If you need to get some work done on your next flight, or hate being crammed next to other passengers, having an empty seat next to you is great. Here's how you can nab the perfect seat right at the gate. Photo by Alper Çuğun.
If you're travelling with someone, you can usually get an empty seat next to you by booking the aisle and window seats of the same row. If you're on your own, however, you can slightly increase your chances by picking the right seats to begin with, or use this trick Daraius Dubash shares at Million Mile Secrets. While you're waiting around at the airport, check the seating chart on your chosen airline's smartphone app (most airlines have them now). If the seats around you are all full, use the app to switch your seat right at the gate. Dubash claims this can even work up to the last minute before boarding.
There a few caveats to this trick, however. Depending on the airline, you may not be able to change your seat assignment after check-in (Dubash had success with this tactic on US airlines United and Delta). In that case, use the app to check the seating chart for open spots, then ask an employee at the departure gate if they will let you switch. And of course, there's always the chance the flight will be full or a last minute seat reassignment will undo your efforts. So it may not always work, but it's worth a try if you need some extra space.
The 3 Secrets to Getting an Empty or More Expensive Seat on Flights [Million Mile Secrets]