12 Secrets For Getting The Most Comfortable Airline Seat

12 Secrets for Getting the Most Comfortable Airline Seat

Air travel is not what it used to be – many of the perks passengers were getting have been removed in order to keep rates low; hence, the rise of budget airlines. Hidden fees are almost inevitable. A comfortable seat doesn't have to fall in this category. You can pay a little bit of money to reserve the seat you want or you can learn a few tricks.

Reserve a bulkhead seat

Johnny DiScala from JohnnyJet.com says a trick he's learned over the years to make coach feel like first class is to reserve a bulkhead or exit row seat. Then, after takeoff, you take your carry-on bag and turn it into a leg rest, he adds. "I also usually put a small pillow or sweatshirt on top of the bag to make it nice and cushiony. [...] It's no first class, obviously, but in the air these days, a little bit of comfort can go a long way."

Use your status with the airline

You can "buy" comfortable seats for free if you have status with an airline, Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country, says.  If you have racked up enough miles and points you could score a free upgrade, hotel stay, or even an entire flight.

Check sites for seating charts

Use a site like SeatGuru.com which illustrates the top seats on each plane type for every flight scheduled, Abbamonte says. "This is great for non-plane geeks who don't know every seating chart by heart," he adds.

Define “comfort”

"To get the most comfortable airline seat, you first have to define what 'comfort' means to you," Stephanie Be, the "entrepretraveler" at TravelBreak and @StephBeTravel, says. "Do you prefer an aisle seat so that you can get up frequently for a bathroom break (aka stand up and walk around), or do you like to take in the view before a nap against the window?"

Buy flights early

The simplest, cheapest way to get the most comfortable seat at the best price is to book early, Cassandra Santoro from travelitalianstyle.com, says. Also, this way you will have the most selection, Abbamonte adds. "The best time to book a flight is on Tuesday night or Wednesday early morning," Ivy Chou, travel expert at DealsPlus, says. "And the best time to fly is on a Wednesday because it's farthest from the weekend," she adds. 

Book “emergency exit row”

"Most airlines let you book a seat ahead of time, and for a few more dollars, you can book the Emergency Exit Row which provides more leg room," Be says. You will save yourself a lot of pain, especially if you are on a long flight.

Use the airline credit card

"If you're looking for a free seat upgrade, pick a credit card dedicated to your favorite airlines – these give you a priority status," Be says. "On a tough day of delayed flights, you're likely to get bumped up to business class which has more comfort and space." Co-branded credit cards can save you baggage fees, in addition to earning you points. 

Volunteer to take the next flight

"If you're traveling solo on a full flight, you can volunteer to take the next flight out and ask for Business (in addition to the free miles/ tickets you'll get for your next trip)," Be says.

Be kind to the flight attendants

This is one of the most important tips, Be says. If you are at the airport and are negotiating with flight attendants so you can get a better seat for free, you have to be nice to them. "Above all, be kind – and don't be afraid to ask. Airports are a stressful environment and a little smile goes a long way!"

Contact airline directly

"Even if you do not find a seat available online at the time of booking, you may even be able to contact the airline and secure a seat with them directly," Santoro says. This is especially true if you are booking a flight in advance.

Sign up for alerts

"Another option would be to sign up forExpertFlyer.com," Santoro says. "This app allows you to set up alerts when your seat of choice is available." It even allows you to understand better which is the best place on the plane, based on other customer ratings, she adds. "You can set one alert for free or add additional for under a dollar."

Read online reviews

Phil Derner, founder at NYCAviation.com says that one of the best ways to make sure you are booking a comfortable seat is by reading online reviews. This is "a must." "I prefer sites like RouteHappy.com, which specifically measure the passengers' experience on various airlines and routes," he adds.