Sorry, it’s been a very busy and stressful week. You’ll learn all about it later. But for now just know that I should have a more interesting post up on Thursday.
One of the things on my mind is an upcoming trip to Maui. I’ve been checking the seat availability every other day to figure my chances at an upgrade. Looking good on the way back! Makes me think of this XKCD comic.
When I was a kid I loved getting to pilot my dad’s boat. One time I put the canopy up, maxed out the throttle, and came around a peninsula into a heavy wind gust, almost capsizing the boat. My brother and sister didn’t let me drive much after that. 🙁
When it comes to my dad’s plane, however, I don’t take the initiative to fly it very often. If you think an airliner is just an aluminum tub, a single-engine turboprop is like a crumpled piece of foil. I’ve done takeoffs a few times out of KPAO, soaring over the salt ponds. It’s actually quite fun, almost like Back to the Future since you have to get it up to 88 mph and pull back gently. But I don’t trust myself to land that thing. Not… one… bit…
Back to commercial airlines, always remember to select a seat when you book a ticket. It’s surprising how many people don’t bother. If you don’t do it in advance, you’ll be stuck with what’s left, and you may not even have a seat at all if the plane is oversold. If you want to avoid being denied boarding because of an oversold plane, the best guarantee is to have a seat assignment and to choose that seat wisely.
Even if you normally pick your seat, remember to check back often to determine if anything better has opened up. People cancel or get upgraded, opening up better seats. In fact, the seats that open up tend to be the choicest ones specifically because the elites (who get exit row seats) get upgraded and then leave those seats available again. In the old pre-merger Continental Airlines, you had to have Gold status (50K EQM) or higher to get an extra legroom seat in the bulkhead or exit row. However, anyone could claim one of those seats within the 24-hour check-in window, include some nobody.
It also pays to know which seat is the best. I don’t particularly mind bulkheads, but some people do. Sometimes legroom isn’t the issue but rather a slightly narrower seat (~1 inch) because the tray table has to be stowed in the arm rest. It also means you can’t flip up the arm rest and share some extra space with your companion. Check out SeatGuru to learn not just which coach seat is the best but also the differences between different seats in business or first class (FYI, some on United face backward now) or which ones have power ports.
So contact your airline and see what you can take advantage of. Unless you’re booking at the last minute, there are few good reasons to sit in an ordinary run-of-the-mill coach seat or get stuck in the back of the plane separated from your family. I’ve been in the middle seat in the last row of a Southwest jet before, and I don’t want it to happen to you, too!