More Room in Airline Coach?

Diminished capacity has led to packed planes, leaving coach passengers with little or no room to get comfortable. If you want to avoid a first class upgrade, the second seat option may be for you.

As if endless security check lines aren’t bad enough, airlines are trying to trim costs by cutting back on the number of flights. As a result, the remaining flights are often packed to capacity, leaving coach passengers with little or no room to get comfortable.

The alternative used to be to pay for a pricey business class or first class ticket, but now many airlines will sell you an extra seat for the same price as your first ticket, which gives you more room at big savings. According to airline executives, the second-seat option is not used often, but is growing in popularity, especially on overseas flights.

Airlines that sell “second seats” include Continental, Delta, American, United, and US Airways, along with the economy airline jetBlue. Most of them require you to make your reservation over the phone, which means you’ll pay an extra reservation fee. Even with the extra fees and the cost of the second seat, however, you’ll pay a fraction of what a business-class or first-class ticket would cost.

Another lower-cost alternative to flying coach on international flights is the so-called “premium economy” class, which offers air passengers wider seats and more generous leg room. Airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Air France, and British Airways will sell you a premium economy ticket on flights from the US to Europe at a higher price, but one that’s still a lot less than business class or first class.

With some airlines, the extra fare may also get you onto premium-level security lines and give you access to early boarding. For more info on getting yourself into a comfortable airline seat, go to MyBusinessTravel.com.