Increasing Your Chances of Getting a Standby Seat

British airways business class: A long flight is always much more pleasant if you have a good seat. Different people have different wants and needs when it comes to seating, so you will need to plan ahead to find the seat that is best for you. Give yourself the best chance at getting a good seat by booking the seat you want in advance. You may also be able to score a better seat when you board your flight.

British airways business class

Decide on your travel class. If you’re willing to shell out the extra money for a ticket in first class or business class, you’re likely to get more comfortable seats than you would in economy class. Before booking a flight, take a look at your budget and decide what travel class will work best for you.

  • Even if you can’t or don’t want to pay for a first class or business class ticket, you might be able to get a last-minute upgrade for little or no extra cost.

Pick a preferred seating location. There are different advantages and disadvantages to sitting in different areas of the plane. When thinking about where you would like to sit, consider some of the following:

    • A seat closer to the front of the plane offers a quicker exit at the end of the flight.
    • A seat over the wing provides maximum stability if you happen to hit turbulence.
    • If you’re concerned about safety, ,sit in an exit row or toward the rear of the plane. Both of these locations may be associated with higher survival rates in the event of a crash.
    • A seat near the lavatories may be ideal if you need a lot of bathroom breaks, but these areas also tend to come with higher passenger traffic and the possibility of bad smells.

      British airways business class

Make a list of your seating needs. In addition to picking a preferred spot on the plane, think about other features you would like your seat to have. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Legroom: If you’re sitting in economy class, aim for a bulkhead seat, aisle seat, or emergency exit row seat. Seats with higher “pitch” (the space between your seat and the seat in front of it) also offer more legroom.
  • Recline: A reclining seat can make a big difference to your comfort if you’re hoping to sleep during the flight. Some seats, like those in front exit rows on certain planes, can’t recline.
  • Width: If you need more room to spread out, you might want to choose a flight that offers wider seats. You can find out both the width and pitch of seats available on most flights at
  • Aisle vs. window seats: If you think you’ll need to get out of your seat a lot, or need some extra legroom, an aisle seat is your best bet. If you like looking out the window or want to be able to lean up against the wall to sleep, choose a window seat.

    British airways business class

Use an online seating guide to research your options. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, go to a website like or You can browse these websites by airline, or even enter a specific flight number, to find information about available seats, including:

  • Seat pitch
  • Seat width
  • Recline
  • Proximity to various parts of the plane, like the lavatories, exit rows, or wings
  • Seat-specific amenities, like personal TV screens, power ports, or under-the-seat storage
  • User comments about issues associated with specific seats

Select your seat when you book your flight. Many airlines will allow you to choose your seat when you buy your ticket. Depending on the airline, there may or may not be an extra fee associated with choosing your own seating assignment.

  • If you can’t select your seat online, try calling the airline and speaking to an agent. They might be able to assign a preferred seat for you.
  • Use a site like to help you decide which seat to pick when you are booking the flight. That way, you will have seating information specific to the aircraft model on which you’ll be flying.

    British airways business class

Book your flight as far in advance as you can. If your airline allows passengers to select their seats at booking time, the best seats may be grabbed up quickly. If you can, book your flight a few weeks in advance, so that you can maximize your chances of getting the seat you want.

Purchase a premium seat. In some cases, you can pay a little extra to get a better seat. Some airlines offer options like “Economy Plus” or “Even More Space” seats that offer more comfort or legroom without requiring you to shell out for a business or first class ticket.

Sign up for your airline’s frequent flier program. Most airlines offer frequent flier programs, which come with a variety of perks. Loyal members who have earned a lot of points may be offered seating upgrades or first pick of prime seats.

British airways business class

Check in at the airport early. Even if you weren’t able to choose your seat when you booked your flight, you can often select your seat when you check in for your flight, or when you arrive at your departure gate. Check in and get to your gate with plenty of time to spare to maximize your chances of getting the best possible seat.

  • For a domestic flight, you should get to the airport at least one hour before your flight is scheduled to depart. For international flights, try to get there two hours before departure.
  • If you arrive at your departure gate too late, there is a risk that your seat will be given to another passenger.
  • If your plane does not have assigned seating, boarding as early as possible can help ensure that you get the kind of seat that you want.
  • While it’s generally best to arrive early, arriving a little late or right on time may increase your chances of getting bumped up to a higher class.

    British airways business class

Purchase an upgrade when you check in. Sometimes better seats or bargain-priced class upgrades become available at the last minute. If you’re flying economy, you might be able to snag an upgrade to business or first class for a relatively small fee.

  • Depending on the airline, you might be able to upgrade at a check-in kiosk, or by speaking with the agent at the check-in counter.
  • For example, ask the agen,“Are there any deals available on upgrades to first class for this flight?”

Ask about seating options at the gate. If you weren’t able to get the seat you want ahead of time, the agent at the departure gate might be able to reassign you to a seat that’s better for your needs. New seats sometimes open up at the last minute when another passenger cancels their flight or upgrades to another class.

  • Be as specific as possible. If you’re familiar with the seat plan on your flight, ask if a specific seat is available. You could ask, “Is there any chance I could sit in 12A?”
  • Otherwise, describe your needs in as much detail as you can. For example, “I’m looking for an aisle seat over the wing.”

British airways business class

More tips

  • As a general rule, you should try to fly with an airline that is part of an alliance to maximize the benefit of your frequent flier miles.

  • Many airlines now reserve the best seats (such as exit row seats) for their rewards program customers, and may charge a fee for others to use these seats.

  • For some airlines with no assigned seating, like Southwest, boarding is based upon the order that you check in. You can purchase the option to be among the first 15 people to board for an extra fee.

  • Bulkhead seats have their ups and downs. While you don’t have to worry about being crowded by reclining passengers in front of you, you may not have under-the-seat storage or a tray table. On some planes, the bulkhead seats are at least as cramped as the regular seats.

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