This airline booking hack shares the internet

This airline booking hack shares the internet


The strategy is a favorite among well-traveled couples: Book aisle and window seats in the same row, then hope that some modern miracle of air travel will leave them with an empty middle seat.

In the best case – which rarely happens when a flight is not fully booked – no one sits between them, and the duo gets to stretch out. The worst case scenario? Some poor sap gets stuck in the middle of two people who still insist on gesticulating, communicating and, in the case of one unlucky passenger, spilling wine on their neighbor.

More often than not, however, one member of the couple offers to switch, and the occupant of the middle seat gets an unexpected upgrade to the aisle or window.

“Usually the person is excited,” said Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights and an employer of the couple’s gambit when he and his wife, Anya, travel together without children.

To those who willingly chose the middle seat: We have questions

But as one viral tweet revealed earlier this month, the stranger in the middle isn’t always thrilled — and some fellow travelers find the strategy stultifying, or even reprehensible.

In the post that generated a flurry of reactions and nearly 200,000 likes, writer-director Zack Bornstein wrote that the person sitting between him and his girlfriend declined their offer to take the aisle or the window and instead settled for the five-and-one – half-hour trip in the middle.

Most agreed that a preference for the middle seat was inexplicable. But some pointed the finger at the original booking decision as the real culprit.

“Trying to get a chain for yourself to fight back is lovely and I applaud the immovable person,” one person wrote. “We all want a row to ourselves, you know.”

Another chimed in: “Remember kids, if you want to sit next to your wife on a plane, buy two seats that are actually next to each other instead of expecting strangers to accommodate your poor planning.”

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Offered a third: “True energy vampire is the one who booked two seats apart and now makes it someone else’s problem.”

Cornell University PhD student Elissa Domingo Badiqué, 40, said they were troubled that so many people using the hack seemed to feel justified in switching with the person in the middle – and that some on social media had discussed ways to punish people who didn’t want to. switch.

“Just know that you tried to game the system and lost. Take the loss gracefully,” Badiqué said. “Please don’t try to make the person in the middle seat suffer because you didn’t get what you wanted.”

Badiqué – who is not a fan of gambling – prefers the middle and said their partner is usually fine with taking the middle. They have never rolled the dice to try to get a complete blank row.

“I wasn’t really interested in trying to possibly haggle someone out of the middle seat if that was going to happen,” they said.

The unofficial rules for every seat on an airplane: Middle

As she prepared to board a plane last week, 26-year-old Hanna Detwiler, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said she and her fiance always book seats next to each other despite him being more of a walker, and she likes windows.

“I was talking to my fiance and I was like, ‘It never occurred to me that you could do that and have a chance to get the whole streak,'” she said. “Have I been doing this all wrong?”

Still, Detwiler, who works in local government, said she’d rather sit next to someone she knows than risk being stuck next to a stranger.

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“I always think about sleeping too,” she said. “I’d rather sleep and accidentally fall on my fiance than a person I don’t know.”

Flight attendant Rich Henderson, 34, said he can tell when a couple is playing the game: They sit on either side of an empty middle seat as he walks through the cabin and closes the bins before takeoff.

“They’re just staring at you, waiting to find out their fate,” said Henderson, who runs the Two Guys on a Plane blog and social media accounts with her husband, Andrew Kothlow. Professionally, he said the tactics are not a problem. But personally he is not a fan.

As a perk of his job, Henderson flies freely, but often has to take whatever seat is available. He remembers a trip with his mother where they both ended up in the middle seats. He was between husband and wife.

“The wife looks at me immediately, just dead in the face, and said, ‘We’re not moving, so don’t ask,'” he said. The pair wore noise-canceling headphones and spent much of the eight-hour flight gesturing for each other’s attention and passing food and drink, at one point spilling red wine on Henderson.

“Looking back, it was fun,” he said. “But I didn’t like it at the moment.”

The great flight debate: Should you ever switch seats?

A subset of savvy travelers has offered their own strategy, one with significantly less risk: book aisle seats across from each other. That’s the solution for Brian Sumers, editor of the Airline Observer business newsletter. In a message, he said that the investment in aisle windows is problematic at a time when airlines have few empty seats.

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“It rarely works,” he said.

But for fans — including some high-profile flyers — the idea of ​​a full row is too tempting to pass up.

“We are a ‘couple’ of flying fanatics who do this every time,” Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, so on Twitter, including a photo of himself and the union’s director of communications, Taylor Garland. “Better chance of getting the row to ourselves.”

If someone hits the middle, Nelson said she offers to switch to the middle and give the extra person the aisle.

Chris Medland, a freelance journalist and broadcaster who covers Formula 1, is trying to use points to upgrade to more spacious premium economy when traveling with his fiancée. But when that is not possible, they choose the window-hallway combination. He thinks it has been a success once defended the practice on Twitter, saying he would accept the decision if someone in the middle didn’t want to switch.

“I see it as a game,” said Medland, 33, who lives outside London. “I’ve always felt that it kind of balanced itself out. You win some, you lose some, and if you’re willing to lose some, you can’t complain.”

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