space on a Philadephia/Los Angeles round-trip. Our solution would be to purchase three adjacent coach seats which would give the two of us enough room to stretch out. Since we will purchase two of the seats with credit card points, our additional cash outlay would be for the one round-trip coach seat. Much cheaper than two first class upgrades!

    How do the airlines feel about this? If any of the flights were full, would they try and put someone in our empty seat? Can I get the airline to award me the FF points for both seats? What are our risks for trying this approach?

    A. We've definitely heard of others doing this as well. And yes, a flight attendant did attempt to fill the empty seat so that another couple on board could sit together. Of course, the passenger who purchased both seats had to speak up and say so, which kind of left him looking curmudgeony and Scroogey in the eyes of the crew and fellow passengers. Wait, did that happen, or are we remembering an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Hmm...not sure. However, the point is, if you pay for two seats, you get two seats, they're yours, miles and all, end of story.

    The only risks we can imagine is if one of your booked seats were to be bumped (which does happen from time to time), or the above mentioned awkward Larry David-ish scenario. We'd suggest checking with a reservationist at your airline for a less full flight, just to avoid any kerfuffles.