Southwest Airlines shares ‘hacks’ to bag an entire row of seats on a flight

A screengrab from Southwest Airlines ‘hacks’ video (
A screengrab from Southwest Airlines ‘hacks’ video (

Southwest Airlines has shared a video of “discouraged but crafty” tactics passengers use to bag an entire row of seats.

The budget carrier has released the comedy footage in response to a slew of TikTok videos advising travellers on how to secure a whole row of seats for their exclusive use.

Captioned, “Don’t think we don’t notice y’all out there trying”, the film shows a range of approaches for passengers who prefer space during their flight.

“The encouraging seat pat” shows an enthusiastic passenger aggressively making eye contact with his fellow fliers while patting the seat next to him and declaring, “This one’s open!”

Reverse psychology results in passengers avoiding his wild-eyed approach.


Don’t think we don’t notice y’all out there trying.

♬ original sound - Southwest Airlines

The “hat trick” shows the man holding a baseball cap over the far seat from him which, from a distance, gives the impression of somebody already sitting there.

And the “upfront decline” involves firmly telling a passenger who enquires whether they can take the vacant seat next to him, “Oh - no”, before immediately returning to his phone.

Requiring a degree of acting ability, the final hack is called “the fake breakup”.

We see the passenger on a fake phone call to his partner in which he emotionally announces: “You’re breaking up with me, before my flight?” He goes on to loudly declare that he’ll be “a mess for the next two hours and 43 minutes”.

The tongue-in-cheek clip has attracted more than 500,000 views on TikTok to date, with social media users sharing their own experiences of trying to monopolise space on a flight.

“The heavy panting holding the air sick bag is a favourite of mine,” wrote one, while another said: “My husband and I act like we’re in a fight. Works every time.”

“Not the content I expected from Southwest, but the content I needed from Southwest,” wrote a third.

The video comes after a viral video shared by TikToker NDA encouraged fliers to buy an entire row of fully refundable seats, before returning two of the three tickets 45 minutes before boarding in a bid to secure an entire row to themselves.

His “advice” divided users, however, with some feeling that the approach was unethical.

Others argued that airlines often overbook flights so the vacant seats would not remain that way for long.

Another travel influencer shared his tip of getting a row to himself by buying $12 Starbucks vouchers for all the flight attendants onboard, which resulted in him getting an upgrade to a seat in an empty row with extra leg-room.

“This is just a life lesson. Be kind to people, show appreciation, show respect,” he said. “It goes a long way.”