There are lots of things to worry about when it comes to flights with little ones. Some of those worries come when packing, some when you’re boarding, and some in those stressful hours of time in the air. But don’t neglect the part that can often be taken care of well in advance: seat selection. Check out these five tips for picking great seats on your next flight.
1. Start with SeatGuru. Go online to SeatGuru to see where the best seats are on your flight(s). Simply enter your flight number(s) and date(s). SeatGuru will then display your expected aircraft, seating layouts, best and worst seats, and amenities at each seat (e.g., power outlets, individual entertainment systems, leg room, etc.).
2. Decide on “Across” or “Behind.” If your family will spill beyond the 2-3 seats on one side of the aisle, think about whether you want to split across the aisle (great for passing things back and forth—plus improved visibility to all family members) or whether you’d rather be one row behind the other. We generally choose the latter because it’s easy to reach anyone who needs help AND we can put our most likely seatback-kickers in the second row, avoiding the nasty looks from unknown fellow travelers who don’t appreciate the “massage effect.”
3. Choose Your Seats Early. Select your seats early, at the time of booking if possible. If you have trouble finding seats that will work well for your family, call the airline after buying your tickets. Phone reps may be able to work some magic and find seats together, especially if you politely point out that everyone on the flight will be happier if your little ones are happy.
If you’re still stuck without good seats or seats together, set an alarm for 24 hours before the first flight in your journey. Not only is that the time when you can check in—it’s also the time when many airlines release unassigned (or the more expensive) seats to all flyers. As a last resort, get to the airport early and see if an agent at the counter can help. They usually have added control over seat assignments.
4. Know How to Score Prime Seating at No Extra Charge. When it comes to the more expensive seats (e.g., near the front and/or with extra leg room), the price can add up quickly when traveling as a family. If you have the airline’s credit card or fly frequently enough to have elite status on the airline, you can often select these seats at no charge.
5. Look for a Bassinet Option. Some airplanes used for international flights have bulkhead seats with a bassinet option. There may be an extra charge for bassinet use, but it will cost you less than buying a regular seat for your baby, and on overnight flights, everyone will sleep better when your child has a place of his or her own.
Don’t let bad seats keep you from having a great trip. Plan ahead, be persistent, and make informed choices so that your family arrives at your destination ready for fun!
Spencer and Emily Wheelwright have long loved to travel, exploring many corners of the world together. Read more about their travels, tips, and recommendations at Family Explorers. Also, be sure to check out their new ebook, Fly the Family for Free.
Photo Credit: Christopher Doyle