Best Airline Seats For Tall People – Ask Alex – Travel Question Wednesdays

Ask Alex - Travel Question Q and A every Wednesday

This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.

This week’s travel question is from James K. he asks,

Q. “I believe I read that you are fairly tall. As a tall person where is the best place to sit on an Airplane?

A. – You’re correct! I’m right around 193 cm or just under 6’4″ depending on the mode of measurement you want to use.  This means that I JUST fit in most airline seats.  It also means that I have a deep seated hatred for people who press the recline button and then throw their weight against the seat back without warning to recline as quickly as humanly possible.  I’m not sure the exact thinking but I assume it is tied to the old “If I do it quick, maybe they won’t notice” line of thinking.  Given my knees are usually flush against the back of the seat in front of me, and align perfectly with the tray arms I do notice.  Every time.  Painfully.  As a result it’s not uncommon for me to finish a flight with lightly bruised knees.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar boat then you will have likely heard that the exit row seating or bulkhead row seating is the best place to sit. In general the common narrative when discussing airline seating seems to be that these are the best seats on the plane.  For years I fell into this school of thought and sought them out.  No longer.

Unless you absolutely require exit row seating avoid it.  It sucks. If you’re tall, but still short enough to fit into the standard seat I suggest opting for an aisle and bypassing the exit row land rush all together.  Why?

  1. Most tall men (and women) seek out the exit row.  Tall people tend not to be bone-thin.  If you get unlucky (as I often did) you’ll find yourself sandwiched into tiny seats next to two other large men who can’t help but sprawl. While you may have picked up an inch or two of added knee room you’ve lost it in shoulder and leg room.  Few things make a multi-hour flight less enjoyable than role-playing a sardine in a sardine tin for 8 hours straight.  It’s also worth noting that these seats are desirable for people who tend to be slightly heavier as well, as it makes getting in and out of the inner seats significantly easier.
  2. You have to stow all of your carry on items. While a fairly minor annoyance the requirement that bulkhead/exit row seats require all luggage be stowed in the overhead during takeoff and landing can be fairly annoying. Especially if flying in/out of an airport with sub-par weather and regular post-boarding flight delays.  As baggage fees increase the lack of overhead space can also be a huge pain.
  3. The seats don’t recline.  While some bulkhead seats recline most exit row seating is locked in the upright position.  In many cases I find that this can be more uncomfortable than tight leg room over long haul flights.  While this may be redundant for many tall travelers, keep in mind that most airline seats are designed to offer back and neck support.  Unfortunately, the molding for these types of seats tends to be for  at maximum a 6’1″-6’2″ build.  I often leave long flights and bus rides with sore shoulders because of the way the seats push my upper body forward with the upper back cradle hitting mid-shoulder blade instead of higher as intended.
  4. It’s probably more expensive.  Responding to demand and eager to make a quick buck a lot of airlines have started charging extra for exit and bulkhead seating.  In addition to being a questionable practice for a variety of different reasons, it’s just not worth the extra money.

Keep in mind that different airlines and different aircraft have vastly different configurations.  Sites like Seat Guru (http://www.seatguru.com) have done a great job providing high quality research tools which you can use in preparation for your next flight.   Best of luck, and have a safe (and enjoyable) flight!

Would you like me to elaborate on an aspect of this response?  Let me know!

Have a question of your own? ASK IT! Want to see previous questions? click here.

Thank you to Budget Car Hire for helping make this post possible.

How To Meet People While Travelling – Ask Alex – Travel Question Wednesdays

Ask Alex - Travel Question Q and A every Wednesday

This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.

This week’s travel question is from Eldina J. she asks,

Q. “What’s the best way to meet people while traveling without being creepy?

A. –  I operate with a basic general assumption in place.  If I’m sitting somewhere feeling lonely, by myself, or really wishing someone would start a conversation with me – then other people who look to be in a similar situation are probably having similar thoughts.   This may not always hold true, but I find that in most situations it tends to be fairly spot on.  It is amazing how often two people will sit near each other, both hoping the other person will strike up a conversation but feeling too concerned that they might impose, to be the initiator.  On the flip side…don’t be the Italian guy from the train in Eurotrip.  We can usually tell when people are open to being approached/talked to, it’s just a matter of paying attention and overcoming our own personal and cultural inhibitions.

Remember – you’re a traveler!  Travel is all about amazing stories and cool people.  Travelers are usually social and always have a story to share!

But, that begs the question – how to do it?  It is often as simple as saying hello.  If you’re on your own it is typically easiest to approach other solo travelers or travelers relaxing by themselves.  However, don’t let that stop you from reaching out to people, especially if you’re in a hostel!  Hostels are built specifically to help solo and independent travelers meet and connect while on the road.  But don’t stop there!  Once you have made contact with another traveler (or if you’re traveling with a friend) be inclusive! When you see a lone traveler or small group say hello and invite them to join!   Remember – people WANT to be included.  They just may feel awkward or bad about imposing.  When inviting people to join, I find it is usually best to make more concrete invitations.  Instead of, “you’re welcome to come join us if you would like” shorten it up and get to the point, “Come join us!  Here, pull up a seat!”  As subtle as the difference is I find it often makes a large difference in how people respond.  In one they feel like they might be imposing or that the invitation has been offered out of politeness.  In the second it is much more inclusive and feels more welcoming. Don’t worry they can still say no if they’re busy or have other plans.

If you’re not doing hostels, and don’t feel like striking up random conversations in parks, restaurants, museums and on public transport Couchsurfing.org is the next best option.   To be clear, while billed as a free bed exchange, that’s not what Couchsurfing is really about.  It is about community and connecting with other amazing, well- traveled, wonderful people.  When you are preparing to visit a town set up a profile, join groups connected to that town, and then search for people who are willing to meet up for a cup of coffee or a beer.  You’ll be able to do a bit of research and background on the person to make sure it will be a safe situation, and then you can dive in.  Most major couchsurfing communities also have weekly gatherings which everyone is invited to.

Good luck and happy (social!) travels!

Would you like me to elaborate on an aspect of this response? Let me know!

Have a question of your own? ASK IT! Want to see previous questions? click here.