Wasn’t traveling so much simpler before the airlines started deconstructing their pricing strategy? Everyone could check in at least 2 bags for free. Flights came with complimentary meals. And you didn’t have to pay extra to sit in an exit row or bulkhead seat.
Nowadays those “perks” are reserved for the airline’s best customers – people logging at least 25,000 miles annually. Everyone else? We have to pay an extra $15-$100+ for seats with more legroom.
The good news is that there are a couple of scenarios where, if you resist the urge to pay for these preferred seats, there is a good chance you’ll actually end up in one!
1) You’re flying alone and the seating chart indicates there are only a few to no regular seats left. But, there lots of preferred seats available!
Chances are if you leave your seat assignment to the airline, you’ll end up in one of the preferred seats anyway. Since you have a ticket, they have to seat you somewhere…and if there aren’t any regular seats left, they’ll seat you in the section that still has availability – the “preferred” section! Cha-ching!
2) You’re flying with others and all of you are on the same ticket. The only way to all sit together is if you pay extra for the preferred seats.
Again, wait for the airline to give you seat assignments. Airlines always try to seat people from the same ticket together so there’s a good chance they’ll place you in the preferred seats – free of charge.
What about the other times? Paying extra for the preferred seat may make sense — you get more legroom, board earlier, and deplane sooner (preferred seats are usually in the front of the cabin)…. but you know, those seats are so much better when you get them for freeeeeeeee!