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Seat next to last row on plane with short connection

My flight is from Seattle to Florence, with a connection in CDG (1 ticket) on Dec 17th. Originally I had a 4 hour layover, but that Delta flight was canceled. When I called, the result ended up being an Air France flight the day before my original flight. Anyways, the layover is now 1.5 hours and my seat is almost the last row. Prior, we had an aisle and a window seat.

Right now, I can move at most 10 rows up on the plane. But I hesitate to do so. There are some rows that are considered "unavailable" which are the bulkhead ones, normally available for families if needed. And then this odd "unavailable" seat, the aisle one, in the row that my husband and I are sitting (3 seats per row). Part of me is thinking that the seat might just remain unoccupied and I would get the wonderful chance to have an empty seat next to me. I'm tall and need all the leg room I can get. But then, I wonder if I really need to move as close to the front of the plane as possible so as to not miss my connection. And then, I also wonder if those bulk head seats might get released at check-in, and maybe I can snag one.
More experienced travelers, advice?

Posted by
7344 posts

Pay to get whatever open seat is closer to the front; airlines often have off duty employees flying standby and they will get whatever is left over. Sometimes other delayed passengers (e.g. missed connections because short layover) get whatever seats are open.
That flight to and from two extremely popular cities is going to be full.

Posted by
8152 posts

I think SeatGuru is pretty much dead.

To be honest (I hate to say this because it is going to sound negative), I think it is going to be very difficult to make that connection no matter where you are sitting on that flight. That is just a really tight window for CDG, which is notoriously user-unfriendly.

(Perhaps my remarks are influenced by my experience arriving home to Paris this morning, I am literally in the taxi on my way home from CDG now.)

Posted by
12220 posts

Seatguru has not been updated for well over a year.

Did you ever think that the unavailable seats are actually taken? Especially the aisle seat? People do travel solo.

That being said, there are a lot of variables here.....if your flight into Paris is on time, if you are in the same terminal, how long the lines are at immigration, etc.

It will take longer to get off the plane if you are in the back of coach.

The good news, if you want to look at it that way, since it is on one ticket, and you miss the connection, the airline will put you on the next available flight.

Posted by
14446 posts

You are trying to rationalize not making the logical choice ........... sit as far forward as possible if you have a short connection. Also check the seats a few days prior to the flight because sometimes things change and there might be a better option.

ChuckyD is a miserable airport... if it were me, the more time the better.

Posted by
11044 posts

I actually had a good transit thru CDG in September but I agree with Kim I think your chance of making it is slim.

Here's why. In my last 3 Delta flights from SEA to CDG the plane landed at one of the tarmac stands at M gates so you have to be shuttle bused to the Immigration area. I was in Delta Comfort on the last trip. It took 15 minutes after we pulled in for them to get the exterior stairs rolled up and secured. I was the 2nd off the plane after Delta One deplaned so was in the first shuttle bus to go. Although I'd not transited thru there I had walked from 2E to 2F in the after security portion before while I was waiting for someone to arrive so I kind of knew where I was going. I walked steadily without stopping for a comfort stop. I had about a 15 minute wait at security, then there was literally no line at Immigration when I passed thru there. It took me 1h5m from the time I stepped off the plane onto the stairs to get to my gate for my AF flight to Milan in 2F.

I recommend you check to see when the next flight is from CDG to Florence after your current flight so you'll be prepared.

Are you doing just carry on? I do recommend you have your toiletries in a ziplock bag instead of any kind of fancy "TSA approved" pouch. The CDG security folks were all standing with ziplocks in their hands giving them to people who had their liquids in things other than ziplocks. That can slow down your transit thru the line there.

In re-reading your post I'm not entirely sure you are on the direct flight from SEA to CDG? Are you transiting thru a Delta hub in the US too?

Posted by
2651 posts

I would call Air France and politely beg. If the first person isn't helpful, hang up and keep calling until you get someone nice.

Posted by
4553 posts

We were in France this Fall. We flew Delta on an AirFrance codeshare. Our connecting thru CDG was 1.5 hours going and a little less returning. We were very surprised how well our connecting thru CDG went. There were many employees in vests helping travelers navigate the airport. TSA lines were short. The passport line seemed "long ish", but they were allowing people with short connections to move forward in the line. If they would get the passport scanning machines to work better, it would move even faster, maybe they have. Each time we have arrived at the gate in time to get a coffee, use the restroom and sit a bit.

I had heard that CDG was a nightmare this year. I would guess that it is more of an issue with flights beginning and ending in Paris. (and that is a guess!)

There, of course, is never a guarantee. I was concerned myself. I did check the flight schedules and there were quite a few more options should we miss the connecting, so I was quite comfortable with sticking to the itinerary. In the past, when I've had concerning connecting times, I have asked the gate agent for assistance and was moved up in the plane. Twice, moved from main cabin to comfort plus. I think in a plane when you are connecting, moving up 10 rows can help a lot.

When the seats on the Delta seat map are x'd out they are saving them to accommodate issues as they arrive, often for families. Twice now, I've called Delta (hold times are no longer extraordinarily long, at least my experience). I've said, "I've paid for a main cabin seat, and I don't find that my choices work for me". The issue has been that only middle seats are available and heck if I'll take a middle seat when I'm supposed to have choice. This has happened when I've flown alone or flown my daughter home, so we are only talking one person. Each time, they have opened up a blocked seat to accommodate us.

One last comment, in our experience, they have held the plane for a few minutes for passengers connecting. In Amsterdam when we arrived at our gate for our connecting, the plane was completely boarded. The gate agent said, "are you LAST NAME?" So they were obviously waiting for us.

Posted by
5138 posts

Hi Gail, I just finished checking my upcoming domestic flight to see if I can move closer to the front for a connection. Unless you’re trading an aisle seat for a middle seat, I would try moving up as much as possible to increase your chances of making the next flight.

I’ve had close gates at CDG but also ones where I needed each spare minute.

Posted by
595 posts

Thanks everyone.

I should probably clarify, the ticket is thru KLM and the operator was Delta for the transatlantic portion. At the time, KLM offered a more flexible ticket. Since the ticket purchase, there have been multiple flight changes and cancellations by Delta. Called a couple of times to get everything worked out. There weren't many options for flights at that point, so now I'm on an Air France flight (Seattle to Paris to Florence). Overall, I'm happy with the changes. I actually am arriving in Florence a day earlier than my original ticket.

There are two additional flights out of CDG that day and another one the next morning. I figured I would probably miss the connection and would arrive later that day or the next morning. Since I got an extra day out of this change, and I was able to add a day to my apartment with minimal expense, I wasn't too worried about it. But then, I read the posting about an individual missing their connection on Lufthansa, and not only was the airline unwilling to put then on a future flight, but actually canceled their return flights. That got me nervous.

Of the seats currently available, I think the ones I have are the best option, except for the fact that I have a short connection. So really the question is, does paying to move my seats closer to the front and into less than desirable seats at that, really make a difference?

Edit to add: Carry-on, backpacks, and plan to run. Also getting familiar with the layout of the airport to increase our chances.

Posted by
11044 posts

I read that heartbreaking post about the Lufthansa flight. I do not think you will have the same problem with a Sky Team Alliance partner (Delta/Air France/KLM). And good that you know there are more flights later in the day to Florence. A friend flew Spokane->Seattle->Paris->Nice in September and the flight from SEA was delayed by 3 hours due to a mechanical issue. She'd allowed a long transit time but still missed the flight to Nice. They got her on the flight later in the afternoon with no problem. Good also that you are going with carry-on only. That will allow you to be more flexible if needed.

Fingers crossed....let us know how it goes! What a fun time to visit. Also sending the weather service a note to tell them no more snow for you guys on the West Side until January, lol!

Posted by
8980 posts

I wouldn’t compare your risk with that other person. Piecing it together, it seems they did rebook her for the next morning but she paid for a ticket on another airline and traveled on the same day. The next day, when she checked the flight the airline had routed her on, her itinerary had been canceled. I assume this happened when she didn’t check in or when she told Lufthansa she wasn’t flying the leg.

Posted by
8152 posts

If they would get the passport scanning machines to work better, it would move even faster, maybe they have.

Not as of this morning, unfortunately.

In fact the same thing happened to me (and several other Americans) this morning that happened to me when I came back in June -- that is, the airport contract personnel directing people to the passport lines according to the country of of passport literally directed us to the WRONG line -- when we got closer to the gates, their colleague told us we were in the wrong line and had us move to a line that the first colleague had directed us away from.

The e-gates so far are seeming like way more of a pain than an improvement. For passengers at least !!

(And yes of course my experience was for a flight terminating in Paris, not trying to make a connection.)

I haven't caught up with the Lufthansa post the past few days but I couldn't figure out what had gone on -- but Bets's explanation seems logical. I was on a flight delayed out of Tulsa Tuesday evening, so missed my onward Paris -bound flight, the last of the day. By the time I arrived in Atlanta, Delta had already rebooked me. They also did that last December (i.e. by the time the problem existed, they had already fixed it.).

Posted by
5957 posts

I don’t believe that 10 rows will make that much of a difference. Have your backpack the moment you can get out of your seat, and move as fast as you can once off the plane.

Our trip this October included discovering the La Sorbettiera ( in Oltrarno neighborhood - the finest gelato in Florence, if not anywhere.

Posted by
109 posts

Here's what I would do..

  • I wouldn't pay to select a seat that was only 10 rows up. They've already changed your flight once, and may do it again, losing your new seat assignment. 10 rows might reduce the risk, but wouldn't eliminate it.
  • If there is no cost involved in selecting the seat 10 rows up...I would probably change it.
  • I would highlight the issue at check-in and request if they could do anything to help (ie. moving closer to the front), and if not I would ask if it was worth asking again at the gate. I wouldn't make a fuss, just polite enquiry.
  • If no help at check-in, I would highlight the issue again at the gate and see if there's anything they can do - no demands, just asking.
  • Depending on how the flight is going (ie. on time), I would consider mentioning the issue to a flight attendant during the flight, as I have seen that sometimes they will communicate gates etc or help travellers with tight connections get off quickly. Nice if they can, but I wouldn't bank on that.

If none of these result in anything helpful, I would make sure that I had knew where I needed to go at CDG, know what signs I need to look for, tell anyone that looked helpful that I had a tight connection and ask if they could assist (directing to shorter lines etc). If there's wi-fi on your flight, I'd check the status of the connecting flight, gates etc, so I know what I'm dealing with when I land.

And, if all else fails, I wouldn't stress too much, knowing that I'm booked on one ticket and that they will rebook me if I miss my connection. I'd make sure I know how to deal with that (check on the app to see if they've automatically rebooked you, or if not, find a transfer desk, and if that has massive lines then have the phone number or how to contact the airline while I wait in the line..

I think 2022 Christmas travel is going to chaos, so I would try to be as zen as possible from the get go.

Posted by
5677 posts

And, wherever you're sitting, I suggest you try to let a flight attendant know about your tight connection. Sometimes they ask passengers to stay seated for a minute or two at the gate to keep the aisle clear for people who have to rush off the plane. It can't hurt to request this as you get close to landing time. Good luck!

Posted by
595 posts

@Cyn - thanks for the gelato recommendation. We are staying in the Santo Spirito neighborhood, so close :)

@Kiwi - why do you think "Christmas travel is going to be chaos" ? I was hoping it would be more calm, especially the days prior to Christmas.

Posted by
109 posts

@Gail - I have no special insight, but in my experience Christmas is normally one of the busiest times of year for air travel.

Lines are long, the weather can have a negative impact, and travellers are extra stressed if travelling with family to meet specific, unmovable dates.

For Xmas 2022 specifically, I'm thinking that with airports and airlines not back to full capacity, staff absences due to sickness, and less flight options if things do go wrong could mean things get hectic.

Posted by
8152 posts

Not to mention, two unions representing Air France flight attendants have threatened to strike around Christmas -- they filed a motion that would allow them to strike (should they exercise their right) between December 22 and January 2. This is after your planned date of travel but is illustrative unfortunately of some of the additional things that can go wrong around holiday travel time.

Posted by
595 posts

We made the flight, but it was stressful. The flight was more then 30 minutes late, which gave us 50 minutes before the next flight. We rushed, which probably added to a few miss turns, and thought we had missed our next flight, but it was delayed by 10 minutes. We asked for directions along the way, went up and down stairs and made it to our gate after the gate was supposed to be closed. The agent knew our names and said we were the last ones and happy we made it. The plane was completely full and everyone was seated waiting for takeoff when we entered. The flight crew helped find space in the overhead bin for our bags and we took off shortly after being seated. Not something I'd like to repeat, but it was a great feeling to have made it. The staff at the airport were helpful and the crew of Air France kind. I don't think we would have made the flight if not for their help. As a side note, I have no sense of direction and get turned around easily.

Posted by
11044 posts

Gail! Thank you so much for letting us know what happened. Excellent to know you made it and that the Air France crew was helpful. You must have been so relieved once you were settled in your seat on the flight to Florence.

Posted by
2129 posts

Good to know you made it, Gail! That is not a good feeling when you are rushing around in an unfamiliar place with a deadline. I'm glad everything worked out! Happy New Year!