How to Check How Full a Flight Is: Try these 5 Ways for Better Check

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Want to know how to check how full a flight is? Good call. It is always better to get a heads-up. Especially if you have motion sickness or claustrophobia. Even if simply traveling for long hours, with the kids, or trying to get a seat last minute.

Worry not! We will guide you on how to access the seat map, check for empty seats, and the booking process. Most importantly, how to get the closest to the actual figure of seat assignments. Come on board to learn!

Methods to Check Availability of Seats on Flights

We have described below some of the ways you can know which specific seat is taken. As well as, which ones are available for reservation or are not assigned up till then.

  • Keep in mind that airlines continue to assign seats throughout the check-in process.
  • During boarding gate agent may reassign seats to accommodate families or people with special needs.

So the method you will learn will provide you with a close estimate only. Most people’s go-to method is to call the airline or check the seating map on its app. Let’s see how is possible and some alternative ways.

How to Check How Full a Flight is. Methods to Check Availability of Seats on Flights

1. Check the Airline’s App For Seat Map

Most airlines display the available seats on their websites or apps before your travel day. You can see the layout of the plane and whether each seat is booked or not. Read below how major airlines work.

Delta Airlines

You can use the app (App Store/Playstore) or website to view how full the seat maps are under the “My Trips” tab. The booked seats will say “occupied.” During Covid seats reserved for social distancing were marked as “blocked for safety.”

JetBlue, Hawaiian, and Alaska

These airlines allow passengers to view the most up-to-date version of the seat map. Just log in with your last name and confirmation code on their app.

Note: You can view the map without confirming a seat change but you will have to follow instructions to change your seat.

Airline Company Will Inform You Themselves

American (App Store/Play Store) and United Airlines (App Store/Playstore) do not have a limit on the number of passengers allowed on their flights. However, they reach out to customers who have booked flights that are nearing full capacity. They offer them the opportunity to switch to another flight free of charge.

Airline Company Will Inform You Themselves

Note: If you are unable to contact the airline before your flight, you can find out more about the capacity of your flight during check-in.

2. Ask the Gate Agent During Check-In

You can ask an airline employee at the check-in desk or at the gate for open seats. There are some important things to know:

  • It’s essential to clarify that you specifically want to know if there are any unoccupied seats available to avoid the crowd.
  • Remember to ask politely. Often, agents might declare that there are no more seats. In reality, the flight might be around only 95% full.
  • This is done to encourage passengers to gate-check their carry-on bags, which can help streamline the boarding process.
Ask the Gate Agent During Check-In

3. Call the Airline’s Helpline or Use the Chat function

If you want to know how full your flight is, the simplest way is to call the airline and ask. They might help with upgrade and standby lists. Follow the steps to do so:

  • Start by telling the agent that you’re worried about being on a crowded flight
  • Request an estimate of how many people are currently booked on the flight.
  • Keep in mind that the agent may not be able to provide you with an exact number, but they should be able to offer guidance on your options. If you encounter an unhelpful agent, it’s recommended to hang up and try again.
Call The Airline's Helpline Or Use The Chat Function

Note: It is possible the capacity of open seats may change at even the last minute before your flight. An example of this happening could be when another flight is canceled or delayed. So the passengers will be accommodated on your flight, increasing its capacity.

4. Try Making a Dummy Large Booking

If you’re curious whether five seats will be available, try the booking procedure:

  • Select five passengers for the trip.
  • Input the necessary information for those passengers
  • Important! Stop short of the final checkout.

This should give you a quick idea. It’s important to keep in mind that some flights might be oversold. Meaning that more tickets have been sold than open seats.

Try Making a Dummy Large Booking

5. Look at the Fare Bucket Codes

Checking the fare buckets can be a useful method to estimate how full a flight might be. It is a code used by airlines to categorize tickets. They are based on factors such as price, restrictions, and upgrades aka “Class”. Here is an example:

  • A letter such as ‘J’ could represent the business class.
  • ‘Y’ might be used for an expensive economy.
  • ‘G’ could mean a cheaper economy.

The numbers in a fare code represent the number of seats available for that particular fare class. “J3” means that there are three business class seats available in that fare bucket.

Look at the Fare Bucket Codes

Remember: Do not confuse yourself with various economy fare classes. If it says G5 and Y3, that means there are 5 seats in the affordable economy and 3 seats in an advanced economy.

How You Can Get the Closest Empty Seat Estimate

In order to get the closest estimate, you can try using multiple methods simultaneously. Travelers often trust the website ExpertFlyer:

  • It is a paid tool that lets you view the seat map.
  • It also has Seat Alerts function that is usable for a free seat in the cabin.
  • Although there is a subscription this is essential if you are a frequent traveler.
  • It comes in handy if you wish to purchase seats with upgraded facilities or an earlier flight.

You can watch this video guide for a better understanding of the same information.

Carefully Use the Seat Maps

Using the seat map is a useful way to estimate how crowded your flight is. However, remember to be careful and not fully rely on it. A misleading seat map, until check-in opens, could happen because:

  • Few airlines charge for seat assignments.
  • A passenger doesn’t select a seat during the booking

As the departure times come close, passengers start to check in and the cabin fills up the seat maps become more accurate. It then becomes a good indicator of how full your flight is.

Carefully Use the Seat Maps

Note: Checking the seat map during booking is useful only for choosing a preferred seat type.


How can you tell if a flight is full?

You can tell if a flight is full by connecting with the airline’s customer service on call or chat. Share that you are concerned about a packed plane. In most cases, they will help you out. Alternatively, you can try the airline’s app and check seat availability.

How do you check flight details?

To check flight details go to the website of the airline then visit the “flight status” tab or edit/manage booking. Log-in information such as travel date, flight number, booking reference, and email. Finally hit the “Get Itinerary” button to view the details.

How do I check flight availability before booking?

To check flight availability before booking visit the airlines’ website. Go to the booking page and follow the process to make a dummy booking. The majority of the airlines let you see the seating map while booking. You can check which seats are booked and which are left.

How do I find out how many seats are available on a flight?

To find out how many seats are available on a flight, you should contact the customer service of the airline via call or chat. You can also check the seat map via the airline’s app by going through a dummy booking process.

What happens if a flight is too full?

If a flight is too full the airlines ask for volunteers to get off the plane. In return, they pay compensation, vouchers, and transfer to the next flight.


In order to check if the flight is fully booked contact the airline’s helpline, check its app for a seat map, or ask the gate agent during check-in. Other unofficial methods can be making a large booking, and or looking at the fare buckets.

So where are you traveling next? Are you now able to locate your desired seat? Let us know in the comments section below.

Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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