Need More Legroom? Buy Some, Says Airline

Legroom in coach continues to be a big issue with air travelers who would love to stretch out like those lucky people in first class. Side-to-side room is also of interest as those flying on airlines without assigned seating hope no one sits next to them. Now, one airline has a way to make it all better.

Main Cabin Extra makes travel more comfortable by providing you with 4 to 6 inches of additional legroom and Group 1 boarding,” said an email I received from American Airlines encouraging me to pay a bit more for coach seats. That’s an extra fee they don’t have to talk me into either. On American Airlines 767-300, 757 and 777-300ER aircraft I have paid as little as $9 for the pleasure.

Added on up until the airport check-in cut-off time, prices range between $8 and $118 per flight and can be purchased when checking in for a flight through airport self-service machines, AA Reservations, and through select travel agencies.

Different airlines call it by a different name but it all adds up the same: more space.
Ask me to pay $20 for checking a bag (or up to $150 for an overweight bag), $50-$150 per ticket to make a change in plans or any one of a score of other fees and I simply won’t do it. Tell me I can stretch out for a few dollars and I am all for it.

“Airlines aren’t chasing volume anymore, they’re chasing the bottom line,” explains Mike Boyd, chairman of Boyd Group International, an Aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Colorado, in a Fox News report.

Indeed, holiday airfare shoppers already know that the number of flights is down as airlines choose to fly full planes that generate more profit. Not all that long ago, three classes of seating were available and clearly defined. At the top was first class, followed by business class, then economy coach seating. Today, premium economy is coming more into focus as one of the best travel values available.

“Part of this is this premium economy thing. Business class has become the battleground,” added Boyd. “That went up and up in terms of perks but has become too expensive, so now we’ve gone back to introducing another class – we’ve gone full circle. And internationally, premium economy is what business class was 20 years ago.”

Personally, it surprises me that more travelers don’t choose this inexpensive travel option. There are a limited number of exit row or expanded economy seats available but I almost always find one for a small fee when checking in for a flight.

Another steal, perhaps the gold ring of travel values, is same-day upgrades to first class on the day of departure. Domestic flights are commonly $50 more; international flight upgrades to first class (complete with bragging rights that define one as a savvy air buyer) can be a couple hundred.

[Photo credit- Flickr user Fly For Fun]