BY Christopherson Business Travel |

How to Get a Good Seat in Coach

“I’ll take Airfare for $600, Alex.”

“What does it take to get an airline seat toward the front of the plane in coach?”

“What is … be a frequent traveler with elite status or a traveler who is willing to pay the extra fee to get a better seat?”

If you haven’t realized it yet, getting an airline seat in coach has become a game. So make sure you read all the rules before becoming a contestant.

Travelers can no longer assume that they can choose any seat in coach. Frequent flyer members also shouldn’t assume that their seat will be upgraded to an aisle seat with extra leg room in the front of the plane simply because of “elite status.” Airline seats are a commodity that comes with a price.

Travelers also need to change the way they think about the cost of airfare. Cheapest airfare is considered “base price airfare” which can be better understood if you compare it to how we buy new cars. For example, base price vehicles don’t come with leather or heated seats. Similarly, base price airfare might be a middle seat, or one that doesn’t recline, or is right next to the lavatory. What the airlines are really saying is: “You get what you pay for.”

Costs associated with seats are tied to their “features” like: Is it a window or an aisle seat? Is it a wider seat? Does it have extra leg room? Is it close to the front of the plane? Some airlines call these seats Economy Plus or Economy Comfort seats and you can often get these seats for “free” if you have reached a certain status on frequent flyer programs. Just remember–there are millions of travelers with elite status, so getting that seat upgrade could be difficult if you book trips at the last minute.

There could also be an additional fee for selecting seats when booking for more than one person or for a group. So make sure to find out what the cost is really going to be prior to purchasing that airline ticket. This can certainly be an all-consuming task when booking travel through a website. If booking travel with an agent, ask where the seat is prior to selecting the price of the ticket and if there will be an additional charge for the seat. You can also use websites and apps like SeatGuru to get an in-depth look at the seat configuration on the aircraft.

Tips for the Business Traveler:

  1. Try to book travel as far in advance as possible.
  2. Find out from your company if the additional cost for premium coach seats can be expensed.
  3. Make educated decisions when it comes to booking the cheap tickets.
  4. Use your elite status when you can.

Tips for the  Corporate Travel Manager:

  1. Evaluate your company’s travel policy in regards to coach seats. Most travel policies have guidelines for travelers booking business or first class seats but not for premium coach seats that cost more.
  2. Consider adding additional funds to your travel budget to cover these types of retail charges that airlines will continue to offer the business traveler.
  3. Present the additional cost of premium coach seats as “perk” to your business travelers and include this benefit when recruiting new employees.
  4. Consult with your Travel Management Company. At Christopherson Business Travel, our Account Managers will work with your company’s travel manager to put together a managed travel program that considers all the different facets of business travel, including cost savings and cost containment.