How you can avoid getting a middle seat on your next flight

How to avoid being stuck with a middle seat
How to avoid being stuck with a middle seat (Source)

The dreaded middle seat on an airplane. I have nightmares about them and you probably do too. Whenever I board a plane, I always wonder about these people stuck in middle seats. I will show you how to avoid being one of these people.

Book early

This one is a given. Obviously, the earlier you book, the more seats will be available for you to pick.

Everyone has their favorite spot on the plane to sit. I like sitting in a window seat on the right side towards the back for the plane. The earlier I book, the better chance I have of sitting where I want.

A great site for airplane seating maps is Seat Guru. I use Seat Guru for every single one of my flights to find the best seats on the plane.

Pick your seat at booking

This might sound basic, but when you book your flight, make sure you pick a seat.

Most airlines will show you a seating chart during the booking process where you can pick your desired seat.

If you don’t pick your seat at booking, the airline might select your seat for you. If the plane is quite full, you could end up in a middle seat.

If you forgot to pick a seat at booking, you can usually pick one at check in, whether at the counter, at a kiosk, or online.

Avoid airlines with advanced seating fees

Believe it or not, many airlines charge for seating assignments.

Airlines such as Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Ryan Air charge an additional fee for an assigned seat. These airlines, and others, charge fees for almost everything. While their fares could seem low, in the end the fees add up. I usually try to avoid these airlines with ‘a la carte’ fees.

If you choose to not pay for a seat, the airline will assign a seat for you at check in for free. This means that if you are traveling with other people, you might sit separately or you could get a middle seat.

Another thing to remember with airlines that charge for seats is that prices for individual seats can vary. A window seat could cost you $30 while a middle seat costs $15.

So, pay for your seat or choose another airline that won’t charge you to pick a seat.

If you are assigned a middle seat prior to the flight, check the seating map everyday

In the rare case that I am assigned a middle seat, I will check the seating map on the airlines website at least once per day, usually more.

When all seats are taken at booking, I relax knowing that people change plans, cancels trips, and upgrade their seats. This means that seats usually free up.

Most seats that will free up occur in the week or days before the flight. I usually check at least three times a day in the week before. This method has worked for me every time.

If using frequent flyer miles on partner airlines, get confirmation number of partner

Whenever I use frequent flyer miles for flights, I try to book on partner airlines.

For example, I can use my American Airlines frequent flyer miles to fly on one of their partners such as Japan Airlines, Qantas, or British Airways. In my opinion, the partner airlines offer a higher level of service for the same amount of miles.

If I book using miles with a partner of American Airlines, I will receive a confirmation number from American Airlines. The problem with this is that I can’t pick my seat with this confirmation number. To solve this problem, I need to contact American Airlines and ask the agent for the corresponding confirmation number of the partner airline.

Once I have the confirmation number of the partner airline, I go to their website, enter the confirmation number, and I can pick my seat.


Getting stuck with a middle seat that you do not want is avoidable.

Whether you book early, pay for a seat, or wait for a seat to open up, you should never have to sit in a middle seat ever again.

Now if you are traveling with your significant other or a business partner and they want the window or aisle seat, then I guess you will just have to bite your tongue and enjoy the long ride in the middle seat.

Last Updated on January 30, 2024

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My name is Anthony and I am addicted to traveling all around the world experiencing new people, cultures, and foods. These are some of my stories.