If you missed part 1, recommend you read it first.
Now is the time. They’ve started boarding and you are now on the plane. This is where things really get tricky, though. Many many many options, each with varying levels of risk/reward ratios.
If you like the window seat and you are B30 or below, you are probably in luck. Grab that window seat and wait for your friend.
If you like the middle seat… WHAT!?!? Not sure why you are even reading this article…
If you like the aisle seat… you have the most control over your situation. There will be plenty of people sitting in the window seats and you’ll have plenty of options of rows to sit in. But here’s where logic turns upside down. Realize that the row you sit in, someone else will eventually have to choose that row as well. There are two schools of thought here. 1) Pick a row that has a skinny person in the window seat. This will lead to your row being highly valued when the plane starts to get full and someone else skinny is likely to snatch that seat. Three skinny people in a single row…? Yup, that’s like first class in Southwest’s book. The other side is that a big person might see the row and think they’ve hit the jackpot being able to sit between two skinny people. Those are the risks folks. 2) Pick a row that has a big person in the window seat. This, honestly is a much safer option. Your row will not look all too appetizing and if by chance the flight is not full, you may have just scored an empty seat neighbor. If the flight is full, though, the person in the middle might encroach on your space, but it’s really just more unfortunate for them.
This phase mostly applies to those (like myself) that prefer a window seat. If you made a friend on the outside (which I never do) you should be all set. Put your bag on the seat and wait for your friend to arrive. Make sure you put your bag on the middle seat though as to allow someone else to sit on the aisle seat. Play your cards carefully if your new friend arrives and sits with an empty seat between you both. It can be awkward to ask them to move over so they can sit next to you. The preferred approach at this point should you find yourself in this situation is to start telling them about this blog post. If you have a smart phone, offer to share, enticing them to move a seat closer.
And as stated in Part 1, don’t leave your bag on the seat too long. If your friend doesn’t show and the plane starts to fill, people might get angry and think that you are just trying to get a row to yourself (which you probably are). Trust me, you do not want a four hour plane ride with people that hate you.
So if you did not make a friend, you have a few options. You can either accept your fate (as I normally do) or you can be proactive (which I’m typically way too much of a coward to try).
For those proactive types, as people board the plane, view yourself as those boarding would. If a family of larger than average people get close to your seat, start coughing uncontrollably. Throw in a few sneezes. Poke your eyes to make them red. Think about your dog dying to make your blood shot eyes shiny and teary. Whatever you do… DO NOT read a book.
But this is where your situational awareness needs to be on the highest of alerts. You must be able to turn it on and off as quickly as possible. When the inadequate seat neighbors move by and an adequate seat neighbor draws near, suck it in and grab that book. Nothing is more attractive to a potential seat neighbor than a skinny book worm.
I must caution you. Passing gas may in the moment seem like a good plan to avoid the bad seat partners or any seat partner at all. However, once the gas leaves your body, there is no level if sniffing or waving that will give you any control over when the stench leaves the area. Most likely, you will just end up with seat neighbor enemies before the wheels even leave the ground.
This my readers is probably the most important step. Whatever the outcome of your campaign for the perfect Southwest seat… you must accept it and make the best of it. Books could be written about how to avoid talking with your seat neighbor should they choose to be chatty. Whether the flight is an hour or four hours, make sure you greet your seat neighbor as if you were hoping all along that they were person that you wanted to sit next to, make them feel welcome. But immediately after, pick up your book and face more towards the window than your new seat neighbor. They will be happy about being welcomed but will also get the hint.
Best of luck out there Southwest flyers…