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Getting the Best Seat On Board

How to Ge the Best Seats on Airplanes
and More Bang for Your Buck

by Judi Janofsky & Rich Steck

Flying coach is really the pits. As Americans are getting wider, seats are getting narrower so carriers can get more of them in every plane. But unless you're an elite-status frequent flier member or on an expense account, you're stuck riding in the back of the plane with the rest of us.

So what can you do to snag the best of the worst seats? Here are just a few tips:

Not all seats are equal. Not among carriers or aircraft type. Each plane can be configured differently. So rule number one is to do your homework. If the price is the same among a few flights, check each carrier's website for the type of aircraft they're using on that flight and then look at the configuration, seat width and pitch. Avoid any seats near the lavatories or galleys where it's noisy and crowded. And remember bulkhead and exit seats may give you more legroom, but they are usually narrower to make space in the armrest for the tray table. And many exit row seats don't recline. Try or for more extensive seat configurations for most carriers.

Further research. Once you know what type of aircraft is available, check out which seats are good or bad at To find out which airlines are more generous with their legroom all around, check out

Go wide. Wide-body planes with two aisles usually have wider seats. However, a number of airlines are changing many of these planes to a 3-3-3 configuration, leaving a third of the passengers stuck in the middle seat.

Select a continuing flight.
Try looking for a flight that is continuing on overseas. These planes are usually roomier and have better amenities for international travel.

Picking the seat. If you fly a lot, you may want to join For $4.99 a month, you can view which seats are available in real time for over 100 carriers.

Last-minute seats. Airlines traditionally hold a block of the best seats for last-minute elite passengers. If these seats aren't taken, they are released just before boarding. When you get to the gate, ask the agent if any prime seats have opened up.

Related Articles...

RTM's Airline Rules Section
Dealing with Lost Luggage
Airline Fee & Tax Guide
Cell Phones on Planes
Flying with Kids
Flying Fearlessly

(Source: Where to Go Next)