Getting Comfortable In Coach

January 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Of all the inconveniences associated with air travel, one of the worst is being squeezed sardine-like against your fellow passengers in an overcrowded coach cabin. If you resent having your “personal space” invaded, flying coach can be an ordeal.

Getting comfortable in coach can be difficult.

But those spacious first class seats are too expensive for most of us. So, what’s a compressed, budget-conscious air traveler to do?

An effective approach is to request an exit row seat. While you may pay a little more (and will be expected to remove the escape door in the event of an emergency), you’ll enjoy significantly more arm and leg room.

A less obvious technique — if the exit row is already booked — is to request a seat in the row immediately behind it. Normally, exit row seats don’t recline, so you’re assured that the snoozing passenger directly in front of you won’t suddenly lean back into your lap.

You can also increase leg room by not storing anything under the seat in front of you. Simply pack your Travelpro® Rollaboard® properly, and place it in the overhead bin.

Another common approach is to request an aisle seat. While some travelers swear that window seats are roomier, most agree that having the aisle to one side gives you a greater sense of openness. On full flights, requesting a two-seat row instead of a three-seat row also lessens the number of bodies in close proximity.

If the flight isn’t full, you can always move to rows that aren’t full. Plus, you can choose planes with the fewest middle seats (for example, no middle seats are assigned on a 767 until it’s 87% full), or those flying at off-peak times (primarily midweek and midday), decreasing the likelihood of the plane being full. Use Orbitz’s Flexible Search tool to determine scheduled aircraft and flights booked at less than capacity.

Another option for making your coach class experience more enjoyable is comparing seat dimensions (on and choosing flights with the roomiest seats. On domestic flights, coach seats vary from 16.5″ to 18″ in width, and 30″ to 36″ in pitch (total distance between rows). On international flights, the seat’s width ranges from 17″ to 20″ and pitch ranges from 31″ to 42″.

Finally, you should always select the best seat available when you book your flight. Then monitor seat maps online and, if a better choice comes up, change your seat assignment.

Flying coach class doesn’t have to be a claustrophobic nightmare. With a little planning, you’ll have plenty of room to maneuver.

Photo: knight725 (Flickr)

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