As the economy improves, airlines keep merging and cutting capacity. That means planes are becoming fuller than ever. This year airline departures are down three percent, yet the load factor - how many seats airlines fill - is up to 83.6 percent. That means it’s harder and harder to get a good seat, or even just a window or aisle, these days.

However, there are more ways than ever to ensure you don’t get stuck in the worst middle seat in the back of the plane. Here are some of my tried and trusted methods of securing the best seats - even for free.