Q. I have noticed the last few times I have booked flights they don't have seats for my husband and me to sit together. Is this something new? How can I book flights online and make sure we can sit together?

A. What you’re experiencing is a relatively new practice. Flights are more crowded than ever thanks to capacity cuts and route eliminations, and airlines are holding back advanced seat assignments and “priority” seats for their best customers (those paying higher fares, booking at the last minute or “elite” frequent flyers) or those willing to pay for them. As a result, other passengers are finding it harder to find seats together. Once you get to the airport, or once you’re on board, you can try to find seats together either by asking the gate or check-in agent to reassign you, by asking other passengers to switch seats with you, or by paying for a “premium” seat assignment. You’ll also increase your chances of finding a seat together if you book far in advance. Another option is to pay the $12.50 fee levied by Southwest Airlines, which doesn’t offer seat assignments at all, to get “early bird check in.” This gives you a better chance of boarding the aircraft sooner than most other passengers, which means you’re more likely to get a seat together. 

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