It’s always a difficult moment. You’re sitting in front of your laptop screen just about to purchase a plane ticket, when you’re asked whether or not you want to pre-book your seat. Promises of extra legroom or a guaranteed window spot may lure you in, but can you really stretch to the extra £20, £30 or £40?
Culture Trip spoke to Julian Kheel, senior editor of online booking platform The Points Guy (TPG), to find out the simple way around this conundrum.
When it comes to the best seats on a plane (assuming you’re turning right into the economy section) Kheel agrees with many frequent fliers that emergency exit rows are the way to go: “They almost always have more leg room,” he says. “The reason for that is because they need to leave enough space for passengers to get by them in an emergency.”
The extra leg room usually comes at a cost, but Kheel explains that this only applies if you select your seat before check in. He explains: “Most airlines charge extra for those seats if you select them before check in, but if there are any left when it’s actually time to check in online, 24 hours before your flight, you can often grab them for no cost.”
Patience is the name of the game. If you can wait it out and don’t mind risking a less desirable seat, you can get that extra comfy set up without the extra cost.
A similar trick applies to the dreaded middle seat: “If you look at the seat map when you’re choosing a seat and nothing is left but middle seats you may be better off not choosing a seat at all,” Kheel tells us. “Some aisles and windows are normally held by the airline until the day of the flight and those will be released at check in or even as soon as at the gate.”
Kheel’s advice to fly comfy for free? “Don’t choose a seat at all, wait until check in or even as late as the gate itself.” Chances are you’ll get a better seat without having to dip into your wallet.