If you don’t use Southwest Airlines, you might want to skip this post as this is focused on that carrier. Then again, you might find the subject-matter interesting anyway.
Financial wizard Gary Leff writes here about four ways to get a free empty seat next to you on Southwest airlines. An empty seat is the best thing you can do to have a better flight. On most airlines it is luck. On Southwest it is strategy.
On most airlines you can reserve an aisle and window if you’re traveling with someone, and hope the flight isn’t full. Traveling solo in back, I recently switched seats the morning of my flight to improve the odds of an empty middle and it worked. I went from an otherwise empty exit row to an aisle seat across the way where the exit row window was already taken. Read more from Gary here courtesy of ViewFromTheWing.com
Here are some other good strategies.
- Book Early: Try to book your flight as early as possible. This gives you a better chance of selecting a window seat from the available options before they get occupied.
- Use Seat Selection Tools: Many airlines allow you to choose your seat during the booking process. Use this feature to select a window seat that appears to be less popular or is located away from other selected seats.
- Check-in Early: Online check-in opens usually 24 hours before the flight. By checking in early, you can get access to a wider range of available seats, including empty window seats.
- Consider Off-Peak Flights: Flights during off-peak hours or days might have fewer passengers, increasing your chances of finding empty seats.
- Monitor Seat Availability: Some airlines allow you to monitor seat availability even after booking. If you notice a window seat that was previously occupied becoming available, you might be able to switch.
- Arrive Early at the Gate: If you couldn’t secure a window seat during booking or check-in, arriving at the gate early might allow you to request a change if any window seats are still unoccupied.
- Ask at the Gate: Politely inquire at the gate whether there are any empty window seats. If the flight isn’t fully booked, the gate agents might be more willing to accommodate such requests.
- Consider Premium Seats: Some airlines offer premium seats with extra legroom or other amenities. These seats might be less popular, increasing your chances of finding an empty window seat among them.
- Be Polite and Flexible: If you notice a row with only one passenger, consider politely asking if they’d be willing to switch seats to allow you to have a window seat.
- Be Prepared for Changes: Even if you initially don’t get an empty window seat, situations might change during the boarding process. Passengers could be moved due to operational reasons, which might open up an opportunity for you to switch.
Remember, there’s no foolproof strategy, as airline policies, flight occupancy, and passenger preferences can all vary. Approach these strategies with patience and politeness, and you might increase your chances of snagging that empty window seat.
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