Thursday, August 20, 2015
Surviving Travel in Coach
I almost always travel coach, also known as cattle class. On very rare occasions, I have ridden up front, when the at the gate upgrade was cheap and I was feeling privileged, or when the airline needed to shift 250 pounds to the front of the plane, or when they owed me a big apology for really screwing up. But I generally opt for the cheap seats in the back of the bus. Even on frequent flyer miles, I'd sooner take two trips in coach then one in business class.
So my tips for surviving in coach. Don't try to carry on everything you need for the trip. I generally only carry on one small messenger bag. Stuffing maximum sized roll aboard bags into the bins, or even worse finding that they won't fit and having to check them after you have boarded is a bad way to start the flight. I always try to get my bag in the overhead bins. There is precious little leg and foot room and stuffing your carry on under the seat in front of you, fills the foot room. I kicked someone's purse out into the aisle on the way to Chicago that was in the way of my feet. She didn't seem to understand that her under seat storage was in the way of her feet, not mine. It helps to have short legs, my 30-31 inch inseam fits well. I have figured out why airline magazines list the top orthopedic surgeons, it is a hint for the traveling public with more than a 34 inch inseam. Shorter legs would help. I always try to book early and I always try to select my seat. The farther forward the better, I avoid the rows immediately in front of the exit rows, on some planes those seats don't recline. Most airlines charge extra for exit row seats, and I don't believe in paying extra, and most of what you get is leg room and I have short legs. I prefer an aisle seat, on the left side of the plane. I can lean out into the aisle, but I can't lean out the window. Being on that side and being right handed, my most active arm is out in the aisle and not in the face of the person stuffed in the middle seat. Jay and I are large people, when we travel together we sit across the aisle or in front and behind of one another rather then side by side. Shoulder and hip room are an issue when we sit side by side. I avoid seats in the back and near the toilets. Most airlines put families with babies in the back - I hate babies, and the toilets can smell, and people stand in the aisle and annoy me. I carry ear plugs and know how to use them, I carry something to read. I use the toilet before I board and try to avoid that discomfort in coach unless I am on a very-very-very long flight. On long flights i carry a couple of the round pillows and an eye mask for sleep - or simply to shut out the world.