Budget airlines use an army of dark UX patterns aimed at robbing you of your hard earned $$$s, £££s, and €€€s after you’ve bought your ticket. Luckily, you can use some of their tools to your advantage. I discovered a way to get premium seats without paying any extra on EasyJet. It probably works for other airlines as well though.
The trick is to beating them at their own game when they try to upsell you on all sorts of crap during the check-in process.
- Travel insurance? Got my own, thanks.
- Car rental or hotel? I booked this flight with Skyscanner, go figure.
- Priority boarding? Like it’ll get you there faster than everyone else on the same damn plane 😂.
There is also the option to select a seat. The prices at EasyJet range from around £4 and go up to £20 for the very first row with extra legroom. The seat selector allows you to select seats, obviously. What it also does is tell you which seats have been taken and assigned. If you choose not to pay for a specific seat, you’ll get one automatically assigned - starting with the cheapest available seat. If you’re traveling with someone it’ll try to put you together - if possible.
So the trick is to not check in until around one or two days before the departure, and use the seat selector to ensure all the cheap seats in the back have been taken, and check in then. Or wait for another hour or so, and then check again. I usually manage to get me a of 2nd or 4th row seats!
But… there is obviously a risk.
Firstly, airlines overbook regularly. While it’s not a huge problem in Europe, but in the States they do it a lot more (looking at you, United!). Leaving your check in to the last possible moment could potentially leave you without a seat. I haven’t seen it in action yet, but I imagine it’s likely.
Second, you can be too late, and all the adjacent seats will have been taken. In which case you’ll get assigned separate, shitty seats next to the bloody engine, surrounded by crying toddlers, or both. Risk reward.
Lastly, it works due to their algorithm prioritising adjacent seats. Flying solo you’ll have to wait for longer, as there will be more lingering seats that stay unused for longer.