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  • Writer's pictureRosanne Knorr

How to Snag a Better Seat on a Flight

Economy cabins are sardine cans to begin with, but not all sardine seats are created equal. The difference in size, space, and comfort depends on how many seats the airline positioned (aka jammed) in that particular aircraft.

For space, the two main factors are seat pitch (the distance between you and the seat back in front of you) and seat width (how cozy do you want to be with the person next to you, anyway?) This is where comes in.

The site displays seat maps for each airline's specific aircraft showing seat pitch and width, pluses and minuses of that position in the aircraft, and amenities such as power port availability. You may even find specific issues with that seat via comments from passengers who’ve already sat there!

I learned about the hard way. A few years ago a friend and I jumped on a low fare to Portugal round-trip without checking details. Once on-board, the horror hit. I wasn't alone; passengers' faces were aghast when they got a view of the jammed-together seats. The one next to me was bandaged together with tape holding a rip together. This would take us eight hours across the Atlantic?!

Were those seats really the tightest I’d ever flown in economy? Actually, they were. I double-checked afterwards. Yes, that United flight had recently crammed extra rows into the aircraft.

From now on, I’ll be verifying seating on Seat Guru before I book. Then I'll be able to select another airline or aircraft with a better seat configuration. Or even decide if it's worthwhile to dish out more of my travel budget to breathe.

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