Alaska Airlines Best Seats in Coach, No Upgrade Required

I’m a researcher at heart. Whether if it’s for my job or if I’m buying a new Bluetooth speaker, I’ll research the shit out of it. It’s a delicate balance between optimizing and obsession. Throughout my years of travel, I’ve found countless resources that have made traveling just a little better. Last year I wrote about my favorite coach seats on Norwegian and today I’m writing about my favorite coach seats on Alaska.

When it comes time to pick seats on a flight, my go-to resource is always Seat Guru. It’s a review-based site that you guessed it: reviews airline seats. The site is easy to use and once you’ve figured out what airline and specific airplane you’re flying you can view the best seats for that flight. Seat Guru does not take into account the cost of buying a seat or the availability for a specific flight, so you’ll have to look that up when you’re buying your ticket. On a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, we fly Alaska on their 737-800/900 airplane. When it came time to pick seats for the flight I checked out the seat reviews on Seat Guru. First thing I noticed is that the premium economy seats had higher reviews, but I also noticed specifically that row 17 had extra leg room and was considered regular economy. I went back to Alaska’s site and tried to get these seats. Unfortunately, they were only available if I were to buy a refundable ticket, costing hundreds more, so I went ahead and booked the closest 2 seats together.

Here's what Seat Guru looks like.

Flash forward to check in time. Alaska allows you to check in 24 hours before a flight and being conditioned to flying Southwest, I always try to check in as soon as I can. In the check in process, I was asked to confirm my seats. Out of curiosity, I checked the seating chart again and what did I find… Empty row 17 seats now bookable for those in regular economy. I quickly changed our seats and we were set! Alaska apparently releases emergency row seats when check in is available.

So… how were the seats? They were fairly standard exit row seats, but they had much more legroom than Alaska’s traditional economy seats. They also reclined, which some exit row seats do not. Another bonus was that the seat next to us was empty as I suspect many don’t change their seats after check in. Overall, we were really happy with the extra leg and additional room next to us. I secretly hope not too many people start doing this as they are now my go-to seats when flying Alaska!

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