Biggest tech fails of 2021 COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers blocked COVID variants: omicron vs. delta YouTube's 10 most-viewed videos uploaded in 2021 Spotify Wrapped 2021 arrives PS5 restock tracker

How to get on a sold-out flight

Maybe your plan changed, or maybe you want to optimize your time off. When that one perfect flight is sold out, it doesn't have to be the end of the story. ExpertFlyer is a great freemium service that will notify you when a seat frees up on any flight.

If you've got a little flexibility in your travel schedule, you can try to hit the optimal flight even if it's booked. Cancellations happen more frequently than you may realize, but it's crazy-making to keep checking back with the airline's Web site. ExpertFlyer lets you select a flight, then sends notifications if a seat opens up. Here's how to use it: 

  1. Head over to the ExpertFlyer Web site and sign up. The free version lets you keep one seat alert active at a time.
    Step 1: Set up ExpertFlyer account.
    Step 1: Set up ExpertFlyer account. Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  2. Once you've validated your account, click "Create New Seat Alert" near the top left. 
  3. This is where it starts to get cool. You should see a detailed seat map. Mouse over individual seats for reviews and notes (!) if you like, then select your seat options. For many users who just want to get on the dang plane, "Any Seat" should work, but if you've got unique needs or preferences, you can get more specific. 
    Step 3: Review seat map.
    Step 3: Review seat map.
  4. Give your alert a name. This is more convenient for premium users, but can still be handy for the rest of us. 
  5. Click "Create Alert." You will be notified by e-mail as soon as a seat opens up. 
    Step 5: Create ExpertFlyer alert.
    Step 5: Create ExpertFlyer alert.

It's pretty simple! If you're using a mobile device, try the mobile site here.