Tall Travel

Airplane Information

SeatGuru provides a source for airplane seat information.

  • Do you have a long flight coming up and want a quiet seat?
  • Could you really use some extra legroom? [...uh..yeah...]
  • Do you keep getting stuck in a seat that doesn't recline?
  • Have you paid extra for Business Class and want the best seat?

To find the best airline seats in First Class, Business Class or Coach, visit SeatGuru,
select the airline and aircraft out of their handy menu. Roll over the seat with your cursor and a description appears.

Tall Airline Travelers Ask Flyana
July 23, 2004 - Jet Smart Newsletter

"Do I have legal grounds to demand a seat on an airplane that fits? Do you think the airlines are aware of the situation?" — The airlines have lost one lawsuit from a tall passenger; then won a second suit. ...

Extra Leg Room - How To

by Scott Tietjen, Atlantic Tall Club

I've flown a lot in the past and find that the best way to get exit row seating is to be at the airport at least two (maybe even three!) hours before flight time -- that's when they seem to release exit row seats to the gate agents so they can put people there. If you're
nice to them (i.e., no attitude) and ask at check in, "If possible, I'd like to get a seat with leg room, like bulkhead or exit row", they'll frequently accommodate you if they can.

On the other hand, it's a bit harder these days to actually see a gate agent (especially 2-3 hours before flight time) -- I for one usually check in via the internet before I leave for the airport. As part of that process you can sometimes see if there are other seats available to switch into, maybe even exit row!

And, now, my problem -- although I'd like the extra leg room of an exit row, most airlines place special seats in the exit and bulkhead rows, these seats have the tray table built into the armrest. The seats are already the narrow minimum width for ordinary people, but
someone like me, with a wider than normal tail just does not fit between those two @#$%^&* armrests, so even though I want the leg room, I can't use those seats. To add insult to my body-- the bulkhead row is usually a solid wall all the way to the floor. Since I also have long feet, even though my knees would fit fine in a bulkhead seat, my toes won't fit, which super-flexes my knees a bit too much for flights lasting longer than an hour. If the designers would only put a little "toe space" at the bottom of the bulkhead my knees would be much happier.

Luckily, for the past couple of years, American Airlines is the one airline that has been advertising more more leg room in coach -- they took out two rows of seats on (nearly?) all planes, and re-spaced the seats by an extra couple of inches, so now I can sit in ordinary coach. (I still prefer an aisle seat so at least one leg can stretch into the aisle). I've flown with AA a number of times, and ordinary coach has been almost enjoyable (even if the fool in front of me tries to recline his seat -- on other airlines, they can't (evil laugh)). However, I think I read recently that AA was losing too much money because of the lost revenue on 10-20 seats per plane, and were considering putting back in the extra rows. (I don't suppose they could compromise and only put back in one extra row? Maybe leave half the seats with extra space, and not the others, rather than average it across the plane? Nah, that would be too much work for them.)

In the old days, an event like convention could negotiate with an airline to be the "preferred carrier" for the event, and you'd get a slight discount if you used a special booking code -- too bad we (TCI) can't negotiate AA being the "Official Airline" of
Tall Clubs International (rather than just of the TCI Convention). If we were a larger organization, that might give them the incentive to keep the longer seat spacing.

A word about implementation -- Ideally, seating preferences could be accommodated via an person's frequent flyer number for an airline. If the airlines would bother to set up these preferences and if they had some mechanism that would "magically" open up the
exit row/bulkhead seats for tall people before they get opened for ordinary people or gate agents. But again, height is not supposed to be a handicap (except for those short-haul micro-birds that barely have 5'6" internal ceilings), and there's nothing forcing the airlines to accommodate us, so they're not going to bother if there's no incentive for them to do so. I agree that suing them isn't going to make them want to do anything to accommodate us and our needs.

The only other thing you can do is to make sure you fly often enough each year to become a member of the airline's "elite" frequent flyer program -- then you can get perks like cheap or free upgrades to business or first class where available. Unfortunately, that tends to require some 20K miles flown in a year, or 30 segments in a year (at four segments per round trip, that's over seven trips per year). C'est la vie...

-- Scott Tietjen, Atlantic Tall Club

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