Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Taking a flight this summer? Getting seats next to each other could be difficult. That’s because airlines are reserving more seats for passengers willing to pay for prime seating, leaving less seats for the rest of us.
But what is considered prime seating, you ask? Those would be the much sought after seats by the window, aisle or up at the front of the plane. Some airlines are designating the first handful of rows after first class as prime seating, which means there’s no guarantee you’ll get to sit next to your spouse or even your kids.
Jennine Lombardi with AAA says, “Traveling is flying a la carte. We saw it with baggage fees, we saw it with meals and this is just one more revenue stream for carriers.”
And plenty of people are willing to pay a few more bucks for a premium spot, including Deborah Cotton. Cotton prefers a seat in the first eight rows, allowing her to be among the first to board and exit the plane.
Lombardi says premium seats can cost an extra 15 to 80 bucks, per ticket, each way, depending on the length of the flight. But while some people are willing to pay more to stick together, it’s a cost that just isn’t in the budget for some families.
“So if you’re trying to sit together and not pay extra, it’s more difficult to do,” Lombardi explained.
Frequent flyer Shirley Miller told NewsChannel 9, “Your whole vacation is: You go on a plane, you sit together; you start your vacation together, you end your vacation together. That’s the whole excitement of being on vacation.”
One family we spoke with said it’s not a major issue. They just want to get there.
“As long as we get a safe flight and get to where we’re going, you know, you have other entertainment, your iPad, TV, so we’re okay with being split up if we have to be,” Kathy Quigley said.
The best way to ensure you do get a seat next to your family, without having to pay extra for it is to book early.
There are other ways to find adjacent seats, such as:
- Visit the airline's website five days before departure. That's when some "elite" frequent fliers are upgraded to first class, opening up their coach seats.
- Another wave of upgrades occurs every 24 to 48 hours. Use ExpertFlyer.com, which notifies travelers for free when a window or aisle seat opens up. For 99 cents, it also sends an email if two adjacent seats become available.
- Check in 24 hours in advance when airlines start releasing seats held for passengers with disabilities or children traveling alone. Airline gate agents can sometimes put families in the few remaining seats set aside.
- Consider airlines like Southwest, whose passengers pick seats at boarding.