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How to avoid the dreaded middle seat

Getting stuck with a middle seat is hell in the sky.

Christine Krzysztonnews.com.au

MOST travellers dread the uncomfortable middle seat, especially in the back of the plane.

There is usually very little leg room, an armrest that may get (unfairly) claimed by your seatmates, and you become the middle person for everything being served or picked up by the flight attendant.

An undesirable seat can affect your trip in a negative way so making the effort to know where you’re sitting before you board the plane is paramount.

Not sure where your seat is located? Sites like Seat Guru, Seat Expert, and Seat Maestro provide seat maps, pitch/leg room dimensions, seat ratings, information on amenities, seat recline and armrest data, and the location of washrooms.

If the seat you have is not the seat you want, try these tips for securing one that will make your journey comfortable.

Select your seat at ticketing and call

Most people select their seats when they purchase their ticket but that may not be an option for everyone.

You might be in a hurry to get the purchase completed online and you forget to go back and select your seats.

The first tip is to always try to select your seat when you buy the ticket. If only middle seats are available then call the airline immediately and ask if there is a better seat.

You may not be able to view all the available seats on the plane during online seat selection and it is possible that the agent can assign you a better seat.

There are aisle people, and then there are window people. No one wants the middle seat.

There are aisle people, and then there are window people. No one wants the middle seat.Source:istock

Set up a free seat alert

If you can’t select the seats you want and the agent is unable to assign you a better seat, you can set up a seat alert using a great tool found on Expert Flyer.

Setting up alerts is free and they will email you when the seat you want becomes available to be selected.

Monitor your reservation

If you still have not secured a seat you like, you may have to babysit your reservation until you find a desirable open seat — this will become increasingly important about a week before your departure date.

Seats can start to open up due to elite travellers receiving upgrades and those people who have not been granted upgrades may move up to the newly opened seats.

This activity can open up more seats that you may be able to secure.

If it gets to be a couple of days before your departure, call the airline again and ask if getting a better seat is possible.

Be very kind to the gate agent

Even when you’re at the departure gate, there is still hope for a better seat.

Travellers miss their connections, families discover they’re not sitting together, and elite customers receive last minute upgrades.

Seat changes happen frequently at the gate. If you politely ask the gate agent something like: ‘Is it at all possible to get a better seat?’ you may be delightfully surprised with the result.

They’ll let you know immediately if the flight is full and they can’t change your seat or they may even ask you to hold off and they’ll try to find one for you.

Do what you can to switch your middle seat with a more desirable location.

Do what you can to switch your middle seat with a more desirable location.Source:Getty Images

Just buy someone else’s seat

Even after you’ve boarded the plane, there is still hope to get out of that middle seat — but it might cost you.

There may be someone on the plane who will switch with you, for a fee.

The newly-launched app Seataroo has created an online marketplace that allows ticketed passengers to buy and sell seats.

For example, if you’re in a middle seat in the back of the plane, you can go on Seataroo and see if anyone is willing to sell their seat to you.

Those travellers who have a seat to sell would post it on the app along with their asking price.

The app facilitates the transaction between the two parties including payment processing. Once the transaction is complete, you can swap seats.

Seat swaps are only allowed in the same class of service and refunds are available if a swap doesn’t get completed for whatever reason. Seataroo can be used prior to your trip and is available until the flight is closed.

Boarding a plane and just realising you are sitting in a middle seat or that you are not sitting next to your travel partner can be disappointing.

If having a desirable seat is important to you, being proactive prior to your flight will help you get the best seat possible.

This article originally appeared in Frugal Travel Guy and was reproduced with permission.

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