The best economy class seats (no additional fee required!)

George Hobica, February 28, 2013
Fares from Washington DC:

    Can’t be, won’t be cramped when flying? If you’re tired of squeezing into what seems like that ever-shrinking bit of real estate the airlines call an economy class seat, you’re not alone.

    In an era where it’s often necessary to shell out extra bucks to get the kind of seat you used to be able to get as part of your base ticket price, we have to wonder: How long before they start charging us to even sit down at all?

    But even now, in this time of downsized seats and rising fares, it’s important to remember that not all coach class accommodations are created equally terrible.

    Sure, there are the dreaded seats that don’t recline on Spirit Airlines and have an excruciating 28 inches between seats (they call them “pre-reclined,” and for doing so, Spirit ought to get an award for the best /worst public relations spin, ever), or the brutally stingy sizing that we must take for granted on too much of the Delta fleet (that airline’s 737-800 models, to cite one example, have as few as 30 inches of  “seat pitch” according to SeatGuru whereas Southwest’s 737-800 models have as much as 33 inches (and yes, two inches makes all the difference).

    Some airlines (we’re talking to you, JetBlue) prefer to leave customers with intact knees at the end of their flight. Which is very kind of them, indeed. Some have seats so wide, you might even call them roomy. Others supply still more bells and whistles, such as killer entertainment systems, leather seats and more. Sound plush? It can be, actually, if you book correctly. Best of all, you won’t have to pay a penny extra.

    For ten planes where being a cattle class passenger isn’t nearly as humiliating as you might think, check out Airfare Watchdog’s handy chart, here.

    Note: Seat pitch, if you’re unfamiliar, is the industry term denoting the distance between any one point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front or in back. Most experts say that 32” is the minimum before things start to get ugly, for anyone above average height. Width is important, as well – 17.5” inches or more is best, but in some cases, we’ve made an exception – and given an explanation.

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    Seating image via Shutterstock