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The Merits Of Being Chatty
If you smile a little and chat with people you encounter, you find stuff out. I got to talking with the woman changing my seat at the Northwest counter, and found out that, in a couple of weeks, they'll be charging $15 for an exit-row seat. She thinks it's bad business, and so do I. If all the airlines don't do it, how many more customers will Northwest lose simply out of anger and annoyance at being nickel-and-dimed?

Then again, if people are averse to paying it, maybe it'll be easier to get an exit-row seat. Right now, instead of the policy of other airlines, where the first to the airport get the exit-row seats, they give them away to premium flyers.

Gregg thinks they should charge if you want to recline your seat in coach. I'm all for that. You should have to pay the person behind you $300, and whatever it costs to repair their cracked computer screen you bounced back on. For the record, I never recline my seat, as, under the currect conditions where you have about the same volume of space as in an open baby food jar, I consider it rude to the person behind me.

Posted by aalkon at March 13, 2006 6:36 AM

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I always recline my seat in flight -- and I usually unleash toxic fumes from my butt before I do it. It's the only way I can express my frustration about how uncomfortable I am. Misery loves company.

Posted by: Lena at March 13, 2006 11:42 AM

THANK YOU. I am so sick of being polite and leaving my seat up, while without fail, everyone in front of me decides that their seat back needs to be 3 inches away from my face. It's good to know I'm not the only person who considers it rude.

Posted by: may at March 13, 2006 2:42 PM

News flash, May: If you recline your seat as much as the person in front of you does, his/her seat back is no longer 3 inches from your face! Who knew?!

Posted by: Lena at March 13, 2006 7:04 PM

This moves your head back, but you've still got a tiny, cramped space in front of you on which to work or eat. I can't even put my laptop in my lap and work when people put their seats back on some coach flights, and I'm not exactly big and brawny. Pretty soon, they're going to have people checking their bodies below the waist to fit in coach. Oh, and don't even get me started with the people who bring on body bag-sized rollaboards and then tell you to put your computer bag under your seat with your purse and coat because they'll be needing the entire overhead. Um...nuh-uh!

A female passenger almost started a fight with me once over this. I had to argue to the flight attendant who was about to aggressively move my stuff, "Hey, I paid for this flight just like she did, and I'm taking this wee bit of overhead space for my computer, and I'm not going to cram it under my seat just because she brought a huge piece of luggage aboard."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 13, 2006 7:38 PM

Charging for the exit row is insane!

All right, I'll pay it. However, if there turns out to be an emergency, and some overweight old blind woman actually needs my help getting out, she's going to have to make it worth my while, and the passengers behind her aren't going to be patient if she wants to quibble over my rates.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2006 7:58 PM

Lena: I usually end up in the back of the plane. Luck or something, I'm sure. Anyway, either my seat is the one against the wall (and can't recline) or I'm the person who would be reclining into that row.

Besides, if I complained about that, and then reclined my seat, I'd be a hypocrite.

Posted by: may at March 13, 2006 8:21 PM

>>Don't even get me started with the people who bring on body bag-sized rollaboards

Oh, God, yes. How come every airline check-in post has a little box that says "your bag must fit inside this", but when you get to your seat, some bozo's making room in the overhead bin for a Jet-Ski?

And it's not just the size of the bags, but also the number of bags. I'm sick of watching soccer moms trying to cram their entire family's worth of suitcases into an overhead bin that ten other people need to use.

Jeezus people, check your freaking bags. Hell, I check my bags for the simple reason that they get manhandled and abused a lot less by baggage personnel than they do by rude passengers.

Posted by: Gary at March 13, 2006 8:48 PM

"Besides, if I complained about that, and then reclined my seat, I'd be a hypocrite."

If you recline your seat like the rest of us rude mortals, then you might actually complain less.

Posted by: Lena at March 13, 2006 9:41 PM

Who I feel bad for is really big people who have to fly. I don't mean those who are overweight, just big. I went to Ireland with a group of friends, one of whom is 6'8" and about 300+ pounds. Not fat at all, just Viking big. He didn't have the extra $3000 for business class, so there he was in one of those itty-bitty seats, trying only to squish his girlfriend, and of course the person in front of him had their seat back.

Maybe they should have at least a row of seats for people over a certain height or something. It took two days for my friend to walk normally after the flight.

Posted by: Kimberly at March 14, 2006 2:14 AM

Sorry for the double post. I got an error message the first time and it kicked me back to the post page.

Posted by: Kimberly at March 14, 2006 2:28 AM

Not a problem. But, did you get a 500 error, and has this happened before?

And my boyfriend, who's 6'4" and usually gets bumped up to first when he isn't with me, had the same problem when he gave me his bumped-up first class seat (awwww!) and took my coach seat. Some itsy bitsy woman sat in front of him and jammed her seat into his knees the whole way, not caring in the least.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 14, 2006 5:00 AM

PS And if you did get a 500 error, what browser were you using at the time?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 14, 2006 5:01 AM

I use IE ver. 6.0. I didn't get a 500 error. It looked site-specific. I think it said something like "couldn't read" text. I'm afraid it went by pretty quickly, so I'm not sure.

Posted by: Kimberly at March 14, 2006 5:24 AM

PS And no, it hasn't happened before.

Posted by: Kimberly at March 14, 2006 5:27 AM

I'd still have that fun tray-table problem that Amy mentioned above.

Posted by: may at March 14, 2006 7:12 AM

You know, I'm tall (6'1") and get annoyed by people reclining back into my knees, but I'm never surprised when it happens. Them's the breaks for flying economy. If I was that bugged by it, I'd stump up extra for biz class.(I do ask them to bring their seat forward during mealtimes, though, and have always been accommodated.) I no more have the right to type away on my laptop at the expense of someone else's rest and comfort than the person behind me has the right to type away at the expense of *my* rest and comfort.

Posted by: Jackie Danicki at March 14, 2006 9:00 AM

As a resident of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, where Northwest has a monopolistic stranglehold on air travel, the extra fee bit does not surprise me in the least. It would be wonderful if you could raise enough of a stink about this so they could finally, finally go out of business, but I doubt even the Advice Goddess is that powerful...

Posted by: Stephanie Highley at March 14, 2006 10:04 AM

I don't want to drive anyone out of business -- but I would like to motivate them to be smarter about the business they have.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 14, 2006 12:07 PM

> You know, I'm tall (6'1")

Wow! Who knew! Do you hang out with Megan McArdle?

Being a tiny little potato-man has few blessings, but one of them is that flying coach isn't that much less tolerable than business & first.

Posted by: Crid at March 14, 2006 7:41 PM

I don't think I have a *right* to make anyone refrain from reclining - but it would be really nice if they gave it some thought, and thought better of it. I don't want a McMansion, or a garage full of cars, but I'm hoping I soon make enough money to fly first class with ease and get first-class health care instead of Kaiser.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 14, 2006 8:12 PM

We're all fighting with each other because the airlines have crammed a few more rows of seats back there in steerage. Of course, that's the price we pay for flying cross-country and back on $200.

Posted by: Monica McGregor at March 14, 2006 9:48 PM

What Monica said - and as someone who frequently flies between the UK and the US, I appreciate any discount I can get, even if I land with full body muscle cramps.

Posted by: Jackie Danicki at March 15, 2006 9:08 AM

Not frequently enough!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 15, 2006 9:14 AM

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