One of the most important things you can do after you buy an airline ticket is “gardening” your reservations, especially when you book travel far in advance.

I take the term gardening from Nicholas Kralev, who is a gardener.

There are some things that happen to reservations.

  • Schedule changes: This may cause you to have connecting flights that no longer have enough time to connect, or upgrade requests tend to drop out of bookings.
  • Tickets out of sync: A schedule change, especially involving partner airlines on an award ticket, may require a ticket to be reissued so that it matches your reservation.
  • Aircraft swaps: changes might cause you to downgrade cabins, or to lose seat assignments.
  • Disappearing seats: Seats sometimes disappear for no apparent reason, or perhaps because you’re assigned a bassinet seat and not traveling with an infant or you’re in a premium seat that your status or fare may not entitle you to.

It is better to get it done before you get to the airport. Seat assignments should be handled early when more seats are not assigned in the cabin.

It is worth checking a booking right after you make it to make sure everything is correct. Is it possible to assign seats. Is the booking ready for travel if a partner airline sees it? You should scroll through your reservations at least once a month. It's a good idea to do it again a few days before travel.

  1. Checking your reservation right away will make sure that it’s been made for the correct date and for the correct flights. It’s also the time to make sure that you don’t just have a confirmed reservation, but also ticket numbers (you tickets were issued) and that any partner airlines you may be traveling on can see those ticket numbers (they can tell your booking is travel-ready and won’t likely cancel your reservation).
  2. Checking your reservation between the time of booking and time of travel will identify any problems early, when there’s a good chance that other options could be available — whether alternate flights or seats.
  3. And finally checking your reservations prior to the date of travel will suss out problems with a booking while there’s still time to get it fixed and you aren’t running up against the clock of a pending departure.

Award wallet grabs your itineraries as well as your frequent flyer account balances, and then continually compares those itineraries to find changes, which is one of the reasons I like it. When an itinerary has changed, they will email you. It serves as an early warning system for those times when you don't tend to your reservations.

If you worry about losing your seat assignment, you can set a free expert flyer seat alert. If someone has moved so they can take it, Award Wallet should catch it.

Since most non-Basic Economy fares no longer have change fees, you should be able to get a credit for the difference if the price goes down after you purchase your ticket. You have to ask if it's there.

If available at check-in, elite members of American AAdvantage will have access to even more seats. It is only available at the airport when booking code shares, and not at check-in.

In airlines.


Having an empty seat next to you is the most important factor in determining a flight's quality. It seems like the food or snack is better. The flight attendants are friendly. Overall, it's less stressed. If you feel more comfortable buying additional space, it's...

There are travel tips.


It's important to do gardening on your bookings, especially ones that you make a long way in advance. Minor maintenance and checking up on the bookings are what I mean by gardening. There are things that can go wrong.

In general.