Taking a cue from airlines like Northwest and US Airways that charge more for certain aisle and exit seats to increase revenue, some performing arts theaters are doing the same. According to this AP article, some theaters have found patrons willing to cough up as much as an extra $25 to sit in an aisle seat.
Although I can see that the extra cash comes in handy for the theatrical companies who are finding ways to make ends meet, there’s a certain aspect of this practice that I find annoying. When you buy theater tickets you already pay according to where you would like to sit–orchestra seats as opposed to the balcony, for example. And just because you’ve paid for an orchestra seat, doesn’t mean your seat is all that great.
Sometimes you could have seen better in the balcony depending on who is sitting in front of you. If there is a tall person with big hair, for example–or a person who can’t quite decide which way to lean, there you are struggling to see the stage. All that money you paid for a “good” ticket may not seem worth it by the middle of Act II.
If the theater is really looking to make money and to make seating more fair why not charge tall people more? Also, consider this. If there is a heavier person sitting in the middle because he or she can’t afford the $25 for an aisle seat, what does that do to the comfort of the other theater-goers around him or her?
Charging more for seats that are already a hefty price for most people seems elitist to me and not particularly fair. It seems like instead of drawing people to the theater, it’s one more way to detract some people from coming, i.e., older people with arthritis, people who have mobility problems, heavy people and people with long legs.
Although, on the other hand, if there are aisle seats that are available for people who actually need them because of size or some other physical condition, that seems fair. I would hate to think that some people are kept away from the theater because a physical issue that makes them and everyone else too uncomfortable unless they are able to pay extra to alleviate the problem.
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