American Airlines flight 1271 en route to Richmond, Virginia seat 21A…EXIT row. I love the exit row. I almost always fly in the exit row, for a couple of reasons, the obvious one of which being the extra legroom. Air travel for the common person can sometimes be less than comfortable; feeling somewhat of a sardine can be a typical description of what it is like on some flights. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not a necessarily tall guy and I have sat on flights where my legs actually touched the seat back in front of me. This can make traveling a bit of a turn off for those of us who aren’t professional athletes, celebrities or the well to do. To make matters worse, it seems that recently, airlines have been forced jam more and more seating on their aircraft to absorb ever-increasing fuel prices as to help keep air travel as affordable as possible. Meaning, the ever-so-lovely feeling of your knees in your chin and the “pins and needles” because you’re your feet are going numb will be even more frequent. Now, because of the increased seating in the aircraft, those Exit Row seats have become more of a demand. because of this new trend, they actually cost more than the regular seats, mostly only $10-20 more, although sometimes upwards of $50-$100. Here is a great chart of prices and rules from www.airfarewatchdog.com. I mean, I get it, supply and demand: the basis of our Capitalistic Economy, but come on, really? More times then not, I will actually spring the cash for the extra space, especially on longer flights. Though sometimes, I just can’t talk myself into spending the extra money for a silly comfort so I fly in the sardine cans with the rest of the mortals.
The second reason I love to fly the exit row is for that fraction of a percentage of a chance of (fingers crossed this doesn’t actually happen) an emergency debarkation of the plane. I would want to be the one responsible for getting everyone out safely. That thought though, isn’t due to some hero complex or anything like that; it’s just that I feel like I could handle that responsibility. I am not only, clearly physically capable of helping people out of the aircraft, young(ish), but more importantly, mentally ready due to military training and life experiences to be able to handle such situations. Oddly enough, I have actually had an experience with helping a pilot land a puddle jumper en route to Kingston, Jamaica in the late 90’s (I really should tell that story sometime). But, I digress.
A few years ago, I was flying over seas, Japan I believe, and because I had been increasingly busy leading up to my trip (I have a habit of getting my hands in all kinds of things) I ended up checking into my flight late. As I stand at the ticket counter I am informed that the only available seat was the in exit row. I’ll take it! It was so amazing. I had only previously to this time randomly sat in those amazing seats for shorter flights. This one however, was a 12 hour flight with ALL the legroom and I didn’t have to pay extra! I thought that I might be on to something. I felt like they either sell those seats last or they were only available because no one wanted to spring the extra money for them, on top of an already ridiculous airfare. So I did a little experiment. On my next flight from Malaysia I went up to the ticket counter upon check in and asked if any exit seats were available, and sure enough, there was. They happily switched my prior assigned stuffy, coffin seat to the luxurious “king size bed” of the economy cabin and it didn’t cost me anything! Not sure if I found a little loophole or not, but I have to say that I have done this a couple of times on a few different occasions. I probably shouldn’t be telling you my secrets but I figure no one is reading this anyway. Plus I hope that some of you try it and it works for you! Mind you, this trick doesn’t necessarily work every time. It works about 60% of the time, every time. If you are willing to pay the extra cash for a little more space to breathe then by all means go for it. However, if money is tight, or you are like me and on pure principle alone, don’t want to pay the airline any more than you already have, try asking at the gate. The worst that can happen is that they will say no. hope this helps, and comment below when you try it! So wheels up, safe travels and let’s get weird!