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5 tips for getting a better seat when you fly

Travel expert George Hobica recently shared his best tips for getting a more comfortable seat on the plane. Here are some of them.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 11, 2014 1:09PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Anyone who's familiar with flying understands the importance of getting a good seat on the plane. Travel expert George Hobica recently wrote a post on airfarewatchdog  about how you can fly in comfort by following a few simple tips.

Here are our favorites from his list:

1. Don't buy the expensive "premium economy seat"

When booking a flight online with an airline that has both economy and "premium" economy seating, you may be told that "only premium economy seats are available" when you try to pick a seat. Of course, that comes with a heftier price tag. Don't fall for this ploy! Hobica noted:

This doesn't mean that you won't eventually get a seat assignment or a seat (if you get involuntarily bumped, that's another story, but it rarely happens). Don't cough up the extra money for a premium seat. If in fact all the "cheap" seats are taken, you'll get a premium economy seat when you check in. You can also try calling the airline directly to see if they'll give you a seat assignment.

Senior Couple Sitting Together on a Plane © Digital Vision/Getty Images2. Check first-class fares

Business- and first-class fares can come with a hefty price tag -- but not always.

Oftentimes first-class fares go for the same price as refundable coach fares and little more than economy. Hobica recalls, "Recently I flew from New York JFK to Boston in first class on American for $140 each way, when economy class (or cattle class) on the Delta Shuttle was charging $400 from LaGuardia."

3. Use

SeatGuru has seat maps for most airlines and aircrafts. The site includes seat advice, user comments and photos to help you select a more desirable seat.

4. Fly on slow travel days

Hobica says fewer people travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which means there's a greater chance that the middle seat will stay open.

5. Choose a legroom-friendly airline

Looking to stretch out your legs? JetBlue may be the airline for you, boasting seat rows spaced 33 to 34 inches apart in coach. Those 2 to 3 inches can make a big difference in passenger comfort. According to SeatGuru, JetBlue's "even more space" seats range from a roomy 37 to 41 inches apart.

More on Money Talks News:

Feb 11, 2014 2:35PM

This report is flawed at best.  #1 is true, but you may not get seats together, if that's important.  #2 is slightly true, but VERY rare.  Certain routes will offer 1st or Biz class at a reasonable rate, but those are few and far between.  Jet Blue is a great airline, but only flies from hubs, so if you start from a regional airport, the rate would be ridiculous to switch between the carriers.

Stupid report!

Feb 11, 2014 2:17PM
Feb 11, 2014 5:07PM
Wonder how many times they will recycle this story.
Wow... I always get stuck on the wing with a leather helmet and goggles...

These people are flying INSIDE the plane......

Feb 12, 2014 10:47AM
This is dumb information...I fly often and most of the airlines will nickel & dime you for everything if there is a buck to be made.  Maybe 20 years ago this worked but i have not seen it lately.
Feb 12, 2014 8:48AM
I have a better solution .... don't fly on a plane, if you don't have to.
Feb 22, 2014 7:25AM
Pay $12 extra and get a guaranteed A boarding pass on Southwest, which gives you a lot more choice on available seating when you board the plane, plus Southwest allows free carry-on bags and hauls two checked bags for free, and has no change fees either! 

When flying on Alaska Airlines hang around the gate counter until just before boarding, when Alaska will try to sell-off any remaining first-class seats for $50.  I have done that twice now myself.

I even got a first-class seat on United once at LAX.  I flew there from Denver, and DIA had a 60 minute check-in requirement for checked bags.  When i went to fly back to Denver the LAX gate agent informed me that because I hadn't checked-in more than the required 2 hours before the flight, that I had lost my seat. 

I then asked him why the check-in time at LAX was double that of DIA, even though United's Denver operation was bigger than their LAX operation, and the closest United gate to the DIA terminal is almost a mile away.   After that he got on the phone and then he gave me and at least a dozen other Denver-bound passengers first class seats for free!  

Will that be smoked salmon or a bagel with cream cheese to go with your White Russian sir?  OMG what a lot of fun that was, all for the price of a coach ticket.  Of course, I don't know that I would recommend trying it again either!

If you want better onboard service when flying to Europe or South America, as well as a special bonus at customs on your way back, fly Air Canada out of Toronto instead, as their seats are just a little bigger and their service level in coach is US business-class, plus they have free wifi, free cable TV at every seat that features a free random-access onboard movie library, on-board duty-free shopping, free cocktails in coach, one free checked bag, and every seat has a 110-volt outlet too. 

The special customs bonus at YYZ gives US-bound transfer passengers a special US passengers only customs set-up where you check both Canadian and US Customs before you fly home, so you walk right off at home like you are coming off a domestic flight.  I came into YYZ on a stretch 777 and yet my entire time involved to clear both Canadian and US Customs before my flight back to Denver was about 10 minutes!   Try that at LAX or JFK someday! 

Stay away from American's old MD-80s if you can help it, especially the coach A-B seats, as they are pretty tight.  Did I tell you that I broke one of their old seats right off once?  Yeah, I sat down in the row 33 aisle seat and leaned back, and SNAP, it turned into a sleeper seat!   So, if you would rather have a sleeper seat on old American MD-80s, just request the row 33 aisle seat and sit down hard! 

If you are like me, about 6'5", and you would rather have an extended coach seat with extra legroom, just pay extra for it, as that way they can't give it to somebody else!    One more tip:  Sit near the front so that when the airline calls for volunteers you can get there more-quickly than anyone sitting in the back can too!   C'mon, airline flying can be a lot of fun!

Feb 16, 2014 1:31PM

Imagine if you could take high-speed rail (200 mph) from Orlando (city center) to Philadelphia (city center) in 5 hours. 


Talk to your lawmakers about implementing high-speed rail in the US so we can enjoy what the Japanese have had since 1964 and the French have had since 1981 (google TGV-est).

Feb 12, 2014 1:27AM
The websight  seams to focus more on legroom and less on seat width. I am wide across the shoulders and sort of overflow a small coach seat. Does anyone have a tip for the widest reasonably priced seat for a domestic flight? 
Feb 11, 2014 7:36PM
The airlines' games really piss me off.  They are s****ing parasitic SOB's who cram people onto their now obsolete planes--planes that could fly a couple hundred mph faster, except that they don't want to pay for the extra fuel.  The only bonus to us passengers is that they are not polluting more.
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