Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Travel Tip Tuesdays: Emergency Exit Seats

Time for another Tuesday Travel Tip! This one perhaps is something a lot of people know about, but there are some tricks I've learnt along the way.

I know a lot of people like to request the Emergency Exit Rows on flights well in advance (for example, when they pay/book their flights). Well something I've found out along my travels is that in most cases, many airlines will in fact keep their Emergency Exit Rows completely unbooked. It's why you often find on a short haul flight they are indeed empty. It happens less on long haul flights because these seats are usually also kept for their frequent flyers needing upgrades or last minute flight changes.

For example when they get a frequent flyer/Gold membership customer who misses their flight or purchases a flexible ticket and invariably needs to be found a seat on your flight, the Emergency exits are allocated to them not because they are good seats, but because they may be the only free seats left! You'll also often get to the airport and see long 'waitlists' shown on the screens - these are both waitlists for those who are standby on a flight or who are waiting for an upgrade and yep, you guessed correctly, those emergency exit seats are good 'extra seat' buffers that they will fill on the day!

I came to this realisation when on several occasions travelling on two different continents and with several different airlines, I found myself being able to sweet talk the check in staff to find me a 'nice' seat. Each time they were able to give me an emergency exit seat and this was at airport check in several hours before boarding my flight.

My theory was proven correct recently when a kind counter staff offerred to find me some nice seats for my 3 flight homeward journey. On one of the flights - a short haul from London to Frankfurt - I found myself in the emergency exit alongside a couple who had indeed missed their earlier flight and this was their replacement.

It was actually the largest emergency exit row I've ever sat in...

So in essence - always ask to see if they can find you a nice seat while at airport check in, even if you have already checked in online! In a lot of cases they can't, but there's no harm trying! I understand this isn't the practice on all flights (some flights will now allow you to pay extra to book those seats so if enough people do this up front there will of course not be any of these seats available).


  1. I was once asked to sit in the emergency row w my boyfriend but I thought it would be smaller and squished... HOW wrong I was!! x

    1. Yeah the legroom is amazing isn't it? Though I tend to agree at times...it is a bit squishier because the arm rests don't move!

  2. I am flying in just over a week and forgot to prebook my seat online but need an isle seat, hopefully I can sweet talk them into that!

    1. What airline are you flying? You might still be able to online check-in 24 hours beforehand and nab yourself a much coveted aisle seat! Good luck :) But otherwise some nice chattiness at the checkin counter can't do any harm! ;)