Airfare watchdog

What’s the cost of a roomier airplane seat?

Q: I know several airlines (United, Delta, for example) now have seats that cost more than economy, less than first or business class, but are roomier. What is an easy way to find out pricing on those seats?

In addition to United and Delta, American Airlines and JetBlue sell extra legroom economy class seats for an additional fee on both domestic and international flights, as do a number of foreign-based airlines (Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and many others). These seats aren’t usually any wider than standard seats on domestic U.S. airlines — they are somewhat wider on international airlines — but they do offer more legroom.

It’s not particularly easy to learn how much the extra legroom will cost you without actually attempting to book a seat on the airline’s own website. These extra legroom seats aren’t typically bookable on third-party sites such as Pricing depends on the route and flight. American clearly states a possible price range ($8 to $118 per flight) on its website.

In addition to these separate sections, exit-row seats offer considerably more legroom, but these seats are sometimes only available for advance booking to “elite” frequent flyers.

Several smaller airlines, such as Spirit and Airtran, offer cheap upgrades to business class seats.

VirginAmerica sells exit-row and bulkhead seats in advance for rather steep fees (“Main Cabin Select,” with six inches of extra legroom. These seats also include free food and drinks, a free checked bag, and priority check-in.

All JetBlue planes have more legroom than those on other domestic airlines.

George Hobica is founder of the low-airfare listing site

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