Time was, it didn’t matter where you sat on an airliner. There was only one aisle, there weren’t that many seats and legroom was decent. So when the airline assigned you your seat, your only real decision was whether you wanted to sit by a window or an aisle.
To say the least, things have changed.
Over the years, one aisle became two, one deck became two. The aisle and window seats became three on the side and God-knows-how-many in the middle. The airlines started cramming so many rows so close together that they transformed coach into Sardine Class.
And it’s not just legroom; unless you have the bodily dimensions of Twiggy in her heyday, sitting in some coach seats has become akin to strapping yourself into a vise.
Who designed these seats, anyway, the Marquis de Sade? For most of the flying public, the mere act of sitting in an airplane has become unconstitutional. You know, that whole “cruel and unusual punishment” thing?
If you’re tall and sit in front of a bulkhead, you may not be able to extend your legs because your feet have nowhere to go; your toes are pressed against the wall. Sit all the way in the back and your seat may not recline. Either way, you’re locked in place like a 1960s astronaut in one of those sublimely claustrophobic Mercury space capsules.
The airlines pay games with these seats, too. Those highly prized exit-row seats, which feature extra legroom, nearly always show up as “booked” the moment you make your reservation, even if you’re making it month or nearly a year in advance. Is that seat really booked already, or is the airline holding it in reserve for a customer with “elite” flying status?
More often than not, the answer is “B.”
Lately, airlines will let you upgrade your seat without haggling, or any extra $35 or thereabouts. Some will even let you buy your way into one of those precious exit row seats — for an even higher fee, of course. Yes, I know, it’s another way the airlines are gouging the flying public. but when you’re flying longer than a couple of hours, your comfort matters.
Even now, however, most still hold them back for their best customers.
Nowadays, unless you have enough bank to fly First or Business Class in these aerial cattle cars, where you sit matters. That means you need to take as much control as you can over choosing your seat. And control begins with knowledge.
There are Web sites give you that knowledge and you’ll find them on the Cool Travel Sites page. They’ll show you seat maps of the planes your airline uses, often right down to the specific type of plane scheduled for use on a given flight on a given day. You’ll learn why arcane terms like “seat pitch” matter to your comfort.
Then you can pick exactly the seats or even the airline you want — or at the very least, identify the ones you don’t want!
Already have seats assigned? You can now see exactly where these seats are and decide for yourself if they’re okay, or if you need to change them.
After that, it’s on you and the airline. Negotiate. Haggle. Wheedle, if need be. But get that seat!
Powered by Facebook Comments