When readers shared their own travel tips and several really stood out as worth highlighting. Some I even disagree with, like this one from Shaun
If a plane seat map looks full (and has no good seats left anyway), don’t select a seat or call to de-select one. You’ll end up with a seat request card and get a seat assignment at the gate. More often than not, a bulkhead will open up because they are blocked off for people with disabilities, etc, and aren’t always used.
To be sure this is usually how things will work out. If you have no elite status and don’t want to spend money for a ‘better’ coach seat assignment (that may be more legroom, or may not be a seat closer to the front or an aisle) then if you don’t have any seat assignment at all and the seat map fills up you may end up with that ‘better’ seat for free.
Elites who were assigned to those seats for free will clear their upgrades. Some seats may be blocked for airport assignment and those are frequently better seats, that could be unblocked for top elites or full fare passengers. They could go to you.
But that is a risky strategy indeed.
If you do not have elite status and you do not have a seat assignment, you are the one most likely to get left behind.
Sure, an overbooked airline will ask for volunteers will to take compensation in exchange for giving up their seat and traveling later. And there are often such volunteers. But there aren’t always.
Priority for getting one of the seats that opens up will generally go to higher elite status passengers. Without status you’re at the bottom, if there are a shortage of volunteers then you could wind up out of luck.
Sure, the airline is going to owe you compensation for involuntary denied boarding. But you may not want that. You may want to get where you’re going.
To me, a seat assignment is usually better than no seat assignment if you’re a passenger without elite status. If the better seat matters to you, consider whether it matters enough to pay cash for — because taking a chance with no seat assignment is still paying for the better seat, just in the risk-adjusted cost of not getting onto the flight.
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