Buying an Extra Seat on Delta Air Lines: What You Need to Know About the Process

Are you thinking about purchasing an extra seat on Delta Air Lines because you are a plus-sized passenger or just because you want some extra comfort?

If so, then it will be helpful for you to know how the booking process works along with some other helpful information like how to make sure you don’t lose your extra seat!

Below, I’ve broken down everything you need to know about purchasing an additional seat for your flight and hopefully will answer most or all of your questions!

How to book an extra seat on Delta Air Lines

A Delta representative confirmed that in order to book an extra seat, you need to call customer service.

This is in contrast to some other airlines like United that allow you to book an extra seat online, even if the process is a little bit strange.

When you purchase an extra seat, Delta will create an additional booking that essentially acts like a second passenger is traveling with you.

However, on the name for the second passenger you might see your first name replaced with “EXST.” The gender and date of birth should be the same as your own.

Your extra seat should be linked to your main ticket which means that if you encountered irregular operations, such as a flight change caused by Delta, your extra seat should “follow” you to your new flight.

Sometimes this may not happen and you may have to work out the situation with Delta but that should be rare according to the rep I spoke with.

For some other airlines, the second boarding pass gets printed out and scanned during the boarding process so you might need to print out that second boarding pass when flying with Delta and scan it.

The reason is that if you don’t scan the second boarding pass it could trigger a “no-show” which could mean that an additional passenger is assigned to your flight and that could cause issues for your extra seat.

Delta’s system may not work that way but you may want to confirm that.

If you want to use your SkyMiles to purchase the extra seat, that should be allowed as long as there are open awards.

Just be aware that you cannot purchase a basic economy ticket as an extra seat. That’s because a seat assignment is required and those basic economy fares do not allow for advanced seat selection.

Delta airline seats

A seat just for comfort?

Unlike Southwest Airlines that does not allow you to purchase an extra seat solely for comfort, Delta is among the airlines that allows you to purchase an extra seat even if you don’t need it for size reasons.

It’s also possible for you to purchase more than one extra seat if you would like.

For example, if you were on crutches and wanted to keep your foot elevated during the flight, you could purchase two additional seats and occupy an entire row.

(Of course, during takeoff and landing you need to comply with safety requirements.)

Will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

If you are a customer of size, often a major question is will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

This always depends on the circumstances but Delta seems to be one of the more plus-size friendly airlines as I will explain below.

If you need a seatbelt extender…

If you need a seatbelt extender, you are NOT required to purchase an extra seat. One reason for this is that people are just built very differently.

Some people carry their extra weight in different parts of the body so just because you need a seatbelt extender, that does not mean that you will be intruding on the passenger next to you.

The armrest does not have to come down

One of the big reasons why Delta is friendly to plus-size passengers is the armrest policy.

They state:

Delta does not require a passenger who needs a seatbelt extender or is unable to lower the armrest to purchase an additional seat

So just because the armrest cannot go down, that does not mean that you have to purchase an extra seat.

Often, whether or not the armrest can come down (and remain down) while a plus-sized passenger is seated is sort of a test of whether or not the passenger will be able to fly without buying an extra seat.

If the armrest can’t come down, the passenger is required to purchase an extra seat. But that is not the case with Delta.

While this is good news for many, to ensure that you don’t need to purchase an extra seat you still have to make sure that you are not “impeding on” another passenger….

If you impede on another passenger

Delta states that if you impede on another passenger, that’s when things become problematic.

Now what exactly “impede” means is the million dollar question.

Typically, this means if you are body is occupying space in the next seat (with the armrest acting as the official divider).

But it gets a little bit tricky when you talk about elbows, shoulders, etc.

In the end, this likely is a case-by-case determination that could largely depend on the passenger next to you.

Some people are just much more tolerant than others when it comes to rubbing arms or bodies with others.

If the crew determines that you are impeding on another passenger then there are a few different scenarios that could play out.

You could be asked to move to another seat.

For example, maybe there is an empty seat somewhere else on the plane or even just a smaller passenger that you can sit next to.

(Sometimes the passenger next to you may volunteer to swap with someone else or move to a different seat.)

If the flight is full then you could be asked to take a later flight that will have available seating.

To ensure that you will have space, you may want to purchase an additional seat for that later flight but that will not be required because the next available flight may not be full.

But obviously if that flight did become full — perhaps with standby passengers — you could find yourself right back in the same situation so it’s usually a good idea to purchase the extra seat to avoid these situations.

If the next flight is more expensive, Delta reps told me that you would not be responsible for paying the fare difference.

I should point out that some airlines will also cover a hotel and meals if you are refused the ability to fly until the next day. I did not get confirmation that Delta does this but since other major airlines do, it’s worth asking about.

Delta Air Lines planes

Can you use preboarding?

Preboarding is available to a lot of different passengers and it is required under the law to provide it to people who need extra time or assistance to get settled in their seat.

If you are a customer of size, you could easily make an argument that you may need extra time to get into your seat so I think preboarding should be on the table. After all, it is something that you self identify for.

If you are interested in preboarding then simply speak with a gate agent and they should be able to get you situated for it.

How an extra seat affects your luggage

If you were hoping to get an extra carry-on when purchasing an extra seat, that is not going to happen.

Instead, your carry-on allowance is strictly tied to the passenger flying — not the seat. (I believe this is a safety issue and not strictly an airline issue.)

However, the good news is that you will be entitled to extra checked baggage based on the number of seats that you purchase. Read about Delta baggage fees here.

What seats can you select?

If you are a customer of size then you want to avoid the emergency exit row.

That’s because seatbelt extenders are not allowed in those seats and the arm rests cannot be pushed up which means you will be dealing with limited seat width.

If the aircraft has rows with only two seats, that would be the ideal seat selection. However, if you are traveling with a companion then a row with three seats also works just fine.

Delta Air Lines seat

Protecting your extra seat

One of the drawbacks of purchasing an extra seat is that sometimes you have to keep people away from trying to poach your seat.

Also, there are reports of flight attendants trying to put people into the extra seats in order to accommodate other passengers or even to accommodate standby passengers.

Because of this, it’s a good practice to notify a flight attendant that you have paid for an extra seat as soon as you get settled in.

That should let them know that the seat is off-limits to others and they should help you “guard” the seat.

If for some reason your extra seat is occupied by a passenger then be sure to follow up with Delta to request some type of compensation.

Can you earn extra miles?

It appears that you can earn extra award miles at least for one extra seat. However, if you were trying to earn MQDs, MQMs, MQS, and Medallion bonus miles that might be a different story. Speak with a Delta agent about those requests.

What happens when you try to upgrade?

If you are I’m a Medallion member trying to be waitlisted for a complimentary Medallion upgrade then you should probably contact Delta reservations customer service.

It’s worth being aware that Delta says that if the complimentary upgrade clears, there are no refunds for the extra seat if it was a nonrefundable fare.

Final word

If you want an extra seat because you need more space or because you want to be more comfortable, you need to call Delta in order to book.

If you suspect that you will be impeding on another passenger then you might need to purchase an extra seat so that you don’t get put on a different flight.

Extra Seats on Southwest Airlines: What You Need to Know (Booking & Refunds)

Are you thinking about buying an extra seat on Southwest Airlines?

Perhaps you are a customer of size who needs extra space or you have some other type of need that could require an additional seat.

In this article, we will show you exactly how you go about booking an extra seat and explain some key things you need to know about (like how to get a refund).

How to purchase an extra seat on Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines allows you to book an extra seat online. If you choose to do this online, there is a specific way to add the extra seat to your reservation.

Basically, you will go through the normal booking process but you will select the number of passengers based on however many extra seats you need.

So if you were traveling with one other person and you need one extra seat, you would choose three passengers.

Then comes the most important step: inputting your name.

For your actual ticket, you would input your name as you normally do. So if your name is John Smith then for your first name you put “John” and for your last time you put “Smith.” Simple stuff.

But for your extra ticket, you will need to make a slight alteration to your name and the alteration depends on whether or not you have input a middle name.

If you do NOT input a middle name for your main ticket, then for the extra passenger you will input XS for the middle name like this:

“John XS Smith” (first name: John, middle name: XS, and last name: Smith). 

If you DO input a middle name for your main ticket, then for the extra passenger you will input XS after the middle name like this:

“John Robert XS Smith” (first name: John, middle name: Robert XS, and last name: Smith). 

You can also call reservations and make your booking online. Try to add the extra seat at the same time as your booking so that you can end up paying the lowest price.

And finally, you can also book your extra seat whenever you arrive at the airport. You could do this at the check-in counter or at the gate.

The plus side of doing this is that you don’t have to pay anything. But the problem with doing this is that the flight could be full so there may not be extra seats.

But, here’s the deal….

Even if the flight is full Southwest has a reputation for doing what they can to keep the customer of size on board. For example, if the flight was oversold Southwest will try to get a volunteer to give up their seat so that the customer of size will have a seat.

If no volunteer comes forward then it’s possible that Southwest could involuntarily deny boarding to a passenger (probably the last person to check in).

This will probably be a very rare outcome but something to be aware of

How much will the extra seat cost on Southwest Airlines?

The cost of your extra seat or seats will be whatever the cost of that current ticket is for your specific route.

If you are purchasing the original seat at the time of booking, then you can expect to pay the same price as your actual ticket. You can also use Rapid Rewards for the extra ticket.

Also, if you purchase a Business Select fare, you can purchase an extra seat as a Wanna Get Away fare so you don’t have to pay for the expensive fair twice (you probably want to call in to do this).

The major thing to know with Southwest is that they will refund you for your extra seat purchase.

In an attempt to be extra customer friendly, Southwest Airlines has decided that people that need extra seats should not have to pay extra for those seats, so they offer this refund policy.

How do you get the refund for the extra seat?

To get a refund for your extra seat you can email or call Southwest.

You can find the email information here.

Or, if you would like to call here’s the phone number: 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792). 

airport with Southwest airplanes

Will you be required to get an extra seat?

So you might be wondering when would you be expected or required to get an extra seat when flying Southwest.

Southwest makes it pretty clear when you will need an extra seat when they state that, “If you’re unable to lower both armrests and/or encroach upon any portion of a seat next to you, you need a second seat.” 

For Southwest, the “armrest is the definitive gauge for a Customer of size.”

So the first test is can you sit in a seat with the armrests down?

Unlike other airlines, Southwest does not mention that you have to keep the armrest down the entire flight. So in theory, if you can at least put the armrest all the way down then you should be okay for this.

The other question is whether or not you are encroaching upon “any portion” of the seat next to you. So if any portion of your body is occupying space next to you, you are technically required to purchase another seat.

Usually, this would mean taking up space beyond the armrest.

But just keep in mind that airplane etiquette dictates that the middle seat passenger gets both armrests. So if a middle seat passenger cannot utilize the armrest because your body is taking up that space, that’s going to be an issue for some people.

What if I need a seatbelt extension?

If you need a seatbelt extension in order to properly use the seatbelt, that does not mean that you are required to get an extra seat.

So why would I purchase an extra seat if it’s free and I could do it at the gate?

The biggest reason for purchasing your extra seat in advance is to allow Southwest to get a sense of how many passengers (or seats) will be needed on the plane.

This will help them to avoid overselling the flight and having to ask people to give up their seat and move to another flight.

This can also prevent you from having to work the stuff out at the airport or deal with agents at the gate which can make your life easier. So it is strongly recommended that you purchase an extra seat in advance to make things easier for everybody.


You can do the normal check-in process online to secure your boarding position but when purchasing an extra seat Southwest states that “you must see a Customer Service Agent to receive the required documents and be eligible for a refund after the flight.”

In other words, you need to see an agent to get your boarding pass and your “seat reserved” document.

Presumably, an agent would also make sure that you appear to be a customer of size.

While this seems like it could get tricky, I’m assuming an agent could deny you the extra seat if you were a petite person looking to take advantage of an extra seat without a valid reason.


Some airlines will offer double the baggage if you purchase an extra seat but Southwest is not one of those airlines.


If you have an extra seat boarding document then you can take advantage of preboarding. This will allow you to board the plane before the standard Southwest boarding process.

Typically, preboarding is designed for people who need assistance or extra time to board (those with mobility problems) but in the case of an extra seat, it can make it easier for a customer of size to find a seat with an open seat next to it.

If you need a seatbelt extension then you can request that when you get on the plane (remember, you cannot use your own seatbelt extension) and preboarding can make that a little bit easier.

If you use preboarding, you will be able to select any seats available on the plane except for emergency row exit seats which are typically off-limits to people who use preboarding.

Emergency exit row seats may also be off-limits if you have mobility issues so keep that in mind.

Customers of size sometimes prefer to sit in the very back of the plane because they find it easier to deal with potential passengers trying to poach their seat. If you’re seated in the back near a flight attendant, that crewmember may be more likely to help keep people from taking your extra seat.

Window seats can also be a great option because you can utilize the extra room along the window and the fuselage.

After you check in, you should have a “Seat Reserved” document that you can place on your seat during boarding but these are small documents that look similar to a boarding pass so they don’t stand out.

Flight attendants also have larger “do not occupy” placards that are harder to miss. So feel free to request one of those from a flight attendant to make it easier for passengers to tell that your extra seat is reserved.

Can you purchase an extra seat simply for extra comfort?

Unlike some other airlines, Southwest does not allow you to purchase an additional seat just because you want extra space.

Instead, extra seats are reserved for oversize customers and people who have other special needs such as traveling with certain pets.

You can find a relevant language in the contract of carriage where it states:

Purchase of more than one seat for use by a single Passenger for the sole purpose of seeking additional personal
space is prohibited, except in limited circumstances when the Carrier, in its discretion, permits it.

This is kind of a let down because having an extra seat can be beneficial for a lot of people, even if they are not customers of size.

However, I understand how allowing passengers to purchase extra seats could make the Southwest boarding process more difficult to sort out.

Final word

Southwest is very friendly to customers of size.

First, they allow you to book online and to receive a refund for the extra seat or seats that you need. They will even bump people off flights if you failed to you book your extra seat in advance (which is why you always want to book it in advance). And finally, you can also get preboarding which will allow you to select from a wide variety of seats.

Buying an Extra Seat on United Airlines: What You Need to Know About the Process

Buying an extra seat on an airline can help make your flight much more comfortable for not only yourself but other adjacent passengers.

But how exactly can you purchase an extra seat on United Airlines and what are some things you should know when doing this?

Below, we will take an in-depth look at purchasing an extra seat on United. We will give you some tips and answer a lot of common questions about the process regarding booking, prices, baggage, etc.

How to purchase an extra seat on United Airlines

There are a few different ways that you can purchase an extra seat on United.

You can call to make your booking and book the extra seat at that time which is the recommended way. You should not be charged an online booking fee if you go this route.

The way that I used was to call a few days after I had already booked my tickets and selected my seats.

You can ask the agent if all of your tickets will be on the same PNR but it may not matter.

In my case, my extra seat was on a different PNR but the United agent assured me that if there were irregular operations, that extra seat would follow my main booking.

Some people also book an extra seat online by purchasing a ticket for a fictitious extra person. If your name was John Smith your first ticket would be booked with the name “John Smith” and then your second ticket would be booked as “EXTRASEAT Smith.”

You will then get an extra boarding pass for “EXTRASEAT Smith” and you will need to show that to the gate agent when boarding.

There are lots of success stories of the “EXTRASEAT” name option working and I confirmed with a United agent that it is possible but personally I would rather just call or chat with an agent to get it done.

That’s because at least I can put the blame on United if something goes wrong instead of potentially getting called out for doing some type of weird “fake name” booking. This is especially true for international flights where security is much stricter regarding IDs, names, etc.

If you make your booking through an agent, the agent should select the extra seat for you so make sure you know what seat to pick.

If you purchase an extra seat via an agent it will be issued in a new ticket with “EXTRASEAT” or “EXST” after your name (as seen below)

United extra seat reservation details

Purchasing an extra seat with award miles

It is possible to purchase an extra seat with United miles if there is award availability.

In addition, you can even purchase an extra seat with United miles if your original seat was booked with partner miles. For example, I recently booked two United seats with Aeroplan miles and then booked the extra seat with United miles.

Make sure that you do your own research for the award pricing because when I purchased an extra seat with miles the agent was trying to charge me 25,000 miles when I saw a seat available for 17,000 miles.

Eventually, they adjusted the pricing but only after I called attention to it so I’m not sure if there’s something weird about their systems. Just a heads up.

How much will the extra seat cost on United?

The extra seat is going to cost you the same as a normal ticket would cost you to your destination. If you purchase the extra seat at the time of booking, the cost could be the same as your main ticket.

However, if you wait longer or until the time of departure, the cost of that ticket could rise significantly.

Even worse, an extra seat may not be available which is why you don’t want to wait until later on to purchase your extra seat if you think it might be required.

If an extra seat is not available then United will not downgrade or boot other passengers. Instead, they will book you on the next available flight with an extra seat. The good news is that United is willing to waive the additional fees that would apply to the change.

Also, if you were forced to rebook to a flight on the next day United will also cover amenities, including meals and hotel accommodations for one night.

United economy seats

Will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

Some oversized passengers will be required to purchase an extra seat. Specifically, United provides three circumstances where you would have to purchase an extra seat.

If you don’t meet one of the requirements below, you will be required to purchase an extra seat.

Must be able to properly use seatbelt with only one extension

If you need to use a seatbelt extension, you must be able to properly attach, buckle, and wear the seat belt with only one extension.

The average length of a United seatbelt extension is approximately 25 inches. But because the design of your seat can vary between aircraft, the exact amount of “extension” that you get may not be 25 inches.

Remember, you cannot bring your own seatbelt extension — you have to ask for one.

Stay seated with the armrest down

United says “You must be able to stay seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the whole flight.”

This gets interesting whenever you are sitting next to someone who is okay with the armrest staying up. For example, you could be seated next to a family member who is willing to keep the armrest up to make you more comfortable.

United attempts to answer this question in their FAQ but does not do a very good job in my opinion.

From what I can gather, they make it sound like you will still have to demonstrate that the armrest can go down even if you are seated next to a family member who would be okay with the armrest remaining up. Presumably, this is for safety reasons.

That part I get but they make things unclear whenever they say that you “must remain seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the whole flight” but that “[t]his doesn’t mean that you can’t lift up the armrest.”

You could imagine someone who is in a snug fit but can get through the flight if they occasionally can relieve some pressure by lifting up the armrest for a short while. Based on what United says above, it seems unclear on whether or not this person would be required to purchase an extra seat.

Must not “significantly encroach” on other passengers

In order to avoid purchasing an extra seat, United states that “You must not significantly encroach upon the adjacent seating space.”

This is interesting language because some airlines just state that you cannot encroach upon an adjacent passenger. But in this case United says that you must not “significantly encroach” (emphasis added).

What exactly they determine is “significant” will be a subjective determination.

This could also depend on the passenger as some passengers are more tolerant with someone else’s body brushing up against them, while others won’t hesitate to complain to the crew.

Like some other airlines, United does a good job of providing you with information about their fleet. You could look up any aircraft and see how much width you will have to work with in your seat. It will generally be around 16 1/2 to 17 1/2 inches.

If you upgrade to a standard reclining domestic first class seat, a first class seat could get you around 20 to 21 inches of width.

Here’s a look at the width of different seats on United aircraft:

AircraftE+ PitchWidth
Airbus A31935″17.7″
Airbus A32035″17″
Boeing 737-700 V134″ – 38″17.1″
Boeing 737-800 V134″16.3″ – 17.3″
Boeing 737-900 V333″ – 38″17″
Boeing 757-200 V236″ – 40″17.8″
Boeing 757-30034″ – 38″17.3″
Boeing 767-300ER V134″ – 43″18.5″
Boeing 767-400ER35″18.5″
Boeing 777-200 V134″17.05″
Boeing 777-300ER34″17.05″
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner34″17.3″
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner V134″17.3″
Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner34″17.3″

Remember that the person in the middle seat is (unofficially) entitled to use both armrests. If you are taking away one of those armrests that’s a breach of airplane etiquette.

Can you purchase an extra seat simply for extra comfort?

Yes, if you just want a more comfortable flying experience in economy and don’t necessarily need an extra seat you can still purchase an extra seat.

In fact, this is one of the best ways to significantly improve your experience in economy, especially if you were dealing with something like a cough.

What happens if you don’t purchase an extra seat but you need one?

If you do not purchase an extra seat but cannot meet the requirements above, United stresses that, “We will not board you if you decline to buy a ticket for an additional seat or an upgrade for each leg of your itinerary when required.”

How exactly this process plays out will depend on the circumstances but it can often lead to very embarrassing situations. This is one reason why you may want to be proactive about purchasing a second seat.

Otherwise, you may have to go through the process of sitting down, having an adjacent passenger complain, getting into it with a flight attendant, and then being asked to move, etc.

How an extra seat affects your luggage

Your checked luggage is tied to the amount of seats that you purchase so if you purchase an extra seat, your luggage allowance is doubled.

However, your carry-on is tied to the individual passenger. So that means that you will not be able to bring on an additional carry-on item even if you have an extra seat.

Seats that you may want to avoid

Some aircraft may not have armrests that can be pulled up. These typically don’t have space underneath the armrest because that is where the tray table comes out.

You’ll often find these in the bulkhead row or perhaps emergency exit row so if you are pushing it on size, these seats could make it a lot harder on you.

A warning about your extra seat

Sometimes you may need to tell other poaching passengers to get out of your extra seat or block them from taking your extra seat.

For example, it’s possible that someone could sit in the wrong seat or would prefer to have your extra aisle seat over their middle seat. In these cases, you just need to let them know you have an extra seat and if needed call over a flight attendant.

Let them know that you paid $X amount of money for that seat so that they understand they are essentially stealing something you paid for.

There are some isolated reports of airline agents (not limited to United) trying to fill an extra seat with a standby passenger. If this happens to you, then you just need to reiterate to the flight attendant that you have a boarding pass with “EXTRASEAT.”

At that point, you have paid for the extra seat and done everything you were supposed to do to ensure comfort for you and other passengers so an airline should acknowledge that.

It’s also possible that during an overbooking situation your extra seat could be taken by the airlines. Personally, I don’t think people who buy extra seats should be targeted when an airline overbooks.

That’s because these people have taken steps to remedy any discomfort for themselves or for other passengers. So many people complain about plus sized passengers so if a plus sized passenger takes initiative to solve that problem, airlines should respect that.

I’m not aware of this being a problem with United Airlines but it’s something to be mindful of when flying on any airline.


Can I use my own seat belt extension?

No, you can request for a seatbelt extension from a flight attendant on board but you cannot use your own.

Will I have to pay extra change fees for my extra seat?

Yes, if you make a change to your flight and fees apply you will be expected to pay extra fees for the extra seat per the fare rules for the tickets purchased.

Does the law require United to provide me with an extra seat for free?

No, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) confirmed that airlines are not required to provide free additional seats or upgrades.

Do you earn award miles on United when purchasing an extra seat?

Yes, If you buy a second seat on United or United Express, you will earn award miles equal to the number of base miles for the flight. However, you don’t get Premier qualifying earnings or Premier benefits on the extra ticket.

Can you get extra food and beverages with an extra seat?

Yes, if you request it a United agent may provide you with additional food and beverages based on your extra seat.

Final word

Purchasing an extra seat on United is not so straightforward because there are multiple ways to do the booking and the requirements are not always so black and white.

I would always recommend passengers to be as proactive as possible if they think an extra seat will be a requirement and always be prepared to notify flight attendants that you have purchased an extra seat.