When it comes to being comfortable on a flight, these factors are in play with regards to airline seats:
To complicate things further, there used to be just three classes:
Frequent fliers who are accustomed to upgrades also know how to secure the best seat in coach. Here are their pro tips for scoring a seat in the main cabin and still feeling comfortable.
In the never-ending quest to gain profits, airlines have figured out how to divide up an entire class of seats. Economy class isn’t just plain old economy anymore, it’s divided into premium economy and economy plus before you get to regular economy.
Confused yet? We don’t blame you. It’s complicated.
As you move down the aisle from the cockpit to the back of the plane, premium economy is just past the business class seats. A seat in premium economy is more expensive than regular old economy (as high as double the price) but still typically 65% less than business class.
On average, premium economy offers 5-7 inches more legroom and more space to recline.
Often in premium economy, passengers don’t have to pay fees on checked bags. They may also accrue miles at a different rate than a regular coach ticket.
Just past the premium economy seats is economy plus. It’s more affordable and part of the main class cabin, but there’s typically slightly more legroom than basic economy.
Many airlines offer economy plus tickets and brand it something else just to make things difficult.
Honestly though, by the time you read and share this newsletter, the airlines will have figured out how to scramble up the benefits. And that takes us to our next tip.
There are several ways you can learn what each airline offers for the different seat classes, starting with the airline’s website.
Read up on the various classes so you’re informed before you book.
Get really curious about the differences because the decisions that come with choosing the right seat can be fairly overwhelming.
Let’s start a little thanks for the babies. FAA regulations mandate that airplane seats have to be wide enough, at a minimum, to accommodate a child restraint system. A child restraint system used on an airplane may measure up to 16 inches wide, so that’s the minimum size.
Consider thinking about that the next time you’re sitting near an upset crying baby. Maybe it will help.
Currently, all US airlines go beyond that federal minimum, but not by much:
The legroom in economy class seems to shrink as airlines add newer, more efficient, and tighter aircraft to their fleets.
The US airlines with the most legroom are as follows:
Lots of travelers like to book the emergency row simply for the extra legroom. There are also some requirements for sitting in the exit row: at least 15 years of age and sufficient mobility in both arms, hands, and legs.
Some airlines charge extra to sit in the exit row, so booking early helps.
Ultimately, it comes down to picking the best seat for you. Boredom and stuck-ness are the enemy when flying economy, so do your best to decompress and get comfortable.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.