This trick is so obvious I can't believe I only just discovered it. Simply walk up to the gate agent and in a polite but firm voice yell Shotgun! Then kindly remind the agent that per the rules of calling shotgun you are now entitled to a seat up front. You must be the first passenger on the flight to do this. If you need to cite a reference you can use the below link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riding_shotgun Works about 57% of the time, I reckon.