Airplane Middle Seat
Airlines TouringTony's Top Tips! Travel

Buying a Middle Seat is an Option to Get More Room on All Main U.S. Airlines!

I can’t believe that I never thought about or knew that one could buy a middle seat in order to get more room.  It’s been common knowledge that “bigger” people could do this, but I didn’t know everyone could.  I always try to book a seat in the middle isle, hoping that no-one will book the middle seat(s), so I can stretch out, but turns out, the top 4 US based airlines allow you to buy that seat!  Each of the airlines have a different procedure on how to go about it, but non-the-less , its possible! I wish I would have known this on my last two ticket purchases , Dallas to Barcelona for $271 a piece (Thanks Scott’s Cheap Flights).  My Friend and I both bought 2 of these tickets for different dates. Looking back, I am so frustrated I did not know about this option, as I would have bought an extra seat for both tickets!

 The Airlines

Like I said before, each airline has a different process, not only buying the extra ticket, but also checking in, and boarding.  I will talk about the four major US based airlines, American, Delta, United, and Southwest, and briefly describe the process for each!

Southwest Airlines

Turns out, that Southwest has the most generous, and easy process for getting a second seat.  Southwest will actually refund the cost of the extra seat  if the plane takes off NOT FULL!  This is very generous!


You can Book a Southwest extra seat online!  You simply go online, select the to and from, and dates your traveling,  then select how many passengers.  If only you is flying and want a middle. seat, select two (2).  When it gets the the “Who’s Flying” section, you enter your full name , (First,Middle, Last) as passenger 1, and for the 2nd seat you put your first name, Middle name with the letters XS, and last name. Example, John Henry XS Baker. (If you DO NOT have a middle name, you would. simply put XS as your middle name), then press BUY.


You can check in as normal for both tickets, and select your “boarding position”, as Southwest does this different than everyone else!

Day of Travel

You have to see the agent at the gate before boarding in order to get a “placeholder” for the extra seat, along with refund instructions if the flight goes out not full.  Another great perk Southwest gives people who buy an extra seat is you can PRE-board early to select your two seats together (Since Southwest does not allow seat assignments).

Delta Airlines


Delta makes it a bit more difficult to book, as you book your original ticket online, and then call to book your second seat.  I guess one could just call Delta, if its not an international ticket (Delta charges $25 phone booking fee for international itineraries) , but since you cannot book the extra seat online they won’t charge you to book that one, and may would waive the fee to book them both… wouldn’t hurt to ask. Usually Delta is good about making exceptions, especially if you are a medallion member! Speaking of exceptions, Delta warns to NOT book Basic Economy fares because you cannot select seats with that fare, although, its been said they will make an exception and put your two seats together, it’s just a matter of finding the right agent, so your taking a chance.


You check in as normal, 24 hours before departure, as you will only have one record locator .

Day of Travel

Everything is the same for you the day of travel, you will have just one boarding pass to scan, as your extra seat in in the system, attached to your record locator.

American Airlines

American AirlinesBooking

Booking an extra seat with American is done by calling as well.  American will assign an extra ticket for you, with EXTS as the first name , and YOUR last name.  You will have 2 boarding passes. Apparently AA is much more generous when it comes to basic economy, as they WILL assign 2 seats together, without needing to make an exception.


Its Unclear to me if you check-In online for both tickets or how this works… AA is vague on this info, but I am sure they will tell you when booking.

Day of Travel

Again, its unclear what the process is, but I am assuming that you would scan both boarding passes. Ask AA when booking.

United Airlines


Booking an extra seat on United seems to be the same as AA, and Delta, you must call.  The agents will make a separate ticket for your extra seat with the same last name as yours, and the first name as “EXTRASEAT”. You can book basic economy, and then pay for the option (for both tickets) to select seats.


One assumes you would go online , 24 hours before departure and check-In both record locators (tickets).

Day of Travel

United does make you carry and use both boarding passes the day of travel.  They say they do it this way so they don’t sell the other seat.


More Details

Most of these, if not all these airlines allow you to earn extra “redeemable” miles on the second seat, but NOT Elite / Medallion Miles.  (Redeemable miles are usually based on the cost of the ticket , and are used to buy free flights.  Elite / Medallion miles are usually based on miles flown, and are used to get you to your next status)

Also, in most cases, you get double luggage allowance by buying an extra seat !

Its not clear to me about the “Tax” issue!  I know that American Airlines will NOT charge you tax on your second / Extra seat, but I cannot find a clear answer about this for other airlines.  This is awesome, because, for example, the $271 dollar tickets we just bought two Barcelona, the fare was $1 (one dollar) the rest was all taxes, so If I would have thought of this I could have got the extra seat for $1 (that is if Delta does NOT charge tax like American).


There are many instances when buying a middle or extra seat is a fabulous idea! Like I said I look back and can think of MANY times when it would have been great.  If the ticket is really cheap, then its a no brainer!  In many cases, if not most cases, it will still be cheaper than business class, by a lot , and you will earn double redeemable miles and double luggage, to boot!   In Europe, “Business Class” is just this, front seats that are the same as all the others with the middle seat blocked!

I will keep an eye out for this from now on , and you should too!  I actually argued with people not long ago about this, because I was sure it was not possible, so I am learning this myself!

Have you ever bought a middle seat, or would you? Comment below!

Thanks for reading, and PLEASE, TRAVEL MORE!

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