One of my pet peeves when flying is that I never seem to be able to get comfortable.  

Even though I’m only 5′ 3-1/2″ (when you’re short, that extra 1/2″ counts!), I feel cramped.  People with long legs must be miserable when they fly!

To solve this mystery and to help my tall friends, I did some research.  

Here’s what I discovered:

  1. The amount of legroom you get a plane varies from airline to airline.
  2. It also depends on the type/model of the plane.

AIRPLANE SEATING OPTIONS

How do you determine how much legroom you can expect on an upcoming flight?

Check the pitch of the seat.  The pitch is the distance from one row to the next.  You can check this on SeatGuru.com.The higher the seat pitch, the more legroom you’ll have. Seat pitch can vary greatly among airlines – even among aircraft types for the same airline.

For example, I prefer to fly Southwest Airlines whenever I can.  I like their prices, their Transfarency® (fee transparency), and their staff. The flight attendants are really fun and friendly. If you look on SeatGuru, you’ll see that Boeing 737-700 (737) has a seat pitch of 31″ while a Boeing 737-300 (733) Evolve has a seat pitch of 32″-33″.  That 1″-2″ difference can have a big effect on comfort. 

Choose your seat when booking your flight. Some airlines offer this option at no charge, some make you pay extra for this privilege. Regardless, before choosing your seat, you can research the type of plane and find out where the best seats are located.  ‘

This is also a great feature of SeatGuru.  

  • Choose the airline you’re flying and the type of plane.  
  • Click on the aircraft for a map of the plane (see the seating chart for the Boeing 737-300 (733) Evolve image example to the right)
  • Look on the Seat Map Key (below) for an explanation of what each color/symbol means

Seating Chart KeyRequest a seat in the front row or the emergency 

exit row.  Seats in exit rows don’t have seats in front of them, allowing for a lot more legroom.  

What you need to know before requesting or booking an emergency exit row seat:

  • If you take a seat in an exit row, you must be capable of and willing to help others exit the aircraft in case of an emergency landing.  This is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly.
  • Seats in an exit row do not recline.

Dress nicely and be polite to the ticket agent.  Sometimes, you may be able to get bumped up to first-class where legroom is not an issue. (Can’t promise it will happen, but it doesn’t hurt to try!) 

Do you have any tips for getting a seat with good legroom?
Share in the comments below ⇓

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