There is one seating arrangement that outshines all others: an entire row to yourself.
Even for the most frequent fliers, boarding an airplane is a game of chance.
Sometimes you can be seated next to a screaming baby (not their fault, but still), or find yourself amid some of the chattiest people on Earth. But there is one seating arrangement that outshines all others: an entire row to yourself.
Although scoring an empty row may seem like the elusive Holy Grail of airplane seating, with a little bit of preparation, you can increase your chances of sitting in seclusion.
Use SeatGuru to research the plane’s layout and find out which seats are the best in the cabin. Then, as God Saves the Points recommends, download an app called ExpertFlyer to set an alert for the seats you want. The app also allows passengers to see their flight’s seating arrangement with up-to-the-minute updates. So if an entire row opens up before boarding, they can swoop in and grab a seat — and hope no one else has the same idea.
Passengers looking for an entire row should remember that no seating assignment is final until everyone is buckled in. Before boarding begins, talk to gate agents to see if any seats have opened up or if other passengers are looking to switch spots.
Like most things in life, scoring an empty row on a plane all comes down to timing. Even with the best preparations, it’s impossible to score a solitary row if the plane is full. However, travel agent may be able to direct you towards less-crowded flights by looking at seating charts. Flying during off-peak times and seasons increases the likelihood of a sparse flight, therefore increasing the chances of getting a row all to yourself.
This story originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.