Let's face it, flying in economy especially on long-haul flights can be uncomfortable. The Professor even has a theory that airlines make it that way on purpose. Why would they do that? Well if flying economy was comfortable, why would anyone buy those high profit margin premium seats?
There are ways to make flying more comfortable. Let The Traveling Professor show you how to get the best seat on a flight.
Book Early: This is almost too obvious. The earlier you book, the more seats that will be available. However, some legacy airlines like American Airlines upgrade their best customers to business/first class 72, 48 or 24 hours in advance of departure time. This may leave some of the best seats in coach available at the last minute.
Buy the Middle Seat: 3-across seating is tough, especially if stuck in the middle seat. However, when flying with 2 people in a 3-across configuration, the middle seat can be purchased with money, or even better yet, with miles or points. Sitting in the aisle with a travel companion at the window, with an empty middle seat is a comfortable way to fly and is probably less expensive than buying a Premium Economy or Business/First class seat. That's right - it might be singificantly cheaper to buy three economy seats rather than purchasing two Premium Economy seats. Some travelers ask The Professor if it is even possible to buy a seat in order to leave it vacant. Musicians flying with expensive instruments have been doing this for years. However, if will probably take a phone call to the airline to purchase a seat that you plan to be unoccupied.
Sit Near the Front of the Plane: What a difference this makes on boarding and disembarking. This is strongly recommended when a connection is involved. Imagine the stress when sitting in row 34 when you need to get off a plane quickly to make a connection. It might be worth it to pay for the preferred seat location.
Exit Row: Almost all exit rows on flights have more legroom. It can cost more to book the exit row. Your kids probably can't sit in the exit row due to age restrictions. Flyers also need to agree to help in case of an emergency. All luggage including personal items need to be stored in overhead bins too.
Board Early: Having a good seat near the front doesn't mean much if carry-on luggage needs to be stored way back in the plane. Flyers want to board as early as possible to get the best overhead bin storage. Some airlines allow travelers to purchase preferred boarding and it is frequently a benefit provided by some low or no-fee travel credit cards.
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