Would you fly more frequently if airplane seats were more comfortable? Some ideas on how to make airplane seats in economy class more comfortable. Share yours, and vote in our poll to show if you would fly more if airlines installed better seats. Budget Travel Thursday, Mar 3, 2011, 11:50 AM Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Seat (Courtesy Augapfel/Flickr) Budget Travel LLC, 2016

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mar 03 2011

Would you fly more frequently if airplane seats were more comfortable?

Airplane seats in economy class can be truly awful. Schlepping your wheelie toward your coach class seat can be depressing. On domestic routes, the average seat has a legroom of 30 inches, which isn't much if you have long legs, and an average width of 16.5 to 18 inches, which is tight.

Airplane design could be a heck of a lot better than it is. Continental (soon to be United), to its credit, has some "Spectrum Seats" on its newer 757s where your knees don't necessarily have to dig into the seat in front of you.

What are some possible fixes to create more room within the tight space of coach? Here are my thoughts. Feel free to share your own by posting a comment below.


Multi-position adjustable headrests: They add no weight to an aircraft but add a ton more comfort for passengers.

Seats that recline an extravagant 45 degrees. (Though not all of our readers would agree that this is a good idea.)

Backrests more aptly sculpted to the body, with adjustable back cushions.

Staggering the seats in rows of three, which could allow an inside-seat passenger clearer entry to the aisles.

Rows of three economy-class seats that can be folded out, Ikea-style, to become lie-flat seats for long-distance flights that aren't fully booked.

Chairs that can be reconfigured to different facing positions pre-flight for families or business travelers who want to be together.

Dimmer switches for the lights. And don't forget power outlets at every seat.

In the meantime, how to find the best seats in the sky?

Try this: When you book your next plane ticket online, click to the aircraft's seat map diagram and compare it with the matching seat maps on both SeatGuru and SeatExpert, whose user reviews point out which seats are best.

For example, you may discover fun facts, like that 767s almost always have only one middle seat per row—far less than on any other two-aisle aircraft. Plus, there's generally more legroom on JetBlue and United—at a price.

Aisle seats near the front of the plane often free up shortly before departure because the elite-level or full-fare passengers who had been assigned to them are upgraded at the last-minute. So it doesn't hurt when you check in at the gate to request a new seat assignment.

PLEASE VOTE IN OUR POLL. Budget Travel editors will use the results to decide if we should cover this topic further. As always, thanks for all the work you do as an evangelist for travel.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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