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May 9, 2010

How much more would you pay to sit in an exit row? How about to not fly at all?


Sometimes the latter's not an option so you just have to shuffle through the line and take your assigned layer in the sardine tin.

For those times, Susan Stellin's article (accompanied by the graphic up top) in today's New York Times may offer at least the illusion of a degree of control over your misery.

From the story: "That is the gamble with the new seat shuffle: a better (free) seat might open up during check-in or at the airport, especially if the plane is full and airlines have to release their premium seats to give everyone a seat on the plane."

"How that process works is a bit murky, and many of the details of these seat policies seem to be closely guarded secrets. Spirit Airlines does not even inform customers until after they have bought a ticket that there will be an additional fee to choose a seat, while representatives from Continental and US Airways refused to reveal the range of seat fees they charge."

"Knowing that I wasn’t going to be near a computer before a recent Southwest flight, I paid for the Early Bird Check-in and ended up being among the first 10 people to board the plane. As it turned out, the flight was half empty, but I didn’t regret spending the extra money."

I don't get it: Why would you want to be on a plane a yoctosecond longer than necessary, crammed into your uncomfortable seat, some kid banging on its back and/or screaming, breathing foul air and having everyone who boards after you stumbling into you with their luggage as they make their way down the aisle?

May 9, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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My husband once took a course given by Continental Airlines where the instructor simulated evacuating a plane that had crash landed. In the simulation, he learned that your odds of survival decrease exponentially for every row that you find yourself further away from the exits (that is supposing that the plane has not broken apart). Ever since then, I have always placed my family and myself as close to the nearest exit as I can. Also, I always choose aisle seats for both of us as parents because, you guessed it, the further in you are on an inside seat, the worse you fare when trying to evacuate a plane. Two days ago, I bought a ticket from Houston to Denver via Continental Airlines (my preferred choice for travel) and was shocked to discover that the privilege of increasing my survival chances would now cost me an EXTRA $49 dollars per trip. Though fuming, I ponied up the $98 dollars thinking all the time that perhaps I had just better leave my wallet out of it and take my chances.

Posted by: Milena | May 10, 2010 11:43:11 AM

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