During the Renaissance period, it would often take a revolution to get the King’s attention. How sad must it have been for the poor peasant girl who traversed many miles across many lands to have her audience with the king, only to have the king ignore her pleas for justice and to hear him declare, “Bathe her… and bring her to ME!”
Such was the plight of the non-elite traveler before “Coach Choice” seating was born. Airlines used to reserve the seats nearest the nose of the aircraft for their elite fliers. Non-elite passengers would pay full fare for a ticket, only to discover that they couldn’t pick a seat closer than row 10 as those were reserved for elite passengers.
Well, the peasant passengers staged a full on revolution and the King of the airlines declared that those seats would indeed be made available to everyone, but the peasants would have to pay a premium for them (elite passengers would be exempt from payment of course). Thus, “Coach Choice” seating was born.
Some passengers labor under the delusion that the seats up near the front are “better” in some way. Aside from the first class seats, they’re not. In fact in some cases, they’re worse! Take the Airbus A320 for example. Seat 10-C is an exit row aisle seat in the Coach Choice section, and a normal passenger would have to pay extra to get it. Seat 11-C meanwhile, is also an exit row aisle seat, but it is beyond the choice seating area so any passenger could simply choose to book it for free. What’s the difference between them? 10-C (the more expensive seat) does NOT recline (actually, any exit row that is in front of a second exit row, won’t recline). So… Both seats have the same leg-room, width, etc, but you would pay extra for a seat that won’t recline. Also, 10-A (the Coach Choice window seat) only has 1/2 the padding and 3/4th the width of a regular seat because it is on the exit row (be very cautious of exit row window seats).
Here’s a tip, 24 hours prior to departure, the rules change! Suddenly seats that weren’t available to you before; magically appear during this late hour scramble for seating.
The moral of this take is simple, use www.seatguru.com to book the best seat you can in your class, and if you really want a different seat, wait until exactly 24 hours prior to your departure time (use an Atomic clock if you have one, I’ve lost good seats because I was literally 23 seconds slower than someone who wanted the same seat).
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.