Standard economy seats continues to shrink, with today’s airline customers receiving a mere 30 or 31 inches of leg space on most US domestic flights. And not many travelers are willing to pay hundreds more for the luxuries of first class. Thankfully, new extra legroom options offer middle ground, including more space and reasonable prices. The key question I always consider: is it worth it?
The Cost for Comfort Cost increases for extra legroom depend largely on each customer’s airline, destination, and availability. Regardless of specific price, those who take a step up from standard economy can expect to pay a premium for the opportunity. A normal United Flight from New York to Denver: with standard economy seating, costs $135 each way. Extra legroom designation raises the tick et price another $100. American Airlines arguably offers the most affordable option (albeit accompanied by a mere 34 inches of leg space). Price increases start at just $20. Those on longer flights can expect to pay between $50 and $75 for the next tier up from standard economy, compared to several hundred in additional fees for some airlines. Jet Blue also offers this feature, called “Even More Space” . Their prices start at $65, and also get you thru the airport lines with a priority line.
Benefits of Extra Legroom Extra legroom perks vary significantly from one airline to the next. But with shrinking seats, even a few inches can deliver a more relaxing in-air experience, particularly for tall flyers. Not all airlines offer the same amount of space, so what appears to be Extra legroom on one airline may be just an inch or two more spacious than standard economy for another.United customers who opt for Extra legroom enjoy between 34 and 36 inches of leg space. This can make a huge difference in comfort during long flights, especially now that typical economy seats often only provide 30 or 31 inches of leg space. JetBlue offers one of the most impressive space expansions, with premium seats granting 38 inches of leg space. Delta customers beware, as the “comfort” in “Delta Comfort” may only refer to being towards the front of the plane with a dedicated overhead bin, and no extra leg room!
The Benefits to Being Upfront Extra legroom seats are located closer to the plane’s entrance and exit. This means less time spent on the plane after arriving at the intended destination. For some airlines (including Delta), Extra legroom customers enjoy priority seating before the flight.
More Perks Most airlines limit Extra legroom benefits to additional space and a spot near the front of the plane, all in the interest of controlling costs. Delta, however, offers an expanded range of perks for its Comfort+ flyers, who enjoy advanced boarding and exclusive overhead bin space. JetBlue’s Even More Space sometimes comes with Even More Speed, a dedicated VIP line at the airport.
Is It Worth It? Be careful when booking this perk. Delta calls their program “Delta Comfort” but the comfort often is just a seat further forward in the plane with dedicated overhead storage. Some flyers will invariably find the added Extra legroom fee worthwhile if it means increased leg space, guaranteed overhead storage, and better placement within the plane. For these individuals, Extra legroom provides a valuable middle ground between the cramped quarters of typical economy seating and the significant cost increase of premium cabins. Others are willing to put up with a bit less space in the interest of scoring a more affordable flight. For those who play their cards right, Extra legroom could mean superior comfort for a (sometimes) modest price increase.