When to Purchase Extra Legroom

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As airlines squeeze more passengers onto planes, many have begun offering extra legroom for an additional fee on some of their flights. The upgrades usually aren’t all that expensive, and in some cases they may be worth it. If you’re considering purchasing legroom on your next flight, keep the following in mind:

How much more space do you get?

The difference between the regular seats and the “extra legroom” seats can change a lot. Some airlines give you 4 extra inches for your money, while others offer up to 8 inches. The amount of legroom provided by a standard seat is worth considering as well. If you know you need 34 inches of legroom to feel comfortable, you may be surprised to find out that some airlines offer this as their standard size while others only give you 30 inches unless you buy the upgrade.

Can you swing an exit-row or bulkhead seat?

Seats in exit rows and bulkhead rows can offer up to 8 inches of extra legroom. Airlines used to offer those seats without any extra charges, but many now slap an upgrade fee on them. Still, the 8 inches you get in a bulkhead row may beat the 4 or 5 inches offered by an upgraded seat elsewhere, particularly when you consider that passengers in the bulkhead row don’t have to worry about anyone leaning their seats back in front of them.

Is the seat guaranteed?

Some airlines only sell a chance at being eligible to sit in a row with extra legroom, choosing to make seating determinations at check-in. Frequent flyers may receive preferential treatment on those airlines, so consider your chances of getting that extra room and whether it’s worth the fee to try for it.

Can you upgrade with miles?

Some airlines let you upgrade fares using frequent-flyer miles rather than cash. If you’ve saved your miles, you may even be able to bump your ticket all the way up to a business-class seat, which will beat the extra legroom option every time.

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