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  • Liann Walborsky
    Liann Walborsky
    » Communications Manager, Technology Credit Union
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    legroom when you fly: huh?

    July 16, 2013 Posted by: Liann Walborsky

    Remember the last time you sat in an airplane seat and could actually stretch your legs? Probably not – it’s been years since legroom was a priority for an industry that continually works to pack more people in — rather than worry about whose legs are comfortable. Coach seats have lost about an inch of legroom (tallying these days at around 31 inches, versus 32 a few years ago). However, there are ways to get a “better seat” than you might have originally been assigned.

    When you book a flight online and are given the opportunity to choose a seat, use a web site like seatguru.com to see what “amenities” each seat offers (next to a bathroom, no thanks; full window, sounds good). Some of the larger, cross-country flights may use bigger planes and offer certain rows that have the ability to recline with more room in front.

    The airline you choose to take can also make a difference in how comfortable you are. For example, Virgin America, Southwest and JetBlue are known to have bigger seats, as compared to smaller airlines.

    Traveling with small children, I am pretty much always placed in the back — meaning we get to sit right next to the bathroom line and we have way less room to move around. No, you’re not imagining it — seats in the front have more room. The closer you are to the tail, the seats end up being narrower. Another non-bonus is that the very last row does not recline.

    If you’re a frequent flyer on a particular carrier, try to sweet talk your way into an upgrade. We’re not just talking about Business or First Class (although these are a more remote possibility) — there are also premium economy seats which can be had with a little bit of begging (assuming no other passenger has decided to pay for one).

    And, finally, persistence and booking your flight as early as possible, can often lead to better seat selection. Log in periodically to check what seats are available. Often airlines will “hold” the better seats, but will eventually release them to the general public. It’s also worth trying to ask at the gate or check-in counter person once you arrive at the airport to see if just maybe, a better seat has opened up.

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    don laskin on August 8, 2013:
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