Q. Do airlines block out a large section of seats to make it appear there are fewer seats remaining? When Alaska Airlines cancelled the final leg of our trip, we reviewed the airline website for flights returning a day before and after our original return date. None of the alternate flights offered adjoining seats. Yet, when we called Alaska, they immediately assigned us two seats together in a section that appeared to be completely filled on their website. How likely is it that we will be reassigned seats?
A. Yes, some airlines do block out seats, even if the plane is half-empty, and sometimes a call to the airline will sort things out. They do this in part to accommodate last minute business customers who are flying on higher-priced “walk up” fares, to cater to their preferred frequent travelers, and also, in some instances, to entice consumers to purchase “premium” seat assignments for a fee. Even if you end up not sitting together, it’s always possible to ask fellow passengers to trade seats. A good strategy is to offer to buy the accommodating passenger a couple of cocktails on board, or bring along some Starbucks gift cards ($10 should do the trick) as a thank-you.
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