I pride myself on giving valuable travel advice. I used to be afraid not only to fly but to leave the house so I know what it’s like dealing with fear. When I conquered both of those worries and craved seeing the world, I then had to try to earn enough money to fund my travels. I got a job and spent most of my money on airfare. RELATED: How to Make Coach Feel Like First Class

In my second year of college in California (I grew up in Connecticut), I started dating my classmate Sally, whose parents lived in Asia and Australia. Sally’s dad was a big time frequent flier so he used his miles to buy her business class tickets on the long-haul flights. When she invited me to Hong Kong one summer, I had a whole new set of problems because let’s face it: I wasn’t going to sit in the back of the plane while she was up front sipping champagne in a plush seat. I did some research and found the cheapest business class ticket possible and talked my dad into buying it for me.

Well, if you’ve ever flown in a lie-flat seat, then you know that once you fly up front, it’s hard to go back to coach. That’s when I really started honing my skills and learned all kinds of travel tips and tricks to not only fly around the world, but to do it in style. At the time, I was working in my college’s admissions office with a bunch of friends. Email was brand new so I created a free newsletter and started sharing my tips with them and anyone else who wanted to listen. That was 1995 and I have been sending the newsletter every single week since then.

Fast forward to now: A lot has changed since Covid hit but the travel industry is bouncing back to pre-pandemic days. Planes are full again … in fact, they’re even more full because here in the U.S., we’re back to 2019 airport security checkpoint numbers but the airlines have cut capacity by roughly 10%. The reason is staffing issues and the manufacturers can’t build planes fast enough.

This means that prices have gone up due to the simple laws of supply and demand. Since a lot has changed, I’m constantly reading articles to learn more tips and tricks and my wife sent me a story by Insider titled: “TikTok Hack to Buy Full Row of Empty Plane Seats.”

@ndainternet How to get a “Poor man’s First Class” 👑✈️💰 If you’re flying and can’t afford the first class or business class, you can Save Money when booking airline tickets! 🎫 #airline #ticket #personalfinance #savemoney #firstclass ♬ original sound – NDA

I’ve seen a lot of bad travel advice in my three decades in the travel industry and this is among the worst, right up there with the time Travel & Leisure shared an article about what to wear to get an upgrade. This TikTok creator with the handle @ndainternet advises his followers “to buy an entire row of fully-refundable tickets — and then refund two out of the three tickets 45 minutes before boarding.” According to his logic, airlines won’t have enough time to resell those tickets, and the customer will have a luxurious empty row to themselves.

This is terrible advice for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s bad karma, like the lowlifes who pretend they need a wheelchair so they can skip long security lines and board the plane first.

Secondly, as I mentioned, on most flights these days, there aren’t enough seats for everyone. Airlines are notorious for overselling seats because they know a small percentage of their customers will either cancel at the last minute or miss a connection if their first flight is delayed or canceled.

Then there’s the small fact that there’s almost always a long list of standbys, who are passengers trying to get on an earlier or later flight, or airline employees or their family members flying standby. This is why you have to show up well before departure time as the agents make sure all the seats are full and if any are empty, they start clearing the standby list about 30 minutes before departure.

Finally, why this is a terrible idea is because if the whole plane is full and there’s just one row with two empty seats, you know someone is going to sit their butt in the aisle or window. And trying to sit in the middle probably won’t work. And with today’s technology, if you do this trick more than once, the airline will catch on and may take away your miles, ban you from flying with them or make you pay for those seats.

I have actually bought an extra seat before to give me and my family some extra space. The row had three seats and I bought one for myself, plus an extra seat. Fortunately, the plane was weight restricted because they had a lot of cargo, so they couldn’t fill every seat. So I ended up with an entire row to myself. Here’s more about buying an extra seat but NOT refunding it at the last minute.

If you want real travel advice, sign up to my free travel newsletter to learn all kinds of tips and trick like how to make coach feel like first class or how you can really get upgraded to first class.


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