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Publication: Travel Tips
Coach Section Survival

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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

Jan. 8, 2008 

In this week's issue:   




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Now that we've made that clear, here are the tips:   

* Find the most comfortable seat   

Not all coach seats are created equal.   

The most comfortable of the uncomfortable are usually found 
in the exit row. Because folks need room to flee in case of 
an emergency, it often has more legroom than a first-class 
or business-class seat. There's also no chance that it will 
come with a screaming child, since anyone who sits there 
has to be able to assist others if something major goes 

Another good coach perch, if your goal is leg room, is the 
bulkhead seat in economy class. That's the one just before 
the line separating economy from first. If you can't get 
that, try to get something in the front section of economy 
class. There's less engine noise and I know people who 
swear the flight attendants tend to be more attentive 

The worst seats are in the very back of the plane. That's 
normally where the galley is. And the restrooms. There's 
lots of noise from the engines, as well as from small 
children and students flying to or from college break. 
Airlines, when given a choice, tend to put potential   
noisemakers like vacationing families or fraternity 
brothers there. Sometimes, as travel writer Chris Elliot 
points out on his website (http://www.elliott.org), it 
where they put the cuffed, minimum-security convicts. 

So, how do you figure out what the choice seats are and 
which ones are open?   

You can always go with one of the Websites that specialize 
in this sort of thing. The best one I've found is Seat Guru 

Of course, your airline's own Web site is often the best   
resource for finding a good seat. They tend to have the 
most up-to-date seat maps of their planes. If you have 
questions, you can always call the airline and ask someone 
there which seats are the most comfortable. If they’ve got 
room, that person will probably give you a good steer. 


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* Dare to move   

If you didn't do homework before picking a seat, or if 
there wasn't anything but miserable seating available 
when you originally booked, that doesn't mean you're 
condemned for the duration of your flight.   

When you reserve one of these seats, get to the airport 
early and then ask a ticket agent if there's any 
availability in an exit row or near the bulkhead. If 
something has opened up since you book, they'll probably 
accommodate you. But you've got to make the request. 

If, for some reason, you are stuck in the back, don't 
worry. The game's not yet over. Once the cabin door closes, 
you an move around within coach class. Even if all the 
choice seats are taken, this gives you an opportunity to 
get away from that guy with the hacking, spittle-filled 
cough, or the nervous little-old lady who's already made 
it clear she plans to talk with you the entire flight, no 
matter how much work you say you have to get done. 

As you're maneuvering, pay attention to the instructions of 
your flight attendants. If the "fasten seatbelts" sign is 
lit, freeze until you're cleared to move about the cabin. 

If it’s not a crowded flight, you may even be able to talk 
your way into the business-class seating or - the holy 
grail of all regular coach travelers - the first-class 

Elliot advises folks not to actually ask permission for 
a move like this. Asking for an upgrade almost always 
results in a curt "no", he writes. Instead, ask if there 
is another seat that you can be moved to, and explain your 
problem. Even if you know that your section is completely 
full, a kind-hearted flight attendant could quietly upgrade 
your seating if he or she felt it was an act of kindness. 

* Discourage leaners   

Most passengers who lean all the way back don't even 
realize that they're invading your personal space. 

But they are.   

The best way to handle it is through diplomacy. Politely 
let the guy in front of you that having his comb-over in
your lap is making you a bit uncomfortable. Most folks 
respond well to this, and the negotiations begin - (How's 
this? Could you move it a little more? How about this? That 
will work. Thanks) As with any negotiation, don't be a jerk 
and insist that your fellow traveler can't lean back at all. 

Unless, of course, you want to be a jerk. Some frequent 
flyers dispense with the hole accommodation model and 
simply lower their tray table, fold the airline magazine 
up and wedge it between the tray table and seat.   

There's even an anti-leaner weapon called the Knee Defender 
that works the same way. I've written about it before, and 
it does a pretty good job keeping the person in front of 
you from reclining. You'll get some rest during the flight, 
but I, for one, would have trouble sleeping at night. 

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* Plan to sleep 

The best way to deal with an uncomfortable flight is to be 
unconscious for most of it. That's probably going to take 
some paraphernalia. 

Earplugs or - better yet - noise-cancellation headphones, 
are probably a minimum requirement. You might also want an 
inflatable neck pillow, comfortable travel clothes and an 
eye mask. 

You can also drug yourself. I don't generally choose this 
option, but many travelers swear by prescription sleeping 
pills like Ambien. Others prefer low doses of a more 
traditional tranquilizer, like Valium. 

* Bring hand sanitizer   

There's a little bit of Monk in all of us. 

How can you get comfortable if your trapped in a flying 
metal tube surrounded by sneezing, wheezing strangers? 

Little bottles of hand-sanitizer (keep in mind the TSA's 
anti-terrorism rules for carry-on fluids when picking the 
size of the container) will not only help protect you from 
infection but, more importantly, give you some peace of 

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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