How to get the best seat on the plane

Marketplace Staff Oct 20, 2006

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: First the good news: Gas prices are still pretty low. The bad news? Well all that money you’re saving, it just might be going to the airlines. Holiday travel season is right around the corner but before you book your ticket and suffer through the pain of economy class one more time, we might have a solution. Matt Daimler is the founder of the website seatguru.com. Hey Matt what’s the best way to get a primo seat nowadays?

MATT DAIMLER: These days they’ll allow you to actually view the seats that are available before you book your flight. So that can give you a picture of what seats are left and you can kind of get an idea. If you’re deciding between two different flights maybe one of them is half full and has a lot of good seats left and that might be a way for you to get a better seat before you book. And then after you book you can use the online check-in. Additional seats become available 24 hours in advance and that’s a great way to get good seats. And then even at the gate as they process upgrades, often they’re leaving behind good seats and that’s another time in which you can get a better seat or be upgraded to, you know, something a little more comfortable.

RYSSDAL: Where do you find usually the worst seats in a plane? Is it always the ones in the back by the bathroom?

DAIMLER: It often is, but you know one of the funny things about running this website is that we hear from a lot of people and someone else would say about that back of the plane next to the bathrooms they’d say it’s great. I know exactly when the line was small and I don’t have to wait in line. When the line to the bathrooms is short that’s when I’m able to get right out of my seat and get right in line.

RYSSDAL: Do the major carriers really differ that much in, you know, the quality of an economy seat?

DAIMLER: The major difference that we’re seeing today is in some of what I would call the value carriers like a Jet Blue. They’re really focusing on comfort and passenger amenities. Of course they have the video screens that have 21 channels of television. You’d be amazed on a five-hour flight you can get sucked in to a few programs and all of the sudden the flight’s over. You know, that’s a lot more comfortable than other flights out there.

RYSSDAL: When you fly what do you look for?

DAIMLER: I’m always looking for leg room and it’s quite literally the difference between being able to open your laptop screen only three-quarters of the way versus having it at a comfortable viewing angle. And for me that one to two inches also mean maybe I can sort of cross my legs or angle my legs a little bit better under the seat in front of me. And so I really know what one to two inches is and I’ll look for the carriers or the airlines that have 32, 33, 34 inches of leg room. And we have a feature on our website called comparison charts and that allows you to actually see all the different carriers and their planes and who’s got the most leg room and things like that.

RYSSDAL: Matt Daimler is the founder and CEO of seatguru.com. Matt thanks a lot for your time.

DAIMLER: Terrific. Thank you.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.