How to Fly Coach in Comfort
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Check Online: This may seem like a daunting decision, but several services are simplifying the search. Veteran SeatGuru.com’s color-coded airplane maps make it easy to spot the roomiest seats farthest from the bathroom on long- and short-haul flights. The site’s new Guru Factor (or G-Factor) “comfort rating system” grades the in-flight experience with the tags “love it,” “like it” or “live with it,” with scores based on legroom, comfort (defined as type of seat, seat pitch, width and recline), Wi-Fi, in-flight entertainment and more.
SeatExpert.com also has charts, albeit more simplified ones. Keep in mind that the legroom in an exit-row or bulkhead seat can be equivalent to business class on some airlines. However, more and more airlines are charging a premium for those coveted rows, and they do have drawbacks, namely narrower seats.
Routehappy, meanwhile, tracks more than a dozen seat “Happiness Factors,” from legroom and chair width to layout and connection length. Finally, Hipmunk.com initially sorts your search results by “agony” factor, which is a combination of the price, duration and number of stops. The only inconvenience is that none of these three sites are booking platforms, so you’ll have to take your favorite routes and reserve them elsewhere.
Seats to Avoid: Any seat with its back against a bulkhead or in front of exit rows won’t recline fully.
Stuck in the Middle? “I’ll ask at the gate if there are any middle seats in between two people with the same last name,” says travel writer John DiScala, better known as Johnny Jet. They may well give up the aisle or window to sit together.
—Reid Bramblett and Bree Sposato