For a lot families, I think flying can be the biggest stress of their vacation. Adding to the stress is making sure you will all have seats and will be able to sit together. I recently had this issue. Since our trip was last minute when I tried to find seats all that was left were middle or the “Even More” seats. I know that the airlines are notorious for manipulating the seating chart to get people to pay for the upgraded seats. I decided to take a chance and get seats together at the airport. We were lucky and were given the “Even More” seats and did not have to pay extra. But on the way back, there was a snow storm which had caused a lot of delays and cancellations, so I did not want to take a chance and paid for the seats to sit together. That meant an extra $105.
I find it very frustrating that as customers we have to jump through all these hoops just to get a seat, let alone to make sure we are sitting with our own children. So, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks to help take some of the stress out of your next flight.
- Try to book early, when more seats are available. Especially, if you have a large family. If your are booking 6-8 weeks out when prices are usually cheaper, you can usually find seats.
- When pricing your flights make sure you add any baggage fees, but also think about budgeting for seats. This is for everyone in your party and in both directions. If you choose an airline like Jet Blue or Southwest at least you will not have pay for checked bags.
- Look at airlines that offer “open seating” like Southwest or that have more transparent seat-selection policies.
- Check out sites like Seatguru for seating charts and advice on making sure you have the right seat for you and your family.
- If there are not seats available when you are booking, get on the phone and call the airline directly. They have access to information that is not available on the internet.
- Make sure to double check your seat assignments the week you are flying. There are times when the airline might switch the type of aircraft assigned to your flight. If this happens then all the reserved seats are re-assigned and you and your family might be split up.
- Another reason to check the week you are flying is that usually the airlines will release seats that were previously unavailable.
- Check in early. When you get your check-in email 24 hours before your flight make sure to complete your on-line check in. If not and you wait to get to the airport you might find that the airline has changed your seats.
- Sign up for an airline credit card. Through your purchases you will build frequent flyer miles, but there are also perks like no bag fees, free upgrades, etc. Having this card puts you higher on the perks list making it easier to get seats as well.
- Sign up for the airline frequent flyer programs. If there is a frequent flyer number attached to your reservation again this puts you higher on the perks list, even if you do not fly that often. Also, make sure to sign up the kids as well.
- The final option if all the above has failed and you are not sitting together is to ask the kindness of a stranger. I have found there is still kindness in strangers. You might also a offer a Starbucks gift card or offer to buy them a snack or drink.
I hope you find these tips helpful.