Flying on a plane in the “middle seat” is said to be “the worst part of traveling”. Being tall in and sitting in the middle seat on along flight is one of the worst things to make who fly a full flight.
If this fails (it often will), you can try again at check-in, where you may have much better success. I would suggest giving this a try using online check-in, which is available up to 24 hours before most flights. You can often pick your seat assignment during online check-in, although, as noted above, it costs an extra fee on some airlines. If you hate the middle seat as much as the survey suggests most people do, the fee may be worth it. In my own experience, however, I have frequently found the option to change to a better seat unavailable using online check-in, as the best seats are hard to come by — bad seats are easy!
The Middle Seat is the WORST!
If you don’t have any luck online, you can try again at the airport check-in counter — just be sure to arrive early to get ahead of everyone else trying to do the same thing. You can increase your chances by not only asking for a seat change or an affordable upgrade, but also inquiring whether you might be booked into an exit row seat (which may cost extra). If the check-in agents are unable to do this for you, I suggest you try again at the gate. These folks have final say on seating arrangements, and in my experience this last opportunity is also your best opportunity. Your odds get better if you are among the first in line, are polite and have some mitigating circumstance (this is the time to speak up if you’re a frequent flier on that airline or if you’re so tall that sitting in a middle seat is particularly uncomfortable for you).
Fliers said they have offered fellow travelers money or drinks to switch seats, paid the fee to upgrade to a premium or exit row, feigned illness or switched flights. Some travelers even report buying two seats, just to have an empty one next to them.
“I told them I’d be willing to take another flight,” he said. “I’ll pretty much do just about anything to avoid sitting in that notorious, infamous middle seat.”
In the end, analysts say, airlines are selling a form of real estate, but they are trading in square inches, not square feet.