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Buying 2 or 3 coach seats so you can sleep flat?

On another travel forum I heard about the idea of buying 2 or 3 coach seats for yourself for an overnight flight to Europe, so you can actually stretch out and sleep. Has anyone done this? I could afford it if I fly Icelandair (I've flown w/ them 3 times and was very pleased so far) -- three coach seats DC to Paris next spring would be about $1,200 --- way less than any "business class" seats which may not even lie flat. Now that I'm older and have arthritis and circulation issues, being able to sleep and stretch out is extremely important.

Posted by
6766 posts

I used to lay across the entire seat aisle back in the days when the airline cabin was only 80% full...it was still not comfortable and, even as a short person, I didn't lay out straight across but had to fold my body/legs. For me, the upside was very marginal (it's not the same as one of those true business class seats that recline fully). So I don't think it's worthwhile to pay a premium for 2-3 seats, unless you do not physically fit into a seat due to weight issues or whatever. I would take that money and pay for a nice massage upon landing or a nice hotel room with a real comfortable bed.

Posted by
1809 posts

I know people who have done it on Delta. You have to call the airline and make sure they understand what you are doing so they don't show your 'second" seat as a no show. I would contact Icelandair and discuss what you want to do to make sure they are going to allow it....

Posted by
2638 posts

I always check last minute to see what seats are available just before online checkin. On a few occasions I've found rows toward the back of the plane were empty and I was lucky enough to score three and four across rows with no other occupants. Doesn't always work but a joy when it does! Zzzzzz...

Posted by
3477 posts

Yes, buying multiple seats "for your convenience" is something many airlines offer. Each has its own process to insure you get seats that are together and are properly flagged so that they don't appear as no-show seats that can be filled by standby passengers. Pricing also varies by airline. Some will charge the same price for each seat you reserve, some give discounts for the extra seats. You will have to call and talk with someone at the airline most likely to insure you get what you want.

Posted by
5663 posts

Oversize passenger rules:
https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-tips/airline-policies-for-overweight-passengers-traveling-this-summer/

Southwest Airlines:

Passengers who cannot fit into a seat must purchase an extra seat,
either online or over the phone, although they offer cheaper rates
over the phone for the extra seat.

Alaska Airlines:

Passengers who cannot fit comfortably in a seat with the armrests down
must purchase a second seat

American Airlines:

American Airlines requires passengers to purchase an additional seat
or upgrade if they do not meet one of the following criteria:

Unable to fit into a single seat in their ticketed cabin and/or Unable
to properly buckle their seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender
(available upon request from a flight attendant) and/or Unable to
lower both armrests without encroaching upon the adjacent seating
space or another passenger.

etc.

Posted by
12544 posts

I do not read Cheryl's post as saying she is "oversize" at all; simply that she wants to lie down across all three seats. Some airlines will accommodate this ---- Air New Zealand sells a "sky couch" which is three seats together with footrests that can be raised to form a flat surface between the seats backs. All armrests but the aisle one raise fully. The 3 seats are priced differently than 3x regular economy fare, and can be booked by couples or individuals.

The problem is that the length is still only 5'1", so only appetite person can stretch out. Most would have to bend knees

Posted by
5459 posts

To me it is not worth the money, but it is clear that you would need to work through the specific airline's policy to guarantee you get what you want.

As someone else mentioned, just doing it yourself may cause issues with check-in, in an "overbooking" situation it could get ugly (I get bumped because you hog three seats ?), and they may preserve your three seats....but in three different locations, not to mention passenger counts. Lots of things to go wrong.

Posted by
5663 posts

Didn't say OP was oversize. Point is that airlines allow a single passenger to book more than one adjacent seat for their use.

That said, 2 seats didn't work for me. Half empty flight to CPH allowed us to move and wife and I were able to snag two seats (window + aisle) each. I'm too long for my upper body and to fit flat on two seats without bending my neck. The passengers who could snag the full middle row were the lucky ones.

At the price of three economy seats it would seem to be a better deal to go up to business class.

Posted by
2828 posts

Usually, searching carefully, you can find executive class seats for less than the price of 3 economy class seats.

I think almost all airlines flying the transatlantic routes now have "lie-flat" seats on executive class.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks all --- I've been trying to research all of those options but so far it seems that many "Business" or "Coach Plus" class don't recline all that much which I know, for me, means hardly any fitful sleep. Best thing I've found so far price-wise is either the idea I mentioned, or taking La Compagnie which is an all business class airline flying only Newark to Paris. I don't care about fancy service or food, I just want to lie down and sleep. I am average height and weight and know I would be very comfy if I could curl up on my side across 3 seats. I've tried sleeping semi-upright on trans Atlantic flights using various neck and pillow contraptions and it was really frustrating. Of course I could just suffer and power through, but I'd rather not. I have arthritis and a lifelong very low tolerance for even minor sleep deprivation.

Posted by
12544 posts

Doesn't that stop in the middle of the night in Reykjavik interrupt your sleep?

Have you looked at Open Skies? They have direct (non-stop) flights New York to Paris, and their Business Class has "true" 180 degree lie-flat beds. Prices start at $2600 RT.

https://www.britishairways.com/en-us/information/partners-and-alliances/openskies

I checked and it really is around $2600-2700 to fly Business Class to Paris on either BA or Open Skies next March-April ( the BA flight stops at Heathrow).

So is that price you found on Iceland Air one-way or roundtrip? If one-way, how are you getting back?

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you Lola! But three icelandair seats are only about $1,200! (I think that was one-way; I'm only looking for a comfy seat on the way over and will look for a bargain fare to come back since that will be daytime hours.)

Although the price you mention is indeed good compared to most true "first" or "business class" seats, I don't know if I could stomach paying over $2K.

Oh and to answer your other question: yes, stopping in Iceland does interrupt your sleep, but you still get a solid 5-6 hours going over the Atlantic for a HUGE cost savings.

Posted by
2168 posts

On my recent return from Amsterdam on KLM a young woman in the row in front of me had all 3 seats, and a woman in my row asked if she could be moved there and was told no, that passenger had paid for all 3 seats. Every time she stretched out her feet hung into the aisle and after being jostled about 15 times she sat up and that was the end of that.

Posted by
31 posts

Oh boy. Yeah, it's definitely a gamble. I also worry about dirty looks, screaming babies, or scariest of all -- arm rests that don't fold up! Game over!

Posted by
3923 posts

Cheryl, I would look at bulkhead seats and bringing some type of footrest. I've slept or attempted to sleep on flights from California to Seattle when the plane was empty, and I had a full set of 3 seats. For me, I ended up with neck pain and didn't really sleep.

Would it help to obtain a day-time flight, plan to walk every hour on the plane, and reserve a nice hotel to sleep on arrival, instead?

Posted by
12544 posts

Cheryl, I checked Icelandair and that $1200 for three seats is one-way eastbound. They price their tickets one way at a time and you can buy them that way if you like. But the return (westbound) is higher, so the roundtrip is $861 for the same spring dates I tested on Open Skies. So for three seats it would be $2583 roundtrip---very little less than the $2600-$2700 for a true flatbed seat in Business Class. And you wouldn't have to worry about armrests not raising up, or your three seats getting separated, or anything else. Plus you usually get priority through security and passport checks.

Of course, if you want to return on a daytime flight in one seat, that would be a lot less. But you might see if you can price that on Open Skies---might have to call them for the mixed cabin booking, Business over and Economy coming back.

Posted by
12544 posts

Mixed cabin on Open Skies can be booked online if you do Business Class over and Economy Comfort on the way back. Cost is $2200---probably about $500 more than the Icelandair booking wth 3 seats over and one coming back.

You could call Open Skies and ask if you can book Economy on the way back with a Business Class outbound flight. It might not be allowed with a two-Class difference, but you never know unless you ask.

Posted by
697 posts

We recently flew from London to Toronto (last Thursday) and for some reason, the back of the plane was almost empty. Once in the air, people moved around and there were several people, myself included, that had 3 seats to themselves so we all stretched out and took a nice little nap. It was a luxury I'm sure will never happen again. We weren't so lucky on the flight from Toronto to Dublin. We not only had a full plane but it included 2 babies who took turns screaming almost the entire flight. No sleep on that one.

Posted by
7798 posts

How tall are you? If more than 5' you will have to curl up some how, which will have some part of you hanging over the edge!

Do you turn over much when you sleep? Line up 3 chairs at home to see how that works for you, before you buy the 3 seats.

Posted by
4566 posts

I've had a full row of seats (by luck) several times and while you can stretch out, it really isn't easy to sleep. On some planes, the armrests cannot be fully raised so these end up jammed in your back. The other problem is when there is turbulence you have to keep your seatbelt on.

I see you are from Arlington. Have you looked at flying on the daytime United flight to London out of Dulles. It leaves around 8am and gets in around 9pm. Since you are flying during the day, you don't lose a nights sleep. Rather than waste the money on 3 seats, why noy take the daytime flight to London. Use the money that you would have spent on extra seats to get an economy plus seat, spend a couple of nights in a comfortable hotel in London, and then take the comfortable Eurostar to Paris.

Posted by
19404 posts

I'm another person who (in the distant past) was able to stretch out across 3 seats a couple of times. While anything is better than sitting up all night long, unable to sleep, I found lying across three airline seats quite uncomfortable, even aside from their narrowness. I was 5'4" back in those days. It wouldn't be worth it to me to buy three seats, but this is probably something you can only decide by trying it out yourself .

Posted by
2799 posts

Seems to me the 3seats aren't really a flat surface, they have contours. Sounds very uncomfortable to me, even though I am very small. How do you avoid extending legs out into the aisle?

Posted by
1893 posts

Cheryl,
Laura (above) mentioned exactly what I have experienced. The arm rests (in the up position) jam into my back and make for a really uncomfortable bed.

We've actually lucked up on a few flights to have a chance to test the comfort of having three sets to ourselves. On first thought it seems like a great idea, UNTIL you actually try to sleep..........the arm rests, the hanging over the edge, etc. I'll tall, but thin, and while I would probably try it again if three seats were available (and wound up being free to me due to no passengers being in them), I personally would not pay for two additional seats (due to lack of comfort). I even try to soften the arm rests with extra blankets for padding, etc. and the metal bulges won!

Posted by
31 posts

I recall from younger years that I could sleep quite comfortably if I had two Greyhound bus seats. Guess I kind of like the semi fetal position thing. As long as I'm more or less horizontal I'm good. (But good points, everyone, about needing to be buckled. Trust me I would figure it out!)

Previous flights I tried leaning back, using that bean shaped neck pillow thing, and trying to scrunch up against the window -- all fairly useless. The only thing that ever got me a few hours of fitful sleep was to put the tray table down, bunch up my jacket, lean forward, and sleep face-sideways on the jacket. At least I got the head-down position, but my neck and body got terribly crinked up so it's far from ideal.

The daytime London flight is definitely worth looking into. Thank you all so much for the great feedback!

Posted by
225 posts

Cheryl,
What a cool idea! I've never heard of that before. I will definitely look into it the next time I fly. And since I'm only 4'10", I could probably stretch out just fine - lol.
And Lola,
Would you please be my travel agent! You are so sweet, looking up all those details. You really know your stuff!

Lori