If finding the best seat in coach feels like searching for a needle in a haystack, here's some good news: It's easier than you think. Here's how to snag a coach-class seat that's both comfortable and affordable.
Book Less Popular Flights
Flights that are scheduled during peak times are more likely to sell out, which can decrease your likelihood of getting the best seat in coach. Whenever possible, book flights on days with less traffic—such as Tuesday or Wednesday—and also choose less popular flight times. This will give you the advantage of having more flexibility when you choose your seat assignment.
Select the Best Seat You Can When You Book
The best seat for you may not always be the best seat for someone else. Consider your own personal preferences when you book your flight, and select your seat based on that criteria. If you like to have an empty seat next to you, choose a seat toward the back of the plane. If you like to get off the flight first, select a seat in one of the front rows.
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Remember that Better Seats May Become Available
Right up until you check into the flight, seating assignments and arrangements can change. If you weren't able to snag your first choice of seat right when you booked, you can continue checking the assignments regularly online to look for openings. Sometimes the seat you want will appear and you can grab it.
Know Where Not to Sit
While you're busy searching for the best seat in coach, you'll want to keep track of the worst places to sit on the plane, too. Don't get too excited by that exit row seat next to the door, for example. You will have extra leg room, but you may have to sacrifice the room above your head.
You may start looking at the back of the plane in hopes of getting an empty seat next to you, but definitely avoid the row in front of the bathroom. You won't be able to recline your seat and you'll be dealing with a constant stream of traffic next to your row.
Consider an Upgrade
You can actually pay money to get a better seat. Whether you pay the airline directly to get a premium seat in coach, or you use an app to swap seats with another passenger, you can pay to improve your spot on the flight. For many, the cost of paying for a better seat is worth the improved flying experience.
Check-in Online in Advance
When you check-in online prior to your flight, you have the advantage of seeing the current available seats. If you time it right (about 24 hours in advance) you may score first dibs on the premium seats that were being held for frequent flyers and rewards club members.
Smile and Say Hello to the People Working at the Gate
If you tried to get your favorite seat when you booked and then you even tried to switch to a better seat when you checked into the flight online but you were still unsuccessful, you don't need to give up hope. Sometimes, the best way to get a better seat is to simply approach the gate workers, smile and politely ask if you could switch to that window seat with the great view.
Keep on Flying
Another way to get access to the most comfortable seats on the airplane is to become a frequent flyer. When you fly often with one particular airline, you can earn rewards and develop a status with the airline that allows you to select from a premium pool of seats or upgrade more frequently once you have arrived at the airport.
Download the Right Apps
Never underestimate the power of technology. There are many apps that can help you get the best seat in coach. SeatGuru, a sister site of Airfarewatchdog, offers one such app, delivering users the opportunity to learn more about the dimensions of the seats and other relevant information. It offers extra insight that the airlines do not, allowing you to make the right selection for your flight.