I've got row 17 seats even without being on the flight. Last year i accompanied my parents to the airport and assisted them on check-in as well as cut through the line. 757 CCS-MIA flight was seasonally scheduled as a 763 instead. (thanks flightaware)
Arrived at the check-in counter. Handed passports. Enquire about equipment change. Asked row 17 seats, AA agent said not possible. Then she realized i was not a passenger. I politely asked for the supervisor. Supervisor came and i started a passionate talk about my interest of airline industry, high value customer of AA ....
Supervisor was in shock how i knew the aircraft's exits row by heart. The FF numbers of my mom & dad and the existence of row 17. It only took 5 minutes. Technique is always to ASK. It was awesome to get them row 17 seats even if i was not flying.
I have sucessfully grabbed every row 17 seat i can humanly can. No missed attempts, it has been sweet- even if it has only been 6 flights. Ask, ask and be nice. This has always worked for me