How To Get Cheap Seats With Leg Room On Your Next Flight

You’re in the throws of imagination about the spectacular casino trip your are planning to take. You’ve already dusted off your suitcase. You picture yourself chilling by a pool or dining at a fine restaurant. Gentle background music plays while you sip your….SCREEEEEEEEEEEACH!

You begin to feel the sensation of both your legs falling fast asleep while you shuffle your feet around in the one inch square available, trying to figure out a place to put them as your tiny personal bag more than devours the space under the seat in front of you. You bend your toes backwards (wiggling them slightly to keep the circulation going) and balance one foot on top of the other in a position that you might be able to hold for an hour or so if you meditate real hard.

Then suddenly you realize, you still have your coat on! You don’t have to be a physics major to understand that with your limbs adjusted even slightly in the “take off your coat position”, there is no way your are going to do this without elbowing your co-passenger in the face.

Feeling claustrophobic yet? There are times one might dream of riding in the baggage area as a preference over their own seat on the flight that will be taking them to their wonderful vacation.

While most people absolutely dread this part of their trip, only a handful will fork out for first class, understandably, and only another handful will even pay the higher prices for a business class ticket which can also add a fairly large percentage more onto their ticket total.

The good new is, you can still get cheap seats on your flight that offer a lot of legroom. I call them the “will work for legroom seats”. If you are able and willing to commit to the responsibilities set forth by the Federal Aviation Regulations Sec. 121.585, you may pay a small fee to purchase an exit seat.

For example, I would have been able to pay $30 each way for my exit seats on my next round trip flight. So for $60, I may have been shoulder to shoulder with people but I would be able to extend my legs out as far as they will go. I would even be able to bend at the waist, extend my arms and fling my coat off over my head to the front of me. I might look ridiculous, but I could do that if I wanted to in the exit seats (If I was flying in order to make friends, I would be happy with one of the more cozy seating situations).

Now, back to the Federal Aviation Regulations Sec. 121.585. Here is the catch. Sitting in the exit seats comes with a list of potential duties should those emergency exits ever need to be used during your flight. We hope that never happens. Most likely it will not but people should take all agreements they make serious. Specifically one that would be so vital if by chance they were called on to hold up their end of the bargain. Not only do you need to be willing to do those duties, but you need to be physically, mentally and emotionally capable too.

Do you remember the footage of people exiting the plane that Captain Sully landed on the Hudson River? If you are too young, you may have at least watched the movie “Sully” with Tom Hanks who starred as Captain Sullenberger. 

If you were on a plane in that situation today, and you were sitting in an exit seat, you might be among those helping to open the side doors, activate and stabilizing the exit slide or any number of duties and basically facilitate the evacuation of the plane. To view this regulation and all of the requirements to occupy an exit seat in full detail, go to the government site and download it here.

There are some others things to think about when considering the exit seat option. One has to be older than 15 to sit in those seats so if you are travelling with any youngsters, or people who would not make the cut mentally, physically, emotionally, you shouldn’t attempt to secure these seats for your party. I have also heard that on some planes, those seats do not recline. Personally, I never recline in the crowded seats either because it always feels rude to consider practically laying in the lap of the stranger behind me.

I do remember the days when the flight was one of the most fun parts of the whole vacation! I know that is probably impossible to believe if you are under 30. You could actually stand sideways in front of your seat while you were waiting for the restroom or just to stretch your legs! People stood around all over in the plane chit-chatting. It seems people are more friendly when they are comfortable and have their own space to make them feel secure.

Back then there were people drinking and oh yeah…smoking. It still baffles me each time I fly to see the no-smoking sign still over the seats so many years after it has been banned. It’s not like those are connected to an integral part of the plane. They could just, not install them, couldn’t they? There used to be meals, and you didn’t mind having something to drink because you didn’t have to race anyone to the bathroom down an isle too skinny for a couple of ostrich legs. You could just stand in line! They would bring you hot towels to clean up with after your meal and they would push pillows and blankets and snacks on you. Before that party was even over you were rolling into your destination.

So after discussing this option here and mulling through the regulation rules a few times I have decided not to chose the exit seats for my next flight and I splurged on the “big front seats” as they call them for an extra $60 each way. I am sure I will choose the exit seat option for one of my trips but the front seats were just calling and calling me while I reminisced about the old days flying.

Next time you are planning your casino trip, remember that the flight is part of it all and if your flight is so dreadful that it ruins your mood and affects your good time, maybe it is worth a little more to actually enjoy it all, start to finish.