An Easy Way to Get a Better Seat on Your Flight You Didn’t Think Of

I’ve been preaching this one to a lot of friends recently, but I don’t think I’ve written about this. There’s an easy way to score a better seat on your next flight, and it’s right under your nose.

Let’s suppose you’re in a seat all the way in the back of the plan. Heck, maybe you’re in the middle of the plane, but you’re in a middle seat. Or maybe an elite flyer, who booked the trip last minute and only got a seat by the lavatory.

Take a look at the upgrade list for my flight yesterday, from Chicago to Washington Reagan. 4 people cleared the upgrade, including yours truly.


I can pretty much safely bet that the top 4 people on this list were in very desirable seats. Most likely they’re either Concierge Key or Executive Platinums, and they had desirable Main Cabin Extra Seats, or an exit row aisle seat, like me.

As soon as they get upgraded, suddenly their original economy seats are vacated, and that’s when you need to swoop in.

Sometimes I’ve asked the gate agent (when I knew I wouldn’t clear an upgrade), what seat the #1 person on the list was in, that way she could swap me in when their upgrade cleared. It’s worked almost every time. When they’ve got standby passengers, and they’re filling the aircraft, they’re going to put them in any remaining seat, including these desirable seats. If you’re in a not-so-good seat, it’s well worth your time to ask the agent if you can be moved to one of the now vacated seats due to an upgrade. I often find they’re able to do it without a charge, especially if the aircraft is going to be filled up anyways. It’s just and easy and quick way to get a seat with a little more extra legroom, or at the front of the plane, without really having to do anything.

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  1. says

    We use this technique whenever we fly our ‘non-status’ airlines; where we have no elite status.

    Recently we got Main Cabin Select with Virgin America on 4 of 6 flights this way; with zero additional cash outlay.

    People should realize that gate agents are so overworked; any solutions you can offer within the rules make allow them to make one less choice or decision under stress (get planes out on-time!)

    Good tip Mr. L!

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