Flying High - In Better Seats!

Not all airline seats are created equal.

When it comes to getting a good one in the coach section of a plane, most people will say they want a seat by a window or on the aisle, and, of course, lots of legroom.

So how do you get those good seats? The Early Show Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen says there are some very simple things you can do.

Some airlines are doing what they can to make passengers happy when it comes to getting a good seat. For instance, suggests Koeppen, be aware of airline seating patterns.

After hearing customers complain about a lack of legroom, Jet Blue removed six seats from the back of the plane. "By taking out one row, we were able to add two inches of legroom for 13 rows on our planes, and that's a lot," says Jet Blue spokesman Todd Burke.

And, says seating expert Susan Daimler, people are very interested in finding good seats.

Daimler and her husband run a Web site called SeatGuru.com. It lists all the major airlines, their planes, and seat charts, plus detailed information about why some seats are better than others.

The site's popularity, says Daimler, is taking off. "Right now, we are seeing 10,000 people a day who come" to the site, she says. "There's a lot of people going on planes. There's a lot of people who spent the money and want to be comfortable."

For many people, comfort means legroom. Everyone knows the exit row is roomy. But if you are sitting in a normal coach seat, you should know that not all coach seats are created equal.

"A lot of people think that the same plane, like an American 757, is the same as a United 757, and that's not true," Daimler points out. "The airlines can design the plane as they want it."

Jet Blue's removal of one row means more legroom for people in rows 11 and back.

To figure out how much legroom you are going to have on a flight, Koeppen says, you need to find out something called seat pitch. It's the point from one seat to the same exact point on another seat behind it.

The standard in coach on most planes in coach is 31 inches. Some planes have as much as 34.

"People will say, 'What's an extra inch or two inches?' It actually makes a huge, huge difference," Daimler notes.

You can find seat pitch information on SeatGuru.com, Koeppen adds.

Daimler says picking a seat on the left or right also can make a difference. "Some planes will have 31 pitch on one side and 32 pitch on the other side."

Armed with all of this information, Koeppen says, you can choose the seat you want and tell the employee at the ticket counter exactly where you would like to sit.

You can also jump ahead of others in line by checking in at one of the kiosks many carriers offer. They'll give you your seat number, and let you switch seats if you don't like what you see.

You can even check in as much as 24 hours in advance of a flight's scheduled departure time on the Web sites of many airlines, Daimler says. And that's the best way to get a seat in those roomier exit rows.

Another tip? Good, old-fashioned sweetness to ticket agents.

Flash a big smile, Koeppen says. And be very specific. Don't walk up and say, "Hey, do you have a better seat? What is a better seat?" Instead, find a seat and say, "Hey, do you have the aisle seat in row 10?"

One last tip: Watch what other passengers do, and try to get their seats if you like them more than yours and they vacate them for any reason; say, if they get bumped up to first class.
  • Brian Dakss

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