Paying Extra for Seats: Travel Do or Don’t?

Planning your next vacation? Wondering if you should throw down the cash for a specific seat on the plane or an upgrade?

Here is a quick guide to help you make your decision.

Frontier Airlines

If you have a short connecting flight…DON’T!

Most connecting flights from a larger airport to a smaller regional airport are on jets or similar aircraft, which means that all of the seats are the same! You will be throwing money away unnecessarily.

A Colorado example would be the puddle-jumper from Denver to Grand Junction or Montrose; it’s about an hour flight and the plane is tiny with the same seats throughout the plane. Your “upgrade” doesn’t actually make a difference in seat quality – save your money.

A friend of mine and I flew to North Carolina once, he was being sweet and purchased upgraded seats for our flight from Charlotte, NC to Wilmington, NC. Now, this is about a 30 minute flight on a teeny jet, so all of the seats are exactly the same! It was a nice gesture, but in the end not necessary. Could have saved that money for ice cream on the beach! 

If you are flying a budget airline (Frontier, Spirit, etc.)…DO if your flight is more than 2 hours….DON’T if it’s a shorter flight.

Sitting in a cramped airplane seat for more than 2 hours can be bad enough, but then factoring in the poor quality, highly uncomfortable budget airline seats and you’re on the way to Ouch-My-Back, USA.

My recommendation is to save your money on a shorter flight (ex: Denver – Houston, ~1.5 hours), but spend the money to get a comfortable seat if your flight is a bit longer (2+ hours) – you’ll be glad you did.

If flying alone…DON’T! If flying with someone or as a family…DO!

Some airlines *cough, Frontier, cough* will make you pay to pre-select your seat. As an extension to the point above, this can be a waste of money for shorter flights…unless you are travelling with someone.

Airlines are becoming more and more strict about asking someone to “switch seats with me so my s.o. and I can sit together” – the airline stewards will probably not allow it due to security issues and weight distribution, even if you do find someone willing to give up their window seat for a middle seat.

If you know for sure that you’d like to be side-by-side, or are travelling as a family, make sure to make seat arrangements in advance.

If you are flying across country (5+ hours) or internationally…DO!

Ok, this is most likely going to cost quite a bit extra for long-haul flights and can certainly be deemed an unnecessary expense, but if you have it in your budget go for it.

Paying to upgrade your seat can make a world of difference, from more comfortable seats to the quality of meal. Sometimes the upgrade will come with added perks like eye masks, ear plugs, free booze, blankets, and snacks!

Enjoy your time in the sky!



Author, Because She Can – Travel Blog


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