Northwest to Charge an Arm for Legroom

Northwest Airlines is rolling out a program to charge a bit more for extra stretch space.

The airline plans on giving travellers the option to pay $15 more and upgrade to an aisle or emergency exit seat. Such a seat can offer up to ten inches extra. Only about 5% of the seats on the domestic flights will go up for sale in this manner as the airline gauges consumer response.

If the program is a success, we could see other airlines following suit and then everyone can eat a $5 bag of pretzels in a $15 exit row chair while sipping a $6 can of Pepsi and enduring the joy of $2 customer service.

What happens when the flight is so booked you’ve got a guy who just paid 15 bucks to upsize sitting across the aisle from a guy who’s sitting pretty at the standard fare? Hilarity? Anger? Sadness? Fear? Delusions of Grandeur?

Northwest Bets You’ll Pay for Legroom [via Detroit Free Press] (Thanks to Clampants!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mand0 says:

    They bet wrong.

  2. Gari N. Corp says:

    Virgin have charged an extra 50 pounds for exit row seats for quite a while. It’s one of the few out-and-out sucky stunts they pull. I did it in a flash then, and I’ll do it every time I go to Detroit too.

  3. CTSLICK says:

    Boy this puts an all new spin on the “we listen to our customers”. Apparently the full phrase is “we listen to our customers to figure out all new ways to nickel and dime them to death”. I can appreciate that airlines must find ways to improve revenue but I just think all of these oh-by-the-way fees and ala-carte for everything but the air you breath programs are ultimately going to piss off customers…more. Just do the right thing, increase your fares to where they need to be and for God’s sake invest in some programs that will inject some sort of satisfaction in flying again!

  4. BenM says:

    Do I get the 50 dollar discount for being stuck near the bathrooms?

  5. Big Red says:

    What will happen? Exactly nothing. This is nearly identical to two people who have paid a different fare sitting next to each other, which happens all the time. It is the airline industry’s way of segmenting their market, and frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Both my girlfriend and I are over six feet tall and it drives us nuts when there is some shrimp sitting in the exit row. This way, the exit row will be available for those who want to pay for it, rather than whichever schmuck happened to request it first. It’s a scarce resource, and here, I think the invisible hand will do a great job distributing it.

  6. Montecore says:

    I see no problem in letting the invisible hand of the free market work its way into airline seating. Consumers have the option of flying on a different carrier that doesn’t charge for emergency exit seats.

  7. Paul D says:

    Consumers have the option of flying on a different carrier that doesn’t charge for emergency exit seats.

    Would that this were true, but sadly it is not neccessarily so.

  8. billhelm says:

    I’ll pay for this every time…

  9. Clare says:

    Ditto me. Best $15 I will ever spend.

  10. Gari N. Corp says:

    That all said, the fact that airlines expect that people located in the exit seat be able-bodied and able to assist in the event of a emergency does complicate matters. I’d always thought that that was an adequate trade-off, an exit seat for the possibility of having to wrench the door off in the event of a crash-landing, and hope that I’d have done my bit if it happened. Still, I’m sure we could ask for our $15 back if it ever came to that.

  11. B Borrman says:

    United does this for Economy+. I pay the fee every time. I think it’s a great idea frankly. I’m 6’5″ and will happily shell out a little extra to guarantee I have some room.

    It seems odd that so many have a problem with this. Really, isn’t it better than being left to the whim of a gate agent?

  12. trixare4kids says:

    Disadvantages to being short (5’2″ in my case): can’t see at the concert; can’t see at the movie theatre unless there’s stadium seating; definitely cannot reach anything on the 2nd shelf in the kitchen without a step ladder; often can’t reach things in the grocery store, mirrors are often too high, as are peep holes in doors; chairs are often too high or have a seat pan that is too long to sit back in comfortably; can’t buy off the rack and have to hem everything from pants to dresses (“petites” often start at 5’3″) Advantage: We are the only ones who are comfortable in airline seats. I’ll take what I can get.

  13. The_Truth says:

    Ill pay the extraif I can get the girl in the pic along with my aisle seat :-)