What Does Seat Request Mean? A Full Breakdown

Boarding flights can be stressful. Remembering to pack your ticket, boarding pass, important documents, passport, and more is what is going to give you a hard time. If you aren’t a regular flier, you know the struggles.

Let’s say you’re traveling somewhere and you see something unusual on your boarding pass. Does your boarding pass say “seat request”?

But, What Does a Seat Request Mean?

A seat request is a board request .If you get a “seat request” boarding pass it means  you did not request a seat when you purchased your ticket. Or it could be you purchased your ticket(s) so late that all available seats had already been assigned.

However, that was just a brief overview of the subject. There’s a lot more to know about it.

Without waiting more, let’s get started.

Mythbuster: Is Seat Request A Ticket?

A seat request is not a ticket. It’s a boarding pass or a board request. It means that you have a ticket on the flight and it’s confirmed. However, the seat is not assigned to you yet. So in that case you can’t hold anything against the airlines if they can’t provide you with a confirmed seat.

What Happens When You Get a Seat Request?

Let’s say you’re on your way to New Mexico and you see something unusual on your boarding pass. So, what happens next?

The tickets you purchase determine what seating choices you are entitled to. For instance a higher priced ticket allows you a choice to preselect seats. Or the ability to pay a little more for an exit row etc.

To choose a seat after booking your flight, input your last name and booking number in your airlines’ website. This will show you your  itinerary number

Scroll down till you find “Choose Seats” and click on that. Airlines charge more to allow you to select seats, so keep that in mind. 

The least expensive ticket does not allow preselected seating. It gives you a seat request which clearly states that groups may be separate. And also the fact that seating is allocated at the gate.

For those that choose the least expensive tickets they also have to accept any available seat. It usually is not the best seat on the plane obviously. And there’s a possibility that they will be separated from their children, parents.

The folks often blame the airline for not seating them together, however it’s a choice they consciously made when purchasing the ticket.

4 Reasons Why You Are Getting The Seat Requests! 

After understanding what it means seat assigned at the gate, you may have another question. Why don’t airlines stop selling tickets once the plane is full?

Coming to why this happens to airlines in the first place, it’s not always a case of oversold tickets. Airlines leave a specific number of seats unassigned right up until the gate due to:

Reason 1 of 4: Weight and Balance

This has a proportional effect on the performance of the airplane. When the airplane is too heavy, it might not take off the ground.

When it takes flight, it may be unmanageable if it is out of balance. Clearly, neither of these circumstances will result in the desired result.

Maintaining a healthy weight and balance is a delicate balancing act. The computation of weight and balance is an important aspect of flight planning.

Reason 2 of 4: Saving Seats for Elites and Special Needs

To meet specific requests, airlines hold seats until one hour before departure. It is for passengers who have a fused/immobile leg or who are being escorted by the authorities.

95 percent of the seats have been allotted, with the remaining 5% reserved for elites who have missed connections on previous flights, special needs passengers, or celebrities.

Reason 3 of 4 :Competing with Low Cost Carriers Passengers

Southwest and Delta, both offer a survival, named basic economy. For a lower price you get a seat on the plane but it’s not assigned until departure time. It comes with extra restrictions like no standby.

Those blocked seats come in handy at the last moment when you have family scattered all over the plane and need to seat them together. Or the airline has unaccompanied minors for whom it’s best to sit at the rear of the airplane so they don’t take off by themselves.

The flight attendants can keep a better eye on them since it’s close to where they sit in the back.

Reason 4 of 4: Oversold

If overselling is the case, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting a bump.They will first appeal for volunteers, and then they will work backwards from the moment of check-in.

Suppose you are denied boarding. And the new flight they find for you could not get you into the new flight within 4 hours. You can claim up to $400 (cash or cheque on the spot) depending on the value of your ticket and the next available trip.

You can also get yourself some free roundtrip flight credit. If luck favors you. Asking “what does seat request mean” may get you a cool upgrade!

In case this happens to you a lot, try buying your ticket(s) earlier. Tickets can be bought over the phone or online. If you have an agent booking your ticket, ask them to give you a confirmed seat. 

Limitations with Emergency Exit Rows

Airlines expect passengers to report at the check-in desk prior to the flight closure, which is 90 minutes before takeoff. Their policy allows them to release the reserved seats after this time and give them to other passengers who showed up timely.

For passengers traveling with bassinets or ones with medical issues, special seats are allocated.

You may be asking why they simply cannot assign the emergency exit row seats in advance instead of making you wait. What does seat request mean in that case and what’s the point? 

In reality, airlines cannot assign these seats because they are under the control of Airport Control. They assign these seats to able-bodied passengers above the age of 18. These people seem like they can operate or assist with the evacuation operation.

The following type of passengers are not given Emergency Exit row seats:

  • Expectant mothers
  • Infants and children (accompanied or not)
  • The elderly and weak
  • Incapacitated passengers
  • Obese passengers
  • Prisoners in custody or deportees

That is all!


What Does Seat Request Mean in Comparison to Standby?

If your boarding pass shows “Standby,” you do not have a confirmed ticket on the flight. However, you have been kept as a filler for no-shows to decrease the margin to zero. 

On the other hand, “seat request” flights promise you a confirmed ticket on a flight without a confirmed seat.

What Seats May I Get During Board-In?

The pickings for seats during a board-in from “Seat Request” might be slim. You could get the dreaded middle seat, or you can get lucky and have a window or aisle seat. Better yet, you could get an empty front seat or the exit row one.

Which Flight Seats Are the Best?

Seats near the front, window or aisle seats, or exit row seats are generally considered the flight’s best seats. You may want to get an aisle seat close to the front on a brief business trip so you can get off as quickly as possible when the plane arrives.


Now that you know what seat requests mean, booking flights and boarding them should be a bit easier.

 As mentioned earlier, it’s best to book your tickets well in advance. If you get a standby or seat request quota, make sure to show up to the airport well before the flight time.

Have a safe flight. If you have any other queries, please let us know.

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