Tag Archives: Seat Guru

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny airplane seat

It’s the story of the incredibly shrinking airplane seat.  Which is ironic because as people seem to be getting bigger the seats are getting smaller.  Check out this handy comparison courtesy of Bill McGee of USA Today.
(Note – Pitch = the distance in inches from a given point on one seat to the same point on the seat in the next row)

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And it is not only seat pitch – but as our bottoms are getting bigger the width of the seats have been shrinking

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As the seats shrink the popularity of the “premium economy” seat has risen – at a cost.  Now you can get extra leg room and sometimes extra width on many airlines.  Here is an interesting chart –  Premium Economy comparison on the Seat Guru site.

Now – there is a lot of talk about larger people flying and how this is a huge inconvenience to regular sized passengers.  It’s a difficult topic and while some airlines are trying to get larger people to buy two seats this awkward decision is probably left to the check in agent who seems to be the general punching bag for all the world’s pent-up travel frustration.

While researching for this article I came across this website –

Website – Flying While Fat website.  This is an interesting read and offers a different perspective on the whole issue.  However sympathetic you may be there is no doubt that a few hours flying in a tube in the air in a cramped seat is not going to put you in the best frame of mind.


  • if you can afford it upgrade – premium economy is worth every inch!
  •  Book your flight early and if you have to pay for seat selection do it.  It’s worth it.
  •  If there is an extra charge for the exit row that too is worth your while.
  •  If you are not happy with your seat assigned during your online check in speak to the gate agent.  Remember to smile!  They are people too and you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.
  • If you are travelling as a couple you can try to book the aisle and window and leave the middle seat empty.  The middle seats are usually the last to go – but it doesn’t work all the time (I know this from experience).
  • Cut down on the amount of stuff you take on the plane – bags, hats, coats, books.  It all takes up more of your personal space – especially if the overhead bin is full.

Bums in seats

It’s the airline mantra – just get bums in those seats and at least we are not flying at a loss.  But how do the bums feel about this?  Are they comfortable, squashed, numb, fidgety?  It’s all about the seats and that thing they call “pitch”.
(Distance between the back end of a seat and the front end of the seat behind it. Also called leg room. – courtesy of The Business Dictionary).seat-pitch-300x223

You won’t easily find this information on airline websites – and if you do please let me know because I looked in vain.  That’s why I think Seat Guru is the neatest web site out there and I always consult it when I fly.  www.seatguru.com has a list of just about every airline with all of their aircraft and display full seat maps with comments on each seat as to whether it is good, bad or horrible.  They have even made it easy by colour coding the seat map.  You can also read up some more about seat pitch in this excellent article by David Parker Brown at http://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/comparing-airline-seat-pitches-who-has-the-worst/

So it is no surprise that when airlines “cram ’em in” people get cranky, flight attendants get frustrated and bums get just plain fed up.  Would it really make such a difference in the bottom line or the profit margin to airlines if they gave just a couple of inches more leg room?

More airlines are offering Economy Premium or Economy Plus options which are available for an additional cost.  And you know what?  People are prepared to pay.  Well not all people.  On a recent KLM flight I had paid the additional fee to upgrade to Premium Economy – $200 per segment for a couple of inches but worth it on a long flight.  After take off some cheeky fellow sauntered up to the Premium Economy area and made himself comfortable in one of the unoccupied seats.  I could feel every paying passenger around me literally bristle at this audacity.  But never fear – the Dutch were on it!

“Excuse me, sir.  Can I see your boarding pass?  I am sorry sir.  Your boarding pass is for the economy seats.  This is premium economy.  Please return to your allocated seat.”

“Well there’s no-one sitting in this seat.  I can’t see why I can’t just sit here.  It’s really crowded back there.”

“I am sorry sir.  These seats are reserved for passengers who have paid an additional fee for them.  Please would you return to your allocated seat.”

“Well it’s very cramped there and I don’t see why I should spend the whole flight in discomfort when there is a perfectly good seat here.”

“You are most welcome to pay the additional fee for the economy premium seat sir.  I can process that to your credit card.”  (YES!!!)

“No thanks.  I have never had such bad service in my life.  I will NEVER fly KLM again.”  (Good riddance).