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Flight check-in & booking your seats

A long haul flight is likely to be the start point of your holiday and whilst for many taking a flight is a relatively regular occurrence these days, we recommend you take a few minutes to prepare for your departure.

The key message ahead of your flight is of course 'Give yourself time. Plenty of it'. Whilst few of us wish to spend any more time than necessary in waiting rooms - be it at the doctors or an airport - airlines give strict guidelines on check-in times for good reason. Many close their check-in counters up to an hour ahead of departure and boarding gates always close well ahead of the advertised departure time. Traffic to and from the airport is always an unknown quantity, as is the state of check-in when you arrive, therefore allowing yourself an extra 30-60 minutes just to be safe is time well spent in the long run. Take a look at our airport lounge passes as a simple solution to making a smooth arrival and check-in an all the more enjoyable experience.

You will find all essential information regarding Covid-19 entry and exit requirements on your Selective Asia itinerary. You must also always check the most up-to-date information, a week before your departure, on the Foreign Office Travel Advice website.

Reconfirming your flight

The requirement to re-confirm your long haul flights remains something of a grey area, and whilst nowadays most airlines will state directly to you, the passenger, that it is no longer necessary to do so, as a tour operator we have never received clear guidance on best practice and therefore still have to advise that you do. Clear!?

We do recommend that you check your flight status within 24 hours of your departure to ensure there have been no schedule changes. You can do this on many airline websites, on your departure airports’ website or at

Frequent flyer programmes

Airlines offer frequent flyer or membership programmes which may be joined either free of charge or for a fee. Even if you not a regular traveller you may wish to join your airline’s programme if it is free of charge, since this often allows for better seat request options.

Regular travellers will additionally benefit from accruing mileage points which may be redeemed against future flight purchases and upgrades. However it is advisable not to become 'too loyal' to one airline, when a competitor may be offering a much lower fares or a better route to your destination.

Pre-booking seats and online check-in

Pre-booking seats and checking-in online are not the same things, and every airline has differing rules and procedures regarding each.

Pre-booking your seats

Pre-booking your seats, either online or by telephone, is a matter of contacting your airline and requesting specific seats on your aircraft. This procedure helps to ensure that your party is sat together in the most comfortable configuration, and also allows you to request preferences such as window or aisle seats.Passengers travelling with small children and infants should always contact their airline to ensure that appropriate seats are arranged.  In most cases airlines do not allocate extra leg room seats (emergency exit seats) until check-in.

Online check-in

Checking in online also allows you to pre-book seats, but additionally allows you to store and print or store your boarding passes, thus removing the need to queue at check-in desks at the airport. This facility was originally developed for the business travellers on European or trans-Atlantic flights, and one might say it offers only a limited advantage for leisure travellers.The references required to check-in online are provided with your final travel documentation, usually posted to you 3 weeks prior to your departure. 

Please note that most airlines have their own unique set of rules and guidelines when it comes to online-check in and pre-booking seats. There is certainly no one-size fits all solution that we can set out below.

In most instances, you can check-in online ahead of your departure, whether this is possible 24 hours or a week before your flight depends on which airlines you are flying with. Likewise, many airlines allow you to pre-book seats, some FOC and some will charge a fee. Almost none will allow you to pre-book emergency exit seats* and any that do will charge you to do so, classing them as preferential seating.

Your Destination Specialist will be happy to advise you on the best practise for your chosen carrier at the time of booking. You will also be able to find additional information by visiting their website. *Emergency exit seats. We all want them, however in most cases they will only be allocated at the time of check-in, exceptions being airlines that award them to their frequent flyers and those that offer them at an additional cost. If they do pre-sell them, the transaction can only be carried out directly with the airline, either online or by phone. In most instances you will need to join the airlines’ frequent flyer programme to do so, however whilst this may all sound like hard work, the benefits can certainly outweigh the relatively small amount of hassle at this stage. Whilst business class it is not, there's nothing quite like stretching out at 28,000ft!