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Would you drive to another airport to avoid a middle seat?

Would you drive to another airport to avoid a middle seat?

Old Jul 27, 11, 3:59 pm
  #1  
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Would you drive to another airport to avoid a middle seat?

I recently joined my extended family on a cruise. My brother, father and some other family members were already booked MEM-SEA with a connection in SLC. When I checked availability, using miles, all that was available was middle seats. I did not look forward to sitting in a middle seat for five hours. Plus, I had my children, and i doubted that they would want to sit next to strangers, either.

My brother was looking over my shoulder as I was checking flights and I started checking availability from Birmingham and Huntsville (I live just over an hour southeast of Memphis). My brother asked what I was doing and I explained that I might drive to Birmingham, Huntsville or Jackson if I could find a plane with better seating arrangements, i.e., where my children and I wouldn't be stuck in center seats.

Long story short, my brother thought it absolutely ridiculous that I would drive two or more extra hours in order to avoid four or five hours in a middle seat. To me it seemed perfectly reasonable.

In the end I flew out a day early and stayed in a hotel. My brother found this equally ridiculous, but I'm glad I ensured myself a comfortable seat. (It doesn't help that I don't have any Delta status these days, and so get lousy seat selection).

Just curious how many of you have been willing to drive a couple of extra hours to a different airport in order to avoid a middle seat? Are you willing to fly on a different day, as I did?
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Old Jul 27, 11, 4:20 pm
  #2  
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Drive two hours: no.

Fly a different day: maybe...

Seattle a day early, in the summertime? YES - excellent call, Seattle rocks in the summer. Lots of stuff there that kids will dig, too. ^

If flying a day early wasn't really feasible, all hope is not lost:

(1) Check the website often - you might just randomly get lucky and someone has canceled, upgraded, or changed seats from the back of the plane into an elite-only seat.

(2) Figure out exactly when that airline's elite upgrades process. That might free up some seats in coach. Granted, some of these free seats might come out of the elite-only area that you can't see but all you need is one or two non-middles to shake free.

(3) At the airport, the system may open up more seats for assignment. If you check in early you might have a better chance of getting a non-middle or two.

(4) If the airline offers any kind of "elite for a day" option, maybe buy a couple seats with this. Especially if you intend to check two or four total bags...sometimes it's not a bad deal, especially if it frees up one of those front-aisle or front-window seats.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 4:53 pm
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If I were flying alone or with just my husband, then I would take the middle seat. No problem. I've had middle seats, and sometimes the window or aisle guy doesn't show up. Great, I now have what I wanted.

If I were flying with small children, and middle seats were the only ones available, then hell yes, I would look to any other alternative. I would not want to burden other passengers with a child when I have no immediate way to monitor and correct their behavior. I would not want to risk my child being exposed to inappropriate behavior from a random adult seated next to them.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 4:57 pm
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I would never fly on day of to a cruise. Doesn't take much to miss its departure and you are then on your own to the first port of call. As to middle seats, I agree. 2 hours is nothing to beat TCON in middle seat.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Rebelyell View Post
my brother thought it absolutely ridiculous that I would drive two or more extra hours in order to avoid four or five hours in a middle seat.
... and he's not alone.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 4:57 pm
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Yes, I would/have/will drive to IAH or SAT
instead of AUS home.

More for basic availability,
than seats, though.

Parking is cheaper in those places,
anyway ...
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Old Jul 27, 11, 7:36 pm
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First, you should always fly in the day before a cruise. There are too many things that can go wrong if you wait for the day of.

Would I pack up the family and drive hours? Not a chance. I know the odds are probably pretty good that a better seat will open up or that I would be able to arrange a swap with somebody on the plane so that the family could sit together.

I'd gamble that against the drive.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 7:43 pm
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I agree with your brother, this is quite ridiculous. A middle seat is really not that big of a deal. I wouldn't even drive an extra 15 minutes to a different airport for this. If you have kids, you can always ask someone to switch seats so that you can sit with them. And seats do open up later on. I have successfully got window seats by asking at the gate, even if the website showed only middle seats available.

But, to each his own. If this matters so much to you, then it is perfectly fine to do as you see fit.

Last edited by cbn42; Jul 27, 11 at 7:48 pm
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Old Jul 27, 11, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by cordelli View Post
Would I pack up the family and drive hours? Not a chance. I know the odds are probably pretty good that a better seat will open up or that I would be able to arrange a swap with somebody on the plane so that the family could sit together.
+1

Of course, I only have one possible choice of airport to drive to so that simplifies things!
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Old Jul 27, 11, 8:34 pm
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A middle seat will change your travel plans completely? Wow
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Old Jul 27, 11, 9:44 pm
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2 hours drive to make sure you are able to sit next to your kids seems like a no brainer... leaving a day earlier is even a better soln.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 10:24 pm
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A lot of you seem certain that I would have had no problem getting my seat changed, or absent that getting two people to give up their aisle or window seats to change for middle seats so I could sit with my kids (aged 12 and 11). From the posts on flyertalk, that are a lot of people (myself included) who would not change an aisle or a window seat for a middle seat for any reason. I don't think I could even bring myself to ask.

I do agree with those of you who say it is always better to fly in the day before when going on a cruise.
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Old Jul 27, 11, 10:33 pm
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Originally Posted by cordelli View Post
Would I pack up the family and drive hours? Not a chance. I know the odds are probably pretty good that a better seat will open up or that I would be able to arrange a swap with somebody on the plane so that the family could sit together.
There's a thread (actually, quite a few) on FT about parents who buy seats on flights with no seats together, then expect other people to switch seats to accommodate their needs. Here's one: UA seated my kids all around the plane. Solution?

Frankly, I applaud the OP for selecting flights in advance that will accommodate his or her family. ^
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Old Jul 27, 11, 10:41 pm
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No I would not, but I live 3 minutes from John Wayne and drive the hated 405 to LAX to fly PS to NYC ( and of course go nonstop) but would make the drive anyway for PS.
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Old Jul 28, 11, 12:11 am
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You have an open mind and your brother's is closed! You did the right thing.
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