I have long legs and long arms and I love to look out the window when I fly. Whenever possible, I check the seat map for an upcoming flight to jockey for the best place to sit. Instead of printing my boarding pass the night before I will wait until I am at the airport and hit a self-service kiosk and check again for a good seat. I use seatguru.com to help assess the quality of various bulkhead and exit row seats.
Sometimes I fly Southwest Airlines, which doesn’t assign seats, so I will try to print my boarding pass as early as possible (24 hours before your first flight segment) so that I can board early and homefully score an exit row. When I can not board early or if the exit rows are taken, I may go for the bulkhead row. No tray tables but plenty of leg room, and you get off the plane quickly: best “middle seat” there is!
Unfortunately, a lot of people think it is “clever” to store stuff in the forward overhead bins, where I have to stash my bag when I am sitting in the front row. So, I drop my coat or my hat on my new seat and head back several rows to stow my bag. The danger here is that when we get off the plane I have to wait until the aisle is clear to swim upstream to fetch my bag. So, sometime before landing I sneak back, fetch my bag, and stash it safely beneath my knees. As we get near landing time, I drape my jacket over my knees and tuck my hands in to this “blanket” allowing the flight attendants to check the cabin without noticing my “un-stowed” bag. Once the plane lands I am one of the first on my way!
Recently I secured a bulkhead window seat in the same row as a gentleman sitting in the aisle seat, and some of the middle seat. I figured he’s a good guy to share a row with because people prefer not to sit wedged in next to a fat guy. Better yet, there was a card in the middle seat saying the seat was “reserved” . . . a reserved seat on Southwest?
The man explained that Southwest has an excellent policy for people of his stature. When he travels, he purchases two seats: one for Tim and another for Timothy. When he gets to the airport they exchange one of the tickets for a “reserved” placard and then let him pre-board. He boards the plane first, takes his bulkhead seat, lifts the armrest, places the “reserved seat” sign in the middle seat, then stretches his legs and watches everyone board. The best part is that unless the plane sells out, Southwest then refunds him the cost of the second seat! “Its as close to ‘first class’ as you can get, and even if I pay double its still cheaper than first class on another airline.”
I like the elegance and fairness of the solution: there’s no slippery slope of aspiring “fatties” trying to claim extra room from the airline’s profit margin, and the airline isn’t extorting extra revenue to accommodate oversize folk; A “reasonable accomodation” is achieved! For me, the bonus is having a mostly-empty middle seat to compensate for the missing tray table.
It reminded me of travelling with my sweetheart. If we sit together I can borrow extra room from her and she can snuggle against me. “Yeah, my wife is all of 125 lbs.” “Ha! My girlfriend is 4’11.” “Funny how that works out.” “Yup. I figure the kids will come out average.”