Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Sat June 20 2015

How To Keep The Seat Next To You Empty On A Flight

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | June 20, 2015

How To Keep The Seat Next To You Empty On A Flight

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

I am a big guy with, in fact, a 52-inch chest. Even when I was at my thinnest, I still over hung into the seat next to me. Now, I am not big enough to need the seat belt extension, but let’s just say that my derrière is packed in there pretty tight.

This is one of the reasons that I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines’ boarding system. I pay the $10 extra to board in the beginning and then I make myself look as big as I can so that no one wants to sit next to me; because no one wants to sit next to the big guy. Nine out of ten flights, I end up sitting all alone but there has to be a better way. The folks over at Travel Codex have put together a few tips for trying to keep that seat next to you empty.

One of the tips they offer is to figure out the configuration and do a little bit of deductive reasoning to figure out which seats will be the last to fill. If your configuration is 3-3-3, shoot for either the left or right aisle or window because the center middle seats are more desirable, as people there won’t have anyone climbing over them.

In the 2-3-2 or 2-4-2, try to go for the seat that has as few empty seats as possible next to you. If others are choosing their seats, they are liable to pick the row with two empty seats instead of that one lowly middle seat next to you.

The other great piece of advice here is to pick a seat near the back of the plane. A lot of people don’t pick their seats ahead of time; they just get assigned when they check in. Gate agents typically try to spread people out when they are assigning seats, but when they have to start filling those middle seats, they typically go from front to back. You have a better chance of that seat staying open longer if you are in the back of the plane.

Travel Codex has some other tips and tricks for picking seats but the best are to use the websites SeatGuru and ExpertFlyer. I highly recommend both as well.

So, good luck flying with the ability to spread out and relax. Just don’t take off your shoes.


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.