As an example, Alaska Airlines in the US won't allocate you a seat till the last second if you fly in the cheapest class, however they (generally) will always try to seat people together if they're traveling on the same reservation.

I have a ticket with Ryanair from Pisa to Prague for two adults. If I don't pay for a seat, is Ryanair likely to seat us apart? I've never flown with them before with another person so don't have personal experience.

  • My experience with low-budget airlines, not including Ryanair, is that they won't do it on purpose but they will distribute those who don't book specific seats as to their liking. I've had flights with my wife through Jet2 (IIRC) where we weren't sat together, and in Australia plenty of flights where they've sat my family apart (while ensuring that an adult is sat with kids, but only when we've told them).
    – user25730
    Commented Apr 15 at 22:29
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    Note that the middles are the least desirable seats and thus typically the last to go. If you're getting the last seats you should expect them to be mostly middles. And only a 3-4-3 or 2-5-2 configuration permits adjacent middles. The only 3-4-3 bird I've known is the 747 which is basically gone by now, I'm not aware of what operates a 2-5-2. I've never heard of a 2-4-2 or a 2-3-2 but I wouldn't swear no bird uses them. Commented Apr 16 at 4:18
  • @LorenPechtel yes, if people pay for aisle/window seats I obviously wouldn't expect to sit together. But normally I do expect the airlines algorithm to try and give me adjacent seats if possible.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 16 at 4:44
  • @LorenPechtel: Ryanair only flies 737s which are invariably 3-3. (But for reference, the A380 typically uses 3-4-3 in Economy; the A330 and A340 are 2-4-2, and the 767 is 2-3-2.) Commented Apr 16 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


We recommend that you reserve your seat when booking or when checking in to guarantee a seat beside your travel companions. If you choose not to reserve a seat, then a seat will be randomly allocated to you free of charge when checking in, but it is unlikely it will be beside your travel companions.

(from Ryanair Seat Policy)

Ryanair has also had to deny that they deliberately separate such seats, so your chances are at most as good as random.

In general, Ryanair is a low-cost airline whose business model heavily relies on cheap base prices and a large amount of additional paid conveniences, of which seat selection is one, so I wouldn't expect to get it for free - certainly not as a matter of course.

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    RyanAir is the only low-cost airline in Europe I know of that separates customers like this. EasyJet, which has similar prices and routes, does not. Commented Apr 14 at 10:02
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    If there are 50 free seats and they randomly assign seats to you and to your travelling companion, simple math says it's highly unlikely you'll be sitting together, even leaving out the probable middle seat excess. Consider also that most airlines have seats in groups of three, but usually people travel in twos, leaving one empty.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Apr 14 at 18:08
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    @Therac It still surprises me that Ryanair isn't (yet) charging people for the privilege of breathing while in their planes.
    – Tonny
    Commented Apr 15 at 9:45
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    Ryanair didn't "deny that they deliberately separate such seats [to make money]" (like this answer and the linked headline claims), they merely said that seats are randomly allocated and there are less seats available for random allocation. But pure random allocation would practically guarantee that you wouldn't sit next to your travel companions. Ryanair may very well have specifically chosen to use pure random allocation because that would separate people, so they'd rather pay for seats, so Ryanair would make more money. There's nothing about what they said which refutes that.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Apr 15 at 13:42
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    @NotThatGuy I understood "deliberately separate" as "ensure you don't randomly get assigned a seat anywhere near the person you're traveling with". They do admit it's random, but are denying that it's even worse than that. Commented Apr 15 at 13:58

Unlike other airlines, when flying with RyanAir assume you'll be sitting apart from the person you fly with unless you pay for seats. RyanAir deny they deliberately separate people but they are clearly lying about this.

Since there's been a lot of discussion about the side point of whether RyanAir's policy of separating people on their flights can count as "deliberate". There is a technical sense in which you could argue you that it is not - what they seem to be doing is simply allocating each customer a seat at random rather than what (almost?) every other airline does and trying to place customers who booked together next to each other when possible whilst doing this allocation. However, in my opinion, the choice of how to assign seats is clearly a deliberate act and thus RyanAir's decision to go against that counts as them deliberately separating people.

Back in 2018, a CAA survey found that RyanAir were already separating passengers over twice as often (35% of passengers) as was normal for other airlines. However, although I can't prove it, I am quite certain that they changed their method of seating after this time to make it much worse. Certainly it was after this time that everyone I know who flew RyanAir found themselves being separated, and when I experienced the same.

Personally, for us, this was the point that we decided RyanAir had gone too far and decided to never fly with them again. It's one thing to charge for actual extras that better airlines include for free. It is quite another to deliberately make the experience worse unless you pay them.

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    Flying with easyJet, when I still did that, never used Ryanair, I noticed that most seats reserved were aisle and window seats, leaving only single seats left for those not selecting a seat early on. So maybe Ryanair does not have to do it on purpose, the people paying for their seats arrange it for them.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 14 at 9:24
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    @Willeke I've never been separated flying with EasyJet, everyone I know has always been separated when flying with RyanAir. Besides with RyanAir the people sitting next to me and my wife had also been separated. Commented Apr 14 at 9:25
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    "RyanAir deny they deliberately separate people but they are clearly lying about this." Er, how is this "clear"? Are you saying it's been statistically proven that co-travelers end up together less frequently than would occur in random seating arrangements? Any links to back it up?
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 15 at 2:46
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    @user541686: It is deliberate separation, because they deliberately choose to use an algorithm that separates people; unlike other airlines and unlike they used to do themselves. Commented Apr 15 at 7:38
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    While a personal experience, it does answer the question. Expect to be separated unless you pay for the seat.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 15 at 10:07

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