When trying to decide if it is the best time to book a flight, people
automatically go to a plane's seating chart to judge how many seats are still
available. Book too soon and you may pay too much for your ticket. Wait too late
and only the most expensive seats are still available, if at all. Who can blame
them for wanting to get the best price, yet, not get shut out of buying a seat
all together. They see there are only one or two seats still available and panic
sets in. Well hold on a second. This is a myth.
From past experience, those seating charts do not always show how many seats are
still available. We have all been there, you have your preferred location on the
plane where you like to sit. You book your ticket and those seats are already
full and you get stuck choosing somewhere else to sit. The day of your flight,
you board only to find half empty rows, including the one where you wished to be
seated. If you do not believe me and want further proof, then read no further
and Google "do airlines always show all available seats?"
For an example of this, at the time of this writing, delta.com, Delta flight 654
on January 4, is showing 7 seats available in coach class. If I try to book 9
seats it is not telling me the flight is sold out, though they are being
sold as the most expensive coach ticket-- full fare Y class ;) About $1000 one
FlightStats and you will see confirmation that there are indeed 9 seats
still available on flight 654. You will also see that there are 7 tickets
available on the earlier flight 716 being sold under the same Y class ticket.
How does the process work? Go to FlightStats'
Flight Seat Availability tool. Enter your departure airport, airport of
arrival, departure date, preferred flight time and cabin of service. If you
already know that you are looking for a specific flight go to "advanced" and you
have the option of entering you airline, where you would like to make a
connection, if any, or which airports you are not willing to connect through and
a fare. You are not required to make all of the selections.
For example to the right you will see I searched seat availability for a
departure from Aruba's Reina Beatrix International Airport to Atlanta's
Hartsfield Airport. I entered my departure date, and under advanced, selected my
airline, Delta, as well as excluded connections in La Guardia or JFK from my
on the graphics for a larger views.
Select the blue arrow in the results and you will see a display with the flight
information- flight number, departure and arrival times, equipment (what type of
jet) as well as how many seats still available in each class of service.
The results will show not only the number of seats still available in which
class of service as well, as under which fare class in order from most expensive
to cheapest. In the above example you will see that there are 7 Y class fare
seats still available on flight 716 and there are 9 Y class fare seats available
on flight 654.
Need to know how many seats there are in each class of service? See
Delta's site and choose your jet type. For example, flight 716 on a
738 (737-800) has 16 seats in first/business class and 144 seats in coach class.
If there are few, or no discounted fares still available, which in this case
there are not, the flight as you can already see is almost full. One time where
this is not the case, is if you are close to your date of travel and they are
selling seats at a discount to fill the seats they still have left to sell.