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airline seating

When I book a flight to Europe, I spend a lot of time trying to get a decent seat. All airlines have ridiculously unfair rules (IMO) about where I can sit. I always book economy and invariably am put over a wing or in the back of the plane. I reserve the flight often six months in advance and pay a ton of money. If I complain, they say they have "preferred" seating for "special" passengers. I was quoted a price on Delta of up to $250 for a seat just behind business class. Any way to fix this or should I just suck it up?

Posted by
2876 posts

<<<I always book economy and invariably am put over a wing or in the back of the plane.>>> On most planes, the great majority of economy-class seats are over the wings or behind them. Welcome to the club.

Posted by
9363 posts

What are you trying to fix? Are you talking about an additional fee of $250 for a particular seat? Many airlines have instituted fees for choosing your seat in advance, so that's no surprise (although that is a ridiculous amount). The rules aren't unfair - they are the same for everyone. You have to pay for privilege. I would never pay for an advance seat assignment. Perhaps you could find a better deal with a different airline.

Posted by
9110 posts

Look on the bright side. The wing root to fuselage attachment is the strongest part of the flying machine. It's the ends that forever seem to come unglued in most crashes. Exit doors are handy as well.

Posted by
74 posts

I am more concerned about bin space, than where I sit, since I refuse to check luggage if at all possible. Worst case scenerio? getting to Europe without your luggage! Often times they load the rear of the plane first in the general seating, and at least you can usually find a spot for your carry-on luggage. D.

Posted by
990 posts

I'm curious as to why you find this 'ridiculously unfair,' in your words. Somebody is going to sit in those seats, after all. On what basis do you think they should be allocated that would be fairer? The "preferred" seating for "special" passengers is allocated to frequent flyers. Although you may think you've paid a "ton of money" for your seat, elite frequent flyers have paid many, many times as much for the seats they buy annually. Airlines think that giving the choicest seats to those who give them the most revenue makes the most business sense. So the easiest way to "fix" it is to fly often enough that you earn elite status on the airline in question.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the (mostly) positive replies. The bottom line is always the money, isn't it. I don't know how to become a "frequent flyer" and I should have asked for that information instead of just complaining.
I'm actually feeling safer knowing I'm over the wing!

Posted by
9363 posts

The only way to become a frequent flyer is to fly frequently with a particular airline/alliance.

Posted by
9110 posts

What I forgot to say about the nifty part of sitting over the wings is that's the center of effort for the lift vector - - vertical motion about the longitudinal axis is minimal (think about sitting in the middle of a teeter-totter instead of on the ends). If things get bumpy at the pointy ends, you don't feel it in the middle. I haven't flown a great deal and tend to barf a lot, so I study up on these things.

Posted by
871 posts

Thanks for the info, Ed! I don't barf, but I tend to get extremely anxious at even the least bit of turbulence, so the less of it I notice the better!

Posted by
1035 posts

"The bottom line is always the money, isn't it. I don't know how to become a "frequent flyer" and I should have asked for that information instead of just complaining. I'm actually feeling safer knowing I'm over the wing!" Well, yes, for the airlines it is about the money. Like any for-profit business, especially publicly traded companies with shareholders, it is their obligation to generate profit. The margins for airlines can be extremely slim, which is why you see so many mergers and chapter 11 filings with airlines, even in a good economy. The pricing of an individual flight is a perfect example of the law of supply and demand. To sign up for a frequent flyer program head to the website of your favorite airline. It is always free to sign up and they will usually throw you some miles just for signing up. Even if don't fly a lot, there are ways to pile up the mileage (check website for details). Those who have a fear of flying, especially when turbelannce hits like Anna mentioned, I can't recommend Patrick Smith's "Ask the Pilot" on Salon enough. Smith is a commercial airline pilot and breaks down the myths of modern flight. Search the archives, he talks a lot about what people perceive as dangers, but really aren't. http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/index.html

Posted by
11801 posts

Most economy seats are pretty bad. After seatguru.com came out and rated seats, passengers wanted the better seats - so airlines started charging a premium for them. I consider the flight the worst part of my trip and I have pretty easy standards. If it takes off/lands on time and I end up in the right place, I'm happy.

Posted by
1798 posts

Brad is right on, check with seatguru.com when booking your flight. Worse seats are by the bathrooms, or middle of the center of the plane, or right by the galley.
I always try to get an aisle seat so I can stretch out my legs. I WAS a frequent flyer up until this year. I lost my privileges, missed it on United by 6,000 miles (should have figured out one more trip to Europe- but no money) I was able to pick some great seats, right up front, right behind business class. (flew a few times business until United made it too many miles for the seats) Still have enough miles for another trip, but I won't get to pick where i sit now, I'll be in the back with everyone....that being said, the plane gets everyone there about the same time. It's just that the first people off the plane get through customs first, which is important if you have a connecting flight, not so if you are at your final destination.

Posted by
21671 posts

Still don't understand the problem or question. You paying the cheapest price possible, seldom fly on that air line so you are not a repeat customer, yet expect to receive a premium seat so that customers paying high fares or using that airline more often are sent to the poorer seats. Is there something missing here that I do not understand?

Posted by
9 posts

I think $1200 IS paying for a premium seat. I don't get a premium seat. I doubt if repeat customers are paying any more than I am. I understand what's happening but I certainly don't have to like it or think it's fair. Nuf said.

Posted by
4660 posts

Marcia, You are right that the repeat customers are probably paying the same as you for this one flight ... but they have probably paid about 10 times more in total to the airline in the last year. To earn elite status in a frequent flyer program, they most likely flew 25,000+ miles or 15 round-trips in the regular seats before they got the opportunity to move to a better seat at no additional charge. I used to think it wasn't terribly fair myself until I started having to fly every 2 to 3 weeks enduring all the normal challenges of flying. After about 8 months of this, I finally had enough points to get to board the plane first and sit near the front. Unfortunately, this was on a domestic airline so when I fly international, I sit in the back of the plane with all the "regular" passengers because I too don't want to pay extra and to this airline I am not a "special" passenger. Unfortunately, flying isn't particularly fun for anyone in economy.

Posted by
21671 posts

These days, $1200 is not a premium fare. That is about average for a European economy flight especially if traveling at peak time. Delta recent stated a new program similar to United's Economy Plus for seats with 5" for leg room behind business class. We paid $90/person each way last year on United. I assume that Delta's $$250 is the round trip is cost for the premium or more spacious seats in economy that Delta is now offering. And the repeat customers are paying these extra fees either with frequent flier points or cash. You are right it is all about the money. In order to keep fare lower they have to make it up with extra fees.

Posted by
284 posts

You paid $1,200 for a cheap seat. You may have paid more or less than other individuals sitting in the cheap seats. You may have paid more or less than others sitting in a better seat. Seats are not assigned based on how much one pays but instead what one pays for when they buy the ticket. Next time buy a better seat when you do the original purchase. Edwin

Posted by
1035 posts

"I think $1200 IS paying for a premium seat. I don't get a premium seat. I doubt if repeat customers are paying any more than I am. I understand what's happening but I certainly don't have to like it or think it's fair. Nuf said." What is not fair in this? Not fair is being discriminated against, having your rights withheld, or being charged more than others. The rest of us have to take a seat in the back of the bus at the same price, but you feel entitled to special treatment? Reality check time.

Posted by
871 posts

Michael, what an addictive read! I will definitely have to make my way through those posts -- "fear of flying" is practically my middle name.

Posted by
4370 posts

Check on those 'premium' seats 48-24 hours (perhaps even sooner) before the departure time; they often open them up to anybody. You can change them yourself online, most likely. "special" passengers" Hey, that was ME (until a few weeks ago...sniffle). I take great offense ;-) Now I rejoin the cattle in the back 2/3 of the airplane (shuffling along with all the other mooing cattle)...