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Is It Worth Paying for Seat Selection?

When booking a flight with an airline, you will likely be presented with an option to reserve a seat at an extra cost. And this always begs a crucial question, is it worth paying for seat selection?

Whether or not reserving a seat is worth depends on a couple of things. In the following post, we’ll be looking at the situations that warrant paying for seat selection.

When to Pay For Seat Selection

The first thing you should consider entails your personal needs. 

For instance, there are those who prefer aisle seats. Others, however, feel more comfortable sitting next to their traveling buddies, regardless of where these seats are. 

If you have such specific needs, it makes sense to pay for seat selection.

The second thing you should account for is the airline you’re traveling with. Does it offer comfortable seats? Comfort is essential, especially when you’re going on long journeys

If an airline offers cozy seats with plenty of legroom, then there’s no need to reserve a seat in advance. But, if not all the seats have ample legroom, you’ll certainly benefit from reserving a good seat beforehand.

Do I always have to pay in advance for the seat that I want? No, you don’t. There’s a simple hack to ensure that you don’t pay a dime, and it works most of the time. 

Just visit your airline’s website precisely 24 hours before your flight and check in. This way, you’ll be among the first people to do so. 

This then ensures that you’ll get your preferred seat or automatically be seated with the person that you’re traveling with.

There’s an added advantage of being among the first people to book your flight online. It saves you from having to wait in long queues at the airport’s check-in counter. 

What Happens if I Skip Seat Selection?

empty airplane seats

Skipping seat selection is not a big deal as some airlines make it out to be.

It doesn’t mean that you’ll miss a seat. It simply means the airline will assign you whichever seat is available.

Worst case scenario, you’ll get a tight middle or rear seat. But you may also be lucky enough to get a comfortable one with a lot of legroom.

Why Do Airlines Charge for Seat Selection?

This is one of the many ways through which airlines earn profits. 

The truth is, if an airline is offering ridiculously low fares, it’s compensating for these prices with upsells like seat selections.

You May Also Like: Is Thrifty Traveler Premium Worth It?

Can You Choose a Seat After Booking a Flight?

Most airlines prompt you to select a seat when booking. But if you forget to do that for some reason, it’s still possible to choose one on the airline’s website after booking.

Alternatively, you can opt to choose your seat when checking in at the airport. The disadvantage is that you’ll have to select from the few available ones.

The other option is to contact the airline’s customer service team to help you reserve your seat instead of waiting to do it at the airport. 

How Do I Make Sure My Family Sits Together on a Plane?

Most airlines will automatically assign you and your family nearby seats if you book the entire family on the same reservation. According to the US Department of Transportation:

American’s system will try its best to sit the family together, but if seats are limited, it will try to assign seats so children under 15 are next to at least 1 adult on the same reservation record (which may result in adults in the party being separated).

The transportation department also advises families to skip the selection process if the available seats are scattered or won’t fit their entire family. This way, it’s easier for the system to sit them together before they even get to the airport. 

Another way to ensure your family sits together is to book tickets early. You’ll be spoilt for seating options when you book early. If none of these methods works, you can always call an airline’s support center. 

What Airlines Have No Assigned Seating?

economy airplane seats

Southwest Airlines is one of the few airlines that don’t assign seats on their flights. So all you have to do is board and pick any seat you like. The airline takes pride in this, viewing this trait as one that gives it a competitive edge.

Does Involuntary Bumping Affect Those With Reserved Seats?

If there are more passengers than available seats, airlines must first ask passengers to give up their seats voluntarily before resulting in involuntary bumping. Any passenger who volunteers must be compensated. 

That said, people with assigned seats are usually not subjected to involuntary bumping. 

A good case in point is the Hawaiian Airlines that prioritizes such passengers. Here is what they have to say about it: 

Generally, all guests holding seat assignments will be boarded. The priority of guests who are not holding seat assignments and, if necessary, other guests may be determined based on a guest’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the guest presents him/herself for check in without an advanced seat assignment.

Final Thoughts

Seat reservation prices can run pretty high, especially when traveling with friends or family. So if you want to cut costs, check in 24 hours before your flight departure time, not an hour before, not an hour later. 

Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to reserve a seat is entirely up to you. But ensure you evaluate the factors carefully so you can enjoy your trip. 

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Hayden Wall

Hayden is the founder of Travel Gear Discounts and tries to vacation as much as possible. He loves finding the latest travel accessories that will make getting out easier and planning the perfect weekend getaway.