Flying Smart: Should You Pay For Seat Selection?

You’re on the airline website, you’ve chosen your flights, and then you’re given a choice: pay for seat selection now (the fee is typically $10 to $100 depending on the seat), or wait and your seats will be assigned at the airport for free.

Should you pay for seat selection? Or, should you wait until you’re at the airport?

This one is oh-so-easy: pay for seat selection at the time of purchasing your flights.

Why Is Paying For A Seat Worth it?

Because without an assigned seat you might get bumped off an oversold flight (you might even get bumped twenty-four hours before your flight). And you may not know you’ve been bumped until you get to the airport.

Here’s how this works: the airlines—understandably—want full flights. There will always be some passengers who change their plans at the last minute. So airlines overbook flights. But what happens when everyone shows up?

When A Flight Is Overbooked And Everyone Shows Up, Something’s Gotta Give

Oftentimes, airlines will offer a voucher to any passenger who is willing to take a later flight.

But here’s another way this plays out: the airline bumps those passengers who do not have assigned seats. So, if you don’t have an assigned seat, then you’re fair game to be bumped.

And once that happens, you’re not going to necessarily be put on the next flight, you’re going to be put on the next available flight: and that could very well be a day or more later.

And, at that point, your travel day is probably over. Or, if it’s not over, you’re probably in for a long day.

Conclusion: Paying For A Seat Is Always Worth It

Here’s what matters when flying: getting to your destination with a minimum of problems and a minimum of delays. So, if you have to pay a fee to select a seat, then pay the fee.

When you arrive on time—for the family gathering, or the wedding, or whatever it is that got you traveling—you’re going to be glad you spent a few dollars to make your trip as problem-free as possible.

Free Download

How To Choose A Summer Adventure For Your Child

Get first-hand insights into what you should look for when choosing the next summer travel adventure for your child.



    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Apply for Trip

Apply for trip

Info Sessions

info sessions