As the cost to operate airlines has gone up in recent years, we’ve all been subject to the seemingly unfair new nickel-and-dime approach many airlines are now engaging in. But paying for what was once a complimentary beverage or footing the bill for your bags to fly with you was only the beginning, it seems.
Just today, The New York Times released an article by air travel expert and writer Joe Sharkey detailing some of the negative impacts of this penny-pinching approach by the airlines. According to Sharkey, some passengers are being put in an increasingly uncomfortable personal position as a result of airlines’ efforts to add revenues for even the slightest luxuries. Why?
Added costs for specific seats are making it harder for those people purchasing these seats to give them up when families and folks flying together ask, “Do you mind moving so we can sit together?”
The writer notes that additional charges for specific seats can be as much as $59, which is certainly outrageous, but what are we coming to, people?
Have we so soon forgotten how we felt when the school-girl version of Jenny tells Forrest, “You can sit here if you want,” on the bus in the film Forrest Gump? It’s such a stark act of kindness, it became one of the most memorable quotes in a film brimming with much more quotable lines.
Sharing your seat is a common courtesy. And so, for that matter, is giving paying customers the option to be courteous. Here are four ways to avoid this tough situation if you’re flying this summer:
1) Fly with an Airline that Won’t Squeeze You
Lots of airlines are not engaging in the charge-for-everything-besides-the-oxygen practices detailed above. Jetblue, for one, offers free beverages, free snacks and a free checked bag to every passenger. On top of that, Jetblue also offers 36 channels of free DIRECTV®, on a TV mounted in the headrest in front of you on ALL domestic flights. If the TV is broken, you get a $15 credit toward your next flight. Did I mention if they overbook the flight, they’ll give you $1,300 as a policy? I’ve never payed to change my seat during check-in on Jetblue, either. Yes, they do charge more for their “Even More Room” seats, but they also offer the the most leg room in coach in their regular seats.
2) Become a SeatExpert
It’s a bird? It’s a plane? It’s a website! SeatExpert.com to the rescue! Created by a father and son who grew weary of landing in terrible seats, SeatExpert.com features seat maps for the fleets of over 75 of the world’s top airlines, according to the site. That’s over 450 seat maps, all together! The founders of SeatExpert certainly seem passionate: They’ll even answer specific questions you submit, personally.
3) Sit in Seat 31A
Travel website SkyScanner.net conducted a recent poll of 1,000 fliers revealing that the least-desired seat on an airplane is 31A. Sit in this middle seat, and you’ll surely not be bothered. By the way, sitting in a middle seat could be the best way to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation in general. According to SkyScanner, only 1% of fliers prefer the middle over an aisle or window seat, so sitting there should make it easy to get up if you’re asked.
4) Ride in the Back of the Plane
SkyScanner also recommends sitting in the last row (where seats often don’t recline). That row is preferred by just 7% of passengers. If you’re part of the 93% of people who don’t want to sit all the way back there, just book a seat in the rear half of the plane. SkyScanner says 46% of people prefer a seat in the first six aisles. And anyway, the likelihood that a group will walk all the way to the back of the plane before asking someone to move is ultra slim. By our observations as passengers, this usually happens at the first aisle where the group is forced to part ways.
What do you think? Would you move at the request of another passenger? How can people avoid this uncomfortable situation? Weigh in below.