How to get a particular seat without paying a fee

George Hobica, August 22, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. With more and more airlines charging a fee for advance seat assignments, what advice do you have if you want to avoid the fee but still want a particular seat? I travel by myself, with only carryon baggage. I prefer a window seat, in the back of the plane. Last reclining row, and NEVER over a wing (bad view). I love to get to the airport early, and am usually one of the first on the plane as I don't care how quickly I get off. What are the chances of me getting my preferred seat without paying the fee? And what are the chances if I want a more popular seat (bulkhead aisle)? Even saving ten dollars helps, even if I just get to park a little closer :)

    A. Well luckily, most people don't want seats near the last row, so you may not have that much competition. Did you know that seats over the wing tend to experience less turbulence? And most people want to be at the front of the plane so they can get out quicker, or they want exit rows, which are often over the wings. It really depends on how full your flight is. Remember, too, that if you're a loyal frequent flyer, with some airlines you may get precedence in seat selection, no matter how much you pay for your flight. So it pays to fly the same airline exclusively.