2 Questions I’m Often Asked About Flights

Question 1:
I’m flying coach. Should I take the aisle seat, or take a middle seat in a bulkhead/premium economy?

I can be convinced either way on this one, but historically I have chosen to take the middle seat with additional legroom. It’s a tough call…I actually think width of seat (or not having someone next to you) makes as much (if not more) difference than legroom. So perhaps my more nuanced answer is this: if there is nobody next to you, I’d recommend the aisle seat. If there IS going to be someone in that middle seat, then go for the middle seat with the extra legroom. How do you handle this conundrum?

Question 2:
There are all sorts of ways to save money with hotels by waiting til the last minute (Priceline, Hotel Tonight, etc), so where should I look for great deals on last minute airfares?

It is true that you can often save money by booking hotels at the last minute – hotels (especially independent hotels) have decided that they are willing to use certain distribution partners (Hotel Tonight, for example) to offer lower priced rooms at the last minute. But that’s not how airlines work. In most cities there are lots of options for hotel rooms at the last minute (assuming there isn’t something nutty going on in that city). One hotel doesn’t have the pricing power to charge $1500 for a regular room at the last minute. Airlines, though, do have that power – whether it’s because a given flight is the only way to get home this evening, or because of loyalty to a certain carrier, airlines (generally) have the pricing power to charge $1500 for that last minute seat.

All of that is to say that there is no secret place to go for cheap last minute tickets. Fares, especially domestic fares, are basically the same across all booking channels (because airlines have agreements to make the lowest available fare available with each online travel agency). You can argue about whether that makes sense, but the end result is that airlines are not secretly making last minute inventory available someplace (well, not exactly — you can still find some deals on Priceline, though you don’t know times or the airlines you’re flying).


  1. Those middle exit row seats are often taken by enormously wide men who cross way over the arm rest.