How to find the best seat on the flight that’s right for you

Due to increased competition and a global pandemic, airline ticket prices are falling. And they are likely to remain so.

Remember, however, that cheap fares like Anchorage-Seattle for $ 89 one-way are for Basic Economy seats (or Saver, on Alaska Airlines). Those who purchase these tickets are the last to board, cannot get a seat in advance, and cannot use any upgrades.

I like to play the loyalty game and the upgrade lottery, so I rarely buy the cheapest fare.

A first class seat is a wonderful thing. Often, however, the cost of the extra comfort is just too high. But what about the seats just behind First Class? Delta calls it Comfort +. Alaska calls it Premium Class. There’s extra legroom, free drinks, and dedicated airspace for your carry-on baggage. There are still 3×3 seats, but just the extra legroom makes a big difference.

So how much are these extra seats? It actually depends.

There are many factors that determine the additional cost of your premium seat. If you’ve achieved Elite status with an airline, your premium seat will cost less.

Just looking at the variety of ticket prices can give you a headache. Between Anchorage and Seattle on November 10, Alaska Airlines one-way tickets range from $ 89 to $ 169 for Saver tickets. If you buy these cheap tickets you will not be upgraded to Premium even if you want to pay the difference.

First, you need to increase your seat selection up to the main cabin. There is no difference in the actual aircraft seat (or legroom) when you pay more for a main cabin seat. You can pre-book your place. This is the big advantage.

Once you have paid extra for a main cabin seat, you can then pay extra for Premium class. On Alaska Airlines, on this Seattle flight date, the supplement is between $ 44 and $ 54 for a one-way ticket. It varies with each flight. For a good daytime flight, I found a seat for $ 173 one way. A first-class seat goes from $ 298 to $ 598 for a one-way ticket.

On Delta, the total all-inclusive cost for a Comfort + seat on November 10 is $ 159 one way. For an additional $ 108 one-way (for a total of $ 267), you can travel first class.

Between Anchorage and Los Angeles on November 11, tickets cost a little more, but not by much. Alaska flies nonstop. A Saver seat on November 11 costs $ 142 one way. To have a chance to enjoy the nicest seats, you first need to get a main cabin seat for $ 179. Then it’s an additional $ 99 ($ ​​278 in total) for a premium seat.

With MVP Gold status, I can get a premium seat for less: $ 238 one way. Or, I can play the upgrade lottery and expect to get a free upgrade before the flight time.

Delta charges only $ 1 less for a Comfort + seat between Anchorage and Los Angeles. In addition, you have to change planes in Seattle.

It’s a long way from Anchorage to Fort Myers, Florida. And this is a new route for Alaska Airlines. The route was also on my list of the top 10 cheap airline tickets all summer long. Alaska and Delta both charge between $ 101 and $ 107 for the cheapest (one-way) fare, departing on December 1 or 2. Alaska charges an additional $ 35 to upgrade to the main cabin. Delta charges $ 25. Alaska charges $ 345 one way for a premium seat. Delta charges $ 271 one way for a Comfort + seat.

Between Anchorage and Honolulu, Alaska Air is the only carrier offering non-stop service. On November 10, the cheapest fare is $ 228 one way. For a premium seat, it costs $ 352 one way.

Some European destinations are on sale again. To fly from Anchorage to Barcelona between December 1 and December 12, Delta charges $ 568 round trip for the cheapest of the cheap seats. To travel to the end in Comfort +, the cost is $ 796 round trip. Move a day earlier or a day later – and the price will be different.

If you have a few Delta Miles you want to burn, that’s 50,000 SkyMiles for a Comfort + round-trip ticket. But because Delta works with AirFrance, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and a bunch of other partner airlines in its SkyTeam alliance, you’ll find that not all seats are created equal. On AirFrance and KLM, you will benefit from economy seats… closer than the Comfort +. Double check your itinerary.

Alaska Airlines does not have a premium tier mileage redemption tier. You get either a coach seat or a first class seat. If you want to travel from Anchorage to Honolulu for miles on November 10, it will cost you 15,000 miles. To sit in premium class, it will cost an additional $ 84 for a one-way ticket.

One of Alaska’s newest destinations is Belize. The service starts at the end of November. Fly on December 2 for 15,000 miles by coach. To upgrade to premium, you pay $ 72 for your Anchorage-Los Angeles flight, then an additional $ 89 for the LA-Belize flight.

The premium seat rating is one of the main reasons to get elite status on an airline. Typically, carriers seek to reward their frequent travelers with the nicest seats. In addition to its own premium seating inventory, Alaska Airlines has an agreement where its elite travelers (MVP, MVP Gold) have access to American Airlines premium economy seats at no additional cost.

Premium seats are another incentive to earn frequent flyer miles. Especially on long haul international flights, you can often get a good flight with miles much cheaper than with cash.

Unfortunately, there are no “at-a-glance” guides for comparing the cost of premium seats. With Google Flights, you can select “premium economy” to search for Delta Comfort + offers. But Alaska Airlines’ premium seats are not showing up. You need to go to the airline’s website and go through the flight selection process before you can see what a premium seat costs.

There is always a market for the cheapest seats. But for those of us who appreciate a little more legroom, premium economy seats deliver just that. And in airplanes today, that can sometimes make all the difference.

About Theresa Burton

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