Flying in the middle seat is rarely a pleasant experience, but somebody has to sit there, especially if a flight is overbooked.

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You can minimize your chances of getting stuck in the middle by planning ahead. Here’s how.

  • Most airlines let you select your seats on many paid fares and award fares. If you don’t select seats when you purchase your ticket, you can log into your account and select them later.
  • Don’t book basic economy fare, which doesn’t allow you to select a seat.
  • Book early boarding, which will cost $15 each way.
  • Check in early. If you fly Southwest, for example, check in 24 hours early and you’ll get in the earliest boarding group.
  • Paying for an upgrade is one of the best ways to sit where you want. You don’t even have to upgrade to a different fare class. Many times, you can pay an extra $15-$40 for “premium seats” with extra leg room or a preferred spot on the plane.