#Travel140 Travel Tips
Flying with family and hoping to sit together on the plane? Ask at the gate or pay the fee. When flying with family, there’s no guarantee.
In this day of reduced availability and increased fees, it has become harder than ever for a family – or even friends – to sit together when flying. With more airlines offering “no frills” budget tickets, it’s even harder. That’s because most of these fares don’t let you pick your seats. You – and your family – will sit wherever there’s room.
If you do want to sit together, there are still a few things you can do:
The most obvious is to book the more expensive fare and choose your seat. Keep in mind that basic economy type tickets often come with other restrictions, like no included luggage – not even a carryon. If you’re flying with a family, you probably need that carryon space, so upgrading may be less expensive than adding on extras.
Take Your Chances
Admittedly, this is a longshot and, generally speaking, hope is not a good strategy. It’s not that the airlines are heartless beasts intent on making things as difficult as possible. The problem lies more in automation. There are a lot of computers involved, and they only see a bunch of 1s and 0s looking for seats. Some fliers swear that checking in early and together – as in, online as early as possible – will increase your chances. We don’t see that as a risk we would take when flying with children.
Go ahead and book your flights and check the seat maps. Don’t see any free seats together? Don’t give up. In the computerized ticketing systems – a modern day ring in Dante’s Inferno, to be sure – things change. All. The. Time. New seats may open up. Other fliers may move or cancel. Another longshot, but worth checking.
Make Nice with the Gate Agents
You know who can change your seat with the wave of her Fairy Godmother Wand? The gate agent. (Sometimes, not always.) Check in early and approach the gate agent as early as you can to ask about changing seats. Calmly and politely explain your situation, and ask if there is any open space you can switch to so your family, or at least a parent and child, can sit together. More often than not, they can work wonders. Regardless of your success, thank then profusely. (For the record, no good has E V E R come from berating a gate agent.)
Do you have a travel hack to get seats together for your family? Please share in the comments, and we’ll re-post the best. (Be sure to include your Twitter handle and a link to your blog, if you have one!) Or click here for more #Travel140!