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Insta-CoGo: JetBlue to Offer Extra Leg Room -- for a Fee

Cindy Loose

JetBlue boasts of providing the most leg room in coach than any other airline -- 34 inches from the edge of a seat to the back of the seat in the next row. That won't change, but as of April 1, fliers will have the option of buying an extra four inches.

The airline is reconfiguring its Airbus A320 fleet so that rows 2 to 5 and exit rows 10 and 11 will provide 38 inches of "pitch" instead of 34. Of course, it's not free: It'll cost $10 each way on a short haul flight (D.C. to Boston, for example), $15 on medium haul (Florida) and $20 on a transcontinental flight. The extra space is also available on the airline's Embraer E190 aircraft, but only in the emergency exit row.

Whether you'd pay up to $5 an inch for something of course depends on what's getting bigger. An inch of space in your house, probably not. To take an inch off your nose -- if it's really big, probably be worth considering. But is an inch of leg space on a plane worth that?

As of right now you can book the extra legroom for any flight as of April 1 online or by calling 800-JET-BLUE. Later this year you can pay to upgrade pitch at airport counters and kiosks.

I predict there will be lots of grumbling, but while I probably won't pay extra, I have no problem with it. Nor do I have a problem with paying extra for extra luggage, as some airlines are requiring, or for food. I want the lowest fare that's possible and still be in a safe plane. Then I can decide if I want the extras.

Disagree?

(To take a look at last Sunday's Coming & Going column -- or CoGo -- here's the link.)

By Cindy Loose |  March 19, 2008; 12:21 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Cindy Loose , Insta-CoGo
Previous: Insta-Q&A: Rooms in Paris for La Famille | Next: Insta-CoGo: Clear Security Lanes Debut at DCA

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I think it is a wonderful marketing idea. Although I would not purchase it, I know my husband would in a heartbeat. Comparatively that is only the cost of a meal at an airport.

Posted by: Barbara | March 19, 2008 12:35 PM

I would purchase this in a HEARTBEAT! $20 coast-to-coast for 38" pitch? I gladly pay $29-50 on United for Economy Plus, so this seems very reasonable.

Posted by: Lester Burnham | March 19, 2008 1:09 PM

I ran into this yesterday, when I booked on Jet Blue to go to Phoenix in May. I declined, as I am short and not uncomfortable in the 34-inch seats, but I was taken aback by the charge. I understand why they did it, but unless you go looking for the info, it's not mentioned anywhere on the site prior to the "Pick Your Seats" page, which comes up well into the booking process.

Does anybody know how they're making up the room? Previously their planes had 36" in the front rows and 34 in back, and as far as I can see they haven't taken out any rows.

Posted by: BxNY | March 19, 2008 1:40 PM

Don't tell JetBlue, but I'd probably pay twice that for the added comfort.

Posted by: mccxxiii | March 19, 2008 1:58 PM

Cindy, you must not have long legs. I would pay the extra $20 each way without hesitation.

I have problems with my joints - some days are better than others. To know that I'm not going to create a "worse" day would be absolutely fabulous.

Of course, it would be more fabulous if airlines put more leg room in in general. But if wishes were horses, we could all ride carriages with lots of horses on the reins cross-country instead of fly...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 19, 2008 2:13 PM

Dear Chasmosaur---Come to think of it I'm only cheap in advance. Now if they offered that I could move to a bigger seat after I've been on the plane awhile and am feeling cramped, I'd probably pay $100. In fact, that might be something they could add to the line-up: In advance in long haul pay $20, and if you decide after an hour on the plane that you want the extra room, it's $200.

I always look forward to trips, including trips that come necessarily with long plane rides, but sometime during or just after the flight I always announce to whomever I'm with that I will NEVER take a long plane ride ever ever again.

Posted by: cindy loose | March 19, 2008 3:55 PM

Dear Chasmosaur---Come to think of it I'm only cheap in advance. Now if they offered that I could move to a bigger seat after I've been on the plane awhile and am feeling cramped, I'd probably pay $100. In fact, that might be something they could add to the line-up: In advance in long haul pay $20, and if you decide after an hour on the plane that you want the extra room, it's $200.

I always look forward to trips, including trips that come necessarily with long plane rides, but sometime during or just after the flight I always announce to whomever I'm with that I will NEVER take a long plane ride ever ever again.

Posted by: cindy loose | March 19, 2008 3:55 PM

On United, I absolutely pay the extra money to sit in economy plus - 31" of pitch is barbaric.

However, it seems that 34" is around my comfort zone, so unless it was a transcon I probably would forgo it.

Posted by: Liz | March 19, 2008 3:58 PM

I purchased my ticket on JetBlue several months ago for an DC-Los Angeles (LGB) flight, in the front seats that had more legroom (free, then) for April and June. Any idea what will happen to me when I arrive at the airport? Will I find my seats switched? Be asked to pay a supplment or be moved? Or go in the seats that I booked at the price I booked?

Posted by: Rick | March 19, 2008 5:38 PM

Rick,
First, thank you for flying JetBlue!
For your flights in April and June, you have the option to select an Even More Legroom seat for the additional $20 each leg (since you're on a long flight, it's $20). If you prefer, you can select one of our Lots of Legroom seats without fee - they offer 34 inches of legroom.
You can change your seat assignment online at https://www.jetblue.com/manageflights/changeseats/seat.aspx
or call us at 800-JETBLUE (800-538-2583).
Thanks!
Jenny
JetBlue Crewmember

Posted by: Jenny Dervin | March 23, 2008 1:34 PM

I don't see why I have to pay extra just to be reasnably comfortable!

Being tall, my knees are touching the seatback in front of me. No room to move the legs at all.
I am not asking for 'Luxury' only a decent standard of comfort!

Posted by: George | March 31, 2008 9:51 PM

I just noticed it when booking my flight today to JFK so for a transcontinental flight, $50 for extra legroom seems fine to me and worth it for a flight that long. It's not that big of a deal, and the exit rows have been my seat of choice over my 5 years on the airline. So the people got smart and are taking those seats and they're the first to be filled in a new flight. In other words... People using seatguru.com for my comfy chair on 10D - boooooo :(

But then I noticed when using JetBlue's reward points for free flights, You're not getting direct flights anymore. I had to book a flight with layovers to Austin and Vegas from Long Beach to JFK. boooo =(

I kid about the people part but $20 for an extra space. That seems more reasonable than other airlines charging you more than $20 for a bag of chips, food and water and you can't bring your own food on those airlines *skybus*. At least JetBlue gives you those for free.

Sounds like money well spent to me.

Posted by: Al | April 1, 2008 3:09 AM

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