It used to be that when you flew, as soon as you made a reservation, you could choose your seat. These days, that’s changed. On Southwest, my favorite of all airlines, you get a letter and number assigned when you check in. You board in the order of your letter/number combination, from Group A1 to Group C 60 or something thereabouts. When you board, you choose your seat from those remaining.
Overseas, it’s a different story and, of course, money is the reason. I’m flying Lufthansa today to Frankfurt, Germany and then on a different plane (still Lufthansa) to Basel, Switzerland. Tickets for such travel are not cheap, even for “economy”, the lowest of the low, both in seat choice and luggage allowance (1 checked bag, 50 pound limit), one carry-on, and a small personal item to fit under the seat in front of you. Southwest allows 2 free bags, one of their big draws, along with reasonable prices and cheerful employees.
So when I bought my ticket, no seat choices were available. A few days ago, an email informed me that I could now choose a seat…for a price. It said, “starting at $11”, but that wasn’t for the long, overseas leg of the flight. That cost was $35. An upgrade was also offered for sale, but when I went to find out how much (just curiosity), I was informed none were on offer. I was left to decide whether I wanted to buy the seat of my choice.
As I used credit card points to get the flight almost free and because 7+ hours is a long time and because I hope to sleep on the way over, I decided to buy seating on the two long legs of the flight. Quite a few seats were already taken, but my decision was now window or aisle.
Window. Advantages: being able to look out (although the first leg is mostly at night) and having the side of the plane to lean into. Disadvantages: having to climb past the other two people in the row to use the bathroom or walk around.
Aisle. Advantages: ease of access to the rest of the plane. Disadvantages: the other two people climbing across me and not being able to lean on anything.
So which do you choose when you fly? Aisle or window and why? Have you ever paid to choose a seat? Having been stuck in the middle row on the flight back the last time I was overseas, I thought more favorably of that latter option than I normally would or if I’d paid full price for the flight.
I decided on an aisle seat. I’m taking an inflatable neck pillow to deal with the problem of a lolling head that might end up on the shoulder of a stranger or wake me up while making me look like a bobblehead doll. I don’t find the curve of the aircraft all the comfortable and I like being able to get out when I want. With any luck, my fellow seatmates will sleep most of the way and won’t need to get up. With any luck, I’ll get some sleep as well.