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How To Change Airline Seats: Is Seat-Jumping Acceptable?


How To Change Airline Seats: Is Seat-Jumping Acceptable?We’ve all had it—airplane seat envy! Admit it, as you board you’re craning your neck, scanning the rows, looking for empties, plotting what airline seat you’ll steal once everyone’s situated but before the plane lifts off.

Maybe you and your husband booked at the last minute and couldn’t sit together. Or you’re sandwiched between two other passengers, staring at an empty row in front of you. We’ve all done it, but is it really ok to ditch our assigned seat for greener pastures?

The answer is: it depends! While different airlines have varying protocols for seat-jumping, in general, switching seats within your class is perfectly acceptable. But think again if you covet the exit row with its extra legroom; those tickets are priced higher to take into account the, “spaciousness.”

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How much higher? Passengers can expect to pay up to $100 dollars more for the privilege of unbending their knees.  Of course, it depends on the airline. Luckily for you, many flight attendants look the other way if the row is completely empty.

When you spy an empty seat, it’s tempting to sneak over a row or two, but remember that there’s always someone who’ll board at the last possible minute. How awkward is it to get that, “hey you’re in my seat,” look and then slink back to your own less desirable accommodation?

And if you’re dreaming of scoring an upgrade, keep in mind that those empty seats go first to frequent fliers. What if you’re an occasional flyer, and you just have to have an upgrade?

No worries! Your flight attendant has the ability to ding your credit card with the same handy handheld device that rings up your Bud Lights, ensuring your escape from that insidious seat-kicker or incessant talker.

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Have you yourself ever been asked to change seats? Flight attendants sometimes move passengers around in order to evenly distribute weight, particularly at takeoff.

The whole weight-balance issue is a complicated science that affects the plane’s balance, fuel use, etc. Weight balance is more of a safety issue on puddle-jumpers, but pilots know just what to do to attain the optimum ratio!

If you must make a seat change request remember that the flight attendant is the boss! It pays to be polite, and without a doubt, they don’t need or want any added drama on their shift.

Just keep in mind that the least conspicuous way to swipe seats is online, allowing you to sidestep any possible side eye from attendants or your fellow passengers!

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  1. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    These are great tips. Also, I had to laugh when I saw “spaciousness” as a reason to increase the price of certain seats. Who are they kidding? LOL

  2. Colleen Lanin says

    We’ve had to seat jump a couple of times. With some airlines, it’s super easy, and with some, it’s just not worth the hassle.

  3. MJ.L says

    Great tips! I never had to sear jump but I will keep these in mind next time we fly.

  4. Liz Mays says

    It’s nice that the option of switching seats is open for some airlines. Things can become uncomfortable very quickly on flights!

  5. Ann Bacciaglia says

    This is great timing for me. I will be travelling soon and just might want to upgrade my seat. I would hate to be stuck in a bad seat.

  6. Reesa Lewandowski says

    I traveled for the first time in a very long time last month and this is something I wondered! Thank you for the etiquette!

  7. Crystal says

    Good to know! I have changed seats a few times, normally to better accommodate my family. Why do the airlines charge extra to ensure you’re sitting with your kids?

  8. Seattle Travel Blogger says

    It does pay to be polite to flight attendants; they really make the difference.
    I was not aware, nor have I done, any seat swapping online.

  9. Marcie W. says

    When it comes to airplane seating, I am definitely a snob. I happily pay additional fees for upgraded seats with extra leg room.

  10. Dawn McAlexander says

    I have only been on one flight in my life. Fortunately, I got the seat that I wanted. I will keep your tips in mind for the next time that I am on a plane.

  11. Kiwi says

    TO be honest I never really think of it. I try to be content wherever I sit although I really dispise the middle seat. This is good info to know!

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