Should Very Tall Passengers Be Forced To Pay For Seats With More Legroom?

I came across an interesting story about a New Zealand man on a recent Hong Kong Airlines flight. The 6 foot, 6 inch (1.98 metres) man, whose name is, would you believe it, Richard Mountain, was travelling on flight HX27 from Hong Kong to Auckland, which was operated by an Airbus A330-200.

The Otago Daily Times is reporting that he requested a seat with additional legroom at check in, noting his obvious but unique height. He says check in staff assured him he would be given such a seat, but when he boarded he realised he was allocated an ordinary economy seat at check in. SeatGuru says that this aircraft type has an economy pitch of between 30 and 32 inches, which is pretty standard for long haul economy seats.

Being the height he is, he’s not able to physically sit facing forwards in a seat. I can fully understand this — I am 1.82 metres in height so several inches shorter than ‘Mr. Mountain,’ and on low cost carriers with only 29 or 30 inches of pitch my knees are often jammed against the back of the seat in front of me. It’s really uncomfortable.

The passenger was forced to sit sideways, with both feet in the aisle. This was far from ideal, with crew members tripping over his feet several times during the boarding process.

As boarding was completed the crew said to him that the meal service with a large trolley down the narrow aisles would be impossible with his feet in the aisle, and he explained to them he wasn’t physically able to fit in the seat he was given. I thought this would have been pretty obvious given how much taller he would have been than the passengers around him.

There was a set of four exit row seats behind him that was empty, and Mr. Mountain asked the crew if he could move to one of those empty seats.

The crew agreed but demanded he pay an amount of NZ$100 (US$65) to do so, as these seats are usually sold at a premium to other economy passengers.

He explained what he had been assured at check in, and that he was always given a seat with more legroom because of his abnormal height, but the crew refused to waive the payment, so he paid up and the flight continued.

Bottom line

I can see both sides of this argument. Some Passengers Of Size will purchase an additional ‘comfort seat’ next to them in economy to allow themselves more room, if they are unable to fit into the width of a normal seat.

But height is challenging in a different way. These extra legroom seats were initially sometimes provided to extra tall passengers before airlines realised they could make more money charging anyone more to sit in them, regardless of their height.

I agree where a passenger cannot physically fit in a regular seat and there are spare seats with additional legroom, then that passenger should be allowed to take another seat, and should not be charged for doing so. It’s not their fault they are tall.

But if all the extra legroom seats had already been occupied by passengers who had already paid for the privilege, those passengers should not be moved just because someone taller than them could not fit into their seat, regardless of how tall each other passenger is. A 6’6″ passenger can’t insist that a, say 6’2″ passenger be moved, just because 6’6″ is taller. At time of booking and then check in it is first come, first served, just like bassinets.

Anyone over 6 feet is ‘tall’ in my opinion.

Mr. Mountain should have allocated an exit row seat as soon as he booked the flight, as he would have known he would be in agony in a normal seat. He shouldn’t have assumed there would be a seat available at check in, and it would be given to him free of charge. But Hong Kong Airlines, with unsold exit row seats and giant legs blocking service carts, also should not have charged the man once boarding was complete to solve both their problems.

Do you think passengers this tall should be charged for seats with additional legroom? Would you give up such a seat for a passenger who couldn’t physically fit into a regular seat?

Comments

  1. I don’t think he should have to pay, but I think he also could have been more proactive at the gate. Once given his boarding pass, he could have looked at SeatGuru and verified the seat given to him did have extra legroom. If it didn’t, he could have worked out the issue with the gate agent.

    As a 5’1” tall woman, I can’t relate to the legroom issue, but I’m sure it would be quite uncomfortable!

  2. To be fair… Yes, the price or ticket he paid was for a 30-32″ and he knew that. Everybody pays for more leg room, he knew that and he needed that but he didn’t want to pay. I am surprised that they even let him board the airplane.

  3. Totally different issues. Being a fatty is most of the time a lifestyle choice (in rare cases medical).
    You cant choose how tall you grow, and there is nothing you can do to lose height.

  4. I agree with James. A reasonable person, if he’s extra-tall, would know what problems might arise in the economy cabin of an airline and should take the initiative. If there’s a fee to move to a better seat, pay it if it’s reasonable. If he wants, ask later for the fee to be refunded, or ask for some other compensation. But I also agree that in the circumstances the airline should not have charged him the money. It’s possible that the crew’s training and authority was inadequate, with disciplinary threats if they accomodate people without collecting the fee. That’s on the airline. Reasonable policies, reasonable flexibility, reasonable authority for crew to make their own decisions, will make the cabin a better place.

  5. Lol, I’m sorry , but his height is nothing that much out of the ordinary. I’m 1m96cm, so 2cm shorter than this guy, and I never feel like I should be the first to get better seats because of it. Plenty of people my height as well, I don’t stand out.
    I also never put my feet out in the aisle because I’m uncomfortable – this is just rude.
    I simply try to plan ahead to score free seats near to me using expertflyer, and it almost always works, but I never think anyone has to give me one for free nor do I expect it/ask for it.
    This guy is just entitled, that’s all. Not news-worthy.

  6. You get what you pay for. Period. If you go into a restaurant and order a larger portion, it costs more. Many clothiers charge more for an XXL size.

    If Mr. Mountain rents an economy car which doesn’t offer him sufficient legroom, should the car rental company upgrade him to a full-size for no extra charge? And if he wants to buy a car, should the dealership sell him a larger car for the same price as a smaller car?

    My partner is tall (6’ 2”) and can’t comfortably sit in a regular pitch economy seat. What do we do? We buy seats – usually in a premium cabin – where he has enough legroom. Yes, it costs more – sometimes a lot more, but that is the cost of traveling comfortably.

  7. I wonder what would happen if he refused to pay and move. How would the service be operated, or would they eventually give up and move him free of charge.

  8. If the meal service was going to be compromised because of his feet being in the aisle then surely the safety of passengers is compromised if the aisle is blocked. I’d have thought in this situation the crew would have under obligation to reseat him to keep aisles and exits clear, etc.

  9. I don’t see why this is a matter of much debate. The passenger ought to have stayed put, refused to pay the fee, and the airline would have been forced to move him at no charge so as to facilitate dinner service.

    He requested (and was approved by an employee) that he be given an accomodating seat prior to boarding. He had the presence of mind to be proactive in handling the situation. Further, no charge was discussed by either party, which means there’s no grounds for charging one of the two parties came to an agreement.

    NAUgrad05, I’m somewhat concerned by your comment. Nowhere in the article does it specify that the passenger knew about SeatGuru (James brought it up as a matter of providing context), and most of the travelling public don’t either. I wouldn’t think it reasonable to expect someone to check a service, app, or site that they have no prior knowledge of to avoid an issue like this from occuring.

    Finally, regarding the matter of width versus height of a passenger: a person’s height is finite, and entirely outside of their control. A person’s weight varies from a matter of laziness to being difficult to control, depending on the circumstances unique to each person. Critically however, options do exist for weight control in all cases. The same cannot be said for a person’s height.

  10. I don’t buy it, I’m 195 and whilst not comfortable in a standard seat I have always been able to get in it.

    I do think that if there is a spare unpaid for extra legroom seat they should be given to taller people but I always pay the extra, my comfort is more important than some £££’s!

  11. “You choose to be overweight” – only in some cases. I think there are medical conditions the impose hardships on some people that make weight gain something very difficult to counteract. But that is outside the central topic of discussion on this thread.

    Everyone on a flight is relegated a specific amount of space – and that is the key, they are buying that specific quantity of space on a flight. A 5 year old pays the same fare as an large adult and is justifiably, by money spent, given the same space as an adult passenger. Large passengers can choose to crunch themselves into normal space provided or pay for extra for more space so they can “spread out”. They should plan ahead for the trip in front of them and never expect handouts based on the goodwill of the crew. Seat sizes and policies are clearly written. Passengers are responsible for educating themselves before they travel. From this experience, Mr. Mountain will be better able to plan for his next trip and, should he choose, make himself more comfortable by buying a seat with extra legroom.

  12. Two 6’6 people can have different proportions. If he has longer legs and was in a seat with 30″ of pitch, he had to put his legs in the aisle, it wasn’t him being entitled. If there was an open seat they should have moved him for free, or he should have been proactive. Regardless, I’m sure with this attention he’ll come out ahead.

  13. Make him pay. If you’re tall and you choose to pay less to fly a budget airline, then you have no one else to blame but yourself. Maybe he should take a boat, flying isn’t a right.

  14. I’m 6’6” and while I’ve often had friendly check in or gate agents move me into an open exit row or economy plus seat I don’t think I should automatically be entitled to a free upgrade.

    Sure, I suppose I have less control over my height than someone has over their weight but even someone who is 5’9” is still uncomfortable in economy. Why does my comfort beat their comfort or the airlines profits?

  15. There is an argument here for establishing standards for is to be considered minimum pitch/seat width sizes. Some of these airlines are absolutely ridiculous

  16. He needs to pay for more legroom just like the rest of us. I’m only 5’9” and I’m uncomfortable in regular Economy on many planes. What defines “tall?” The unintended consequences of a policy dictating that “tall” passengers get more legroom for free could lead to someone who has paid for legroom being removed and placed in a regular economy seat to accommodate a passenger of more height. The price of extra legroom is not extreme. This guy made a calculation that because he was (seemingly) taller than most, he gets a free pass. My three brothers are all taller than this guy and they pay for legroom and would never demand that it be given for free.

    And he needs to keep his feet out of the aisle – his height doesn’t trump passenger safety.

  17. I´m tall and this is easy. Sometimes you take the gamble and hope for a free upgrade through status or friendly gate agents. Somtimes that works. And sometimes it doesnt. If I´m not okay taking the risk, the solution is easy. I pay for extra legroom.

    Not paying for extra legroom but expecting it for free is… well, I´ve never had this idea that someone owes me something because I´m tall.

  18. I’m 6’4 and about 195lbs. If I’m flying in the back, I almost always pay for an extra legroom seat on a flight longer than 5 hours. I flew back from Europe on a Delta 767-400 last fall and had to fly in regular economy, it was pretty rough. No matter how comfortable the seat itself may be, if your knees are hitting the seat in front of you, it will be a long flight. Its honestly one of the reasons I fly JetBlue so often, I only get even more space if its a redeye, because even on the new retrofit planes, the seats have more than enough legroom for a daytime flight.

    That beig said, I don‘t expect to be entitled to an extra legroom seat without paying, that’s ridiculous. The airline has every right to charge a premium for the seats. What if extra leg room is full, does this guy expect to be bumped into J just to accomodate his height?

  19. The comparison to overweight people is not valid. People can lose weight. People don’t have control over their height. I can understand someone who is 6’2 expecting to be able to fit into a seat. Its a reasonable height so airlines should expect passengers of that height on most flights and be able to accommodate them in all seats. Someone who is 6’6 though is not as common and he should have booked an exit row, because leg room was certainly going to be an issue.

  20. @Donna: I understand the idea, but then the standard seat size should be one that any human can fit in. I’m 5’10” and do just fine with most economy seats. Why should he have to pay more than I do just to be able to safely sit in his seat? Effectively, the airline is punishing him for his height- something he has no natural control over.

  21. What I’m trying to say is either let someone like this have a seat with more legroom for free, or make sure standard seat sizes are more inclusive. When people say he must pay, they are assuming that he’s financially able to do so comfortably- which is not necessarily the case.

  22. I am 6’4″ and I don’t expect airlines nowadays to provide an extra legroom seat to me because of my height. I understand that I have to pay to book an extra legroom seat in advance if I feel I need one, and the availability of such seats is a big deciding factor in choosing which flight to book. It’s part of being tall but I don’t expect an airline to accommodate me for free. Like someone else said, they are selling a 30″ pitch seat at a certain price and a 34″ pitch seat at another price, and it’s up to me to decide which I want to pay for. I don’t demand hotels provide me an upgrade to a room with an extra long king bed because of my height. I look to see what room types are available when I make a hotel booking and book accordingly based on bed type for specific room offerings. Why should an airplane seat be any different?

  23. I am 6’6 and have a hard time fitting in regular Y seats. On short flights I suffer. On longer ones I pay up. Mr Mountain should understand this. Often staff have mercy but you cannot count on it.

  24. Study after study has shown that tall men get paid more, get promoted faster, and are seen as more desirable mates. My theory (190cm / 6′ 2″ here is that you gotta take the good with the bad – if I have to cough up some extra cash for Economy Plus I’m still coming out ahead in the grand scheme of life.

  25. Disabled/elderly people always get preferential treatment because of their physical condition, so tall people should be given preference for exit row seats, etc. As you correctly pointed out, they always have done so before $$$ was more important than people. Speaking of which, the real issue is in the seats themselves. They keep making them tighter. I’m 5′ 11″ and on many seats, my knees are jammed into the back of the row in front. How far will airlines go? 20″ pitch? Why don’t we just all stand up already like in a bus?

  26. I agree with Neil Z, you get what you pay for and the examples N gives are spot on. You wouldn’t expect a car rental company to provide a free upgrade for leg room so why should the airline? #

    There is an option for more leg room he should pay for it.

  27. I am 6’2″ and understand that booking economy means I get what I get. If he was really that concerned, he should have booked a seat with more legroom to guarantee his space. I’m also in agreement with others that since multiple seats with extra room were available, it was a douche move to charge him after boarding.

  28. Within the UK and Europe he would probably have a case for unlawful indirect discrimination on grounds of sex on the basis that men are more likely than women to find seat pitch too small. I can’t see how the airline could then defend not allocating tall passengers extra legroom seats, free of charge, when those passengers book – that’s the obvious solution to the pitch problem. Such a case could prove a nightmare for airlines

  29. Amazing. Already in people’s mind there is a difference between premium economy and economy and people think it’s stealing if you move yourself to an empty PE seat after takeoff. The airline management will be happy.

    People will gain satisfaction from others misery as much as in their own comfort. Personally I think a society that exhibits so much individualism should break up.

  30. This is an easy one, your ticket provides you with a certain amount of space per airline. If you want or need more than payup. This guy seems like an experienced traveler and knows the game very well. He needs to pony up the extra money for a larger seat. I love the people who says fat people are fat because they choose to be but tall people can’t help themselves! Give me a break, airlines are selling space and no matter your personal biases they need to pay more for more space.

  31. Btw I will take my chances under moslem terrorists or Chinese communists or Russians or in general anarchy. If you are afraid of getting raped if you are a woman or murdered because you are a white bourgeois pay more taxes to support the army or the cops. Why are the rest of us who are willing to take our chances paying more taxes to save your neck. Why is there not even a choice offered?

    As two nytimes articles shown trump and Jared Kushner pay no taxes. Always the loudmouths who end up being freeloaders.

  32. I’m 7 feet tall. For this he should have never had to pay. For those of you who say we should pay more is ridiculous. The fact is you only grew to a certain height. My parents are 5’10 and 5’11 so I’m still unsure as to how I became 7 feet or 213 cm tall. But a person of weight is different because a person is in control of what they eat and how much they weigh. Rather a person of height grows to a certain height. He should have honestly just taken the seat once the plane took off, I normally take exit rows too and I’m totally willing to help in the event of an emergency.

  33. There should be a law regulating the minimum pitch of an airline seat. And that minimum should be large enough that any passenger can fit into it comfortably. Otherwise, there is nothing stopping carriers from making their seats even smaller

  34. OP got what he paid for. If you OP wanted more legroom, pay for a seat that offers more legroom.

    Next question.

  35. Please correct me if I am wrong. I believe that people with a specific waist circumference are required to buy 2 seats on specific US based airlines. If the flight is not fully booked, the price for the second seat will be refunded. This could system could be transferred to tall people over 2m / 6‘ 7‘‘ , so that these people would get a refund for a seat with extra legroom, if other extra legroom seats remain empty.

    Recently, I flew Wizz Air. This was actually the first time I really did not fit in the seat with my 6’ 8‘‘. The seat pitch is said to be 30 inch, but the plane came with „thick“ seats. Hence, the effective seat pitch was much lower compared to Ryanair with slim line seats. I could have booked emergency seats in advance for 25€. As the flight was just 50min and the ticket just 35€, I was not willing to pay the premium. I ended up to be reseated at the aisle in row 2 with a free middle seat. The crew insisted that I should pay for row #1 but no thanks.

  36. @Voaygeur: No way I fly an airline called “Wizz Air.” I’m not making judgments about others, but I’m just not into that sort of thing.

    As to fat v tall, one is controllable, just not immediately. I’d buy 2 first class if the width wasn’t fixed.

  37. Being 6ft7 and can confirm this was not my choice and equally there is nothing I can do against it. I don’t think he should be forced to pay.,

    However, I think reality is often even harsher. As a LH*G (SEN) I’m – in theory – entitled to free exit row seating on LH-group flights. Actually, I’m most of the time able to select such a seat upon reservation. However, in about 90% of the cases I’m deprived of this seat during check-in or boarding, because “friends and family” are higher up in status … In normal seats I equally cannot sit straight, but have to intrude the aisle (or worse, the neighbor’s space). Once, I was offloaded because of this (but later compensated). This is the reason I moved virtually all business away from LH-group: What shall we tall people do, if we cannot even pay for legroom (by money or status)?

  38. What?! You get what you pay for. I’m very short and light, but the airlines aren’t giving me a footrest for free to make sure I fit properly in my seat or a reduction in cost because I take up less room/weight. I often like to PAY for premium seating to be more comfortable in general and have room to work, etc. If I was moved for a tall dude who didn’t pay, I wouldn’t be happy about it.

  39. Sorry but I kind of question the premise here that he literally *could not* find any way to sit in his seat. I am 6’3” and while economy class is uncomfortable in the extreme it’s not close to being impossible. I recently had a guy next to me who was clearly a few inches taller than me and he didn’t have his legs in the aisle – you may have to ‘manspread’ but you can fit your legs in, uncomfortably.

    This is probably the main reason for status on an airline – I always get an exit row free of charge on BA and usually have a seat free next to me thanks to their unofficial “empty seat” policy next to golds when they fly coach. I feel bad for this guy but I just question if he really couldn’t fit. 6’6 isn’t THAT rare….

  40. You know what you paid for when you bought those tickets. I wear US 46 slim fit suits, you think I m comfortable with my back and shoulders if I fly in Economy on long-haul?

  41. Lots and lots of sour grapes from the vertically challenged, here. Here’s the thought experiment shorter folks should be doing: let’s suppose that the airlines in their wisdom decided next year to make the pitch of a seat barely suitable to a person who was 5 feet 2 inches (157cm). If you were 5 foot 2 inches, the seat in front of you would kiss your knees; if the person in front reclined, you would often find the seat jamming painfully into your joints and/or the passenger in front glaring at you for “jamming your knees into their back”). Now imagine how such a seat would work for someone who was 5 feet 6 (167 cm) or 5 foot 8 (172cm). I guess you’d just have to shove your legs into the aisle, into the seat back, or into your neighbors space…kind of like those of us who are 196 cm or higher often do right now. If you found yourself in a seat whose knee space was designed to barely accommodate someone 8 inches (20cm) shorter than you, would you consider the move to a seat that just barely accommodates your height any kind of upgrade? And would you particularly appreciate being told that if you want the “extra space” you should now pay for it?

    The issue isn’t that tall people want something for nothing. The issue is that tall people are being provided seats that don’t safely fit them in the first place, and carriers seem eager to shrink that space even further. As so many others have pointed out, overweight passengers usually have an option to reduce the amount of space their body takes up through diet or exercise. Tall people cannot easily unscrew their legs and stash them in the overhead bins.

  42. I think the airlines have done an amazing job, by charging for extra legroom seats they have turned them in to a privilege for people so now anyone regardless of size etc… shouldn’t be “entitled” to them for free. What ever happened to having a little compassion for other human beings?

    I’m 5’11 and at times have trouble fitting in normal seats so cannot even imagine how that would be with an extra few inches. If the seats are there, just let the guy have a break.

  43. I am a tall travel writer, 6’5″, who round-tripped the Atlantic (from North America) as many as a dozen times a year – until recently. The airlines have severely diminished the travel experience in my opinion, so a year ago I bought an RV and since then have spent my time exploring North America. No worry about rushing to the airport, dealing with TSA, delayed flights, lost luggage and uncomfortable seat pitches. I used to love getting on a plane. No longer.

  44. Well said Kendor. I am 6ft 3″ tall and know this issue very well. It was not too long ago that many carriers had 34″ pitch as standard. We now have as low as 28-30″ . That is a 4-6″ reduction in the name of profit. One solution is to have passengers list their height next to their date of birth when booking and seat accordingly. One pet peeve I have is when I see 5ft 2″ passengers get seated in exit rows and 6ft 6″ passengers get seated in cram rows on fully booked flights.

    Sometimes, I just sit in the toilet – mucho leg room.

  45. The tall guy knew what he’s getting into. This can’t be the first time he “doesn’t fit” into a seat.
    Pay up!!! Entitlement issue.
    To impose on the airline ground staff and the flight crew to answer to his poor planning is disrespectful

  46. I’m 6’4 with very long legs and my friend is 6’9 and a former Australian NBA player. We once had to sit on the last row of an AirAsia flight with 28″ seat pitch because our earlier flight (on which we’d reserved exit rows) was cancelled. We could not actually fit- my femurs are almost 28″. The FAs were quite friendly about it and allowed us to keep the armrests up and put our legs out in the aisle. Fortunately it was only Singapore to Kuala Lumpur so it was 40 minutes of pain. It definitely violated some safety rules. I think that seating pitch under 32-31″ or so is actually in violation of FAA rules. It doesn’t matter if 90% of passengers can fit– the other 10% can block the evacuation. Sadly people are going to have to die grisly deaths from smoke inhalation or be burnt to a crisp after a failed evacuation in order to force airlines to require a reasonable seat pitch.

    Generally I find on non-US carriers the FAs will generally help me get an exit row seat. On US carriers I try to fly B6 most of the time or I end up booking extra legroom seats on other airlines. There’s no way in hell I will take an AA 737Max — and I’m based in South Florida!

  47. Consider it the revenge of us short people. Tall guys are always getting the benefits from everything, whether it be better job prospects, relationships, etc. So I can imagine some airline exec about my size designing seats to extract his pound of flesh. Bwahahahahaha….

  48. I don’t know what the answer is to this because it’s not his choice to be tall but fat people should have to buy two seats I just flew on a Alaska airlines six hour flight in a window seat and had probably the most miserable fight of my life because the guy in the middle was like 400 hundred pounds and he took both arm rests and his eat was in my face I also think the crew should have moved him because it was an exit row and I don’t think he was capable of operating an exit but either way he should have bought two seats or first class

  49. The airline should have accommodated him since the seats were empty but I think mr Mountain is a cheap charlie. If you are tall and worried about discomfort pay a little more money for a seat you will fit in.

    Sure it’s not his fault he is tall but he should be aware of that and take responsibility for buying a product he fits in. He probably wouldn’t be too comfortable renting a subcompact car, so is it the rental companies responsibility to upgrade him to an SUV for free? A subcompact may not be an appropriate vehicle for a very tall person so one should probably consider a car with more legroom even if it might be more expensive. Same goes for airline seats.

  50. I’m 6″5 and have particularly long legs yet ALWAYS physically fit into any seat.

    Unless this guy has freakishly long legs, I suspect he was playing up just to get a free upgrade. Many people slouch in the seat and then have their knees up against the seat in front – sit properly and there will be more room. It’s very uncomfortable yes, but you’re sitting in economy…

  51. Although I agree that height is obviously something you can’t control, it should be obvious that you will be uncomfortable in a regular seat these days. Pay extra to get an exit row or if the airline has “extra legroom seats” such as united or delta then pay. Frankly, I have seen “tall” people and yes, 6’5″ who will fit into the seat, if they sit up straight, and not have to sit sideways with feet in the aisle. Anyways what is the cutoff for “tall”….. I am 5’9”, not overweight but happen to have broad shoulders (naturally) and for me the issue is seat width. I have to sit scrunched up so as not to rub shoulders with whoever is next to me and god help me if there is a fatty next to me, which in America is often the case, given how overweight the general public seems to me. Therefore I suck it up for a shorter flight, or buy a first class seat if it is a longer flight.

  52. dont complain about 10yrs ago the pitch was 34″. 10yrs ago an econimic class ticket cost twice as much.
    now airfare are as cheap as ever so more people can fly. Not happy? buy a J seat or at least W.

  53. A better topic would be- should tall people be entitled to extra space seat for free?

    I’m tall and I thank the airline for their goodwill when I’m upgraded for whatever reason. An average decent human, upon seeing how tall Mr. Mountain is, should also try to accommodate him in a better seat.

    That said, it’s best not to take this for granted. I solve a lot of my upgrade needs by just buying the higher class, and do so happily.

  54. Air travel is not the most comfortable. But the price of airfare has dropped due to small seats. So if you prefer or need a bigger seat, pay for it. Tall people who need customized bed or mattresses to be comfortable, pay more for those items. I agree with the example of car rental, tall people don’t expect to get upgraded and bigger vehicle for free, why should they get better seat for free? I don’t think we should force tall people to pay more as he/she should have the option to pay for better seat or squeeze into a small seat.

  55. Other than the 7 footer up above, none of you are tall enough not to fit in a “regular” seat. Especially the 5 9 guy who says he’s uncomfortable. You’re ridiculous.

    I’m 6 ft 9 and I sit in economy when I can’t get exit row / premium and I can fit. It’s nkt comfortable but it works. We don’t deserve free upgrades and I won’t take someone else’s seat, but if it’s available it should definitely be offered. The guy in the story must have just woken up one day and grown 4 inches to not know how to handle his own height on a flight. Making us all look bad. Lastly, there’s no way he couldn’t fit anyways. They could have snuck past and he could have pointed towards middle seat for a few minutes. Pure hyperbole.

  56. Excuse me, why should he get a seat for free for which other passengers need to pay?

    I am almost certain that he did not grow a few additional inches between him booking the ticket and the date of flight. Thus, he knew then that he will not fit into his seat. Thus, if he wants (or needs) a seat with extra legroom he needs to pay for it at time of booking.

    Showing up at Check-In and requesting such a seat is simply his way to try to avoid the fee.

    Next thing: everybody overweight will demand an upgrade to First Class!

    Sorry, he has to pay!

  57. I am very short (4 ft 7 in) and I would like to be able to fly in overhead storage for a significant discount. My baby son fits in a carrier and should be able to go underseat for free but sometimes the IFE is in the way which is why I like the new AA 737 MAX 9.

  58. So if you are tall you should also get a bigger car for free, because you don’t fit in the smaller one? I mean, big one at same price as little one for littler people

  59. Definitely touched a nerve with this article. I’m 6’6″ & always take time to do my homework prior to booking a flight. I have suffered at times, but because I do my homework I more often than not get an emergency exit seat or pay for premium economy. I took the risk last night on my Cebu Pacific Flight, got to the counter early enough and was able to nab some emergency exit isle seats. There are times I get crammed in for not paying for the better seats, but the experience just reminds me to do my homework and be prepared to pay next time. I certainly paid for economy plus for my flight from Honolulu to Prague (would have been lunacy not to pay for a days worth of time up in the air).

  60. I’m absolutely appalled at the lack of comprehension from virtually every comment being made here saying that the guy was “entitled”.

    He went and talked to an employee. Before he boarded. He made a REQUEST for more leg room. The employee APPROVED his request with no discussion of cost. Since when is having the foresight to REQUEST something and getting it approved by an appropriate party equated to entitlement?

    Is it truly that hard for everyone here to understand that he was promised something and was then told that he couldn’t have it? For goodness sake, it’s right there in the article you’re commenting on. TWICE!

    “The Otago Daily Times is reporting that he requested a seat with additional legroom at check in, noting his obvious but unique height. He says check in staff assured him he would be given such a seat, but when he boarded he realised he was allocated an ordinary economy seat at check in.”

    And later…

    “He explained what he had been assured at check in”

    How on earth do the lot of you hold this passenger responsible for this? Heaven help you all if you’re ever promised something from a credit card company or an airline, don’t get it, and then have a story written about you being “entitled” for trying to have it followed through.

    Yeesh.

  61. Cheap Charlie, Stupid Stu, Entitled Enrique?

    If you need more of a commercial product, buy it.

    Its only $65 for a long haul flight.

  62. So for all of you making ‘car’ comments, or ‘paying for X amount of space’ comments, or anything of the like…

    Allow me to simplify my prior post for all of you.

    The man was told he could have something for free after he ASKED for it at check in. AFTER HE BOARDED he was asked to pay for that which he had been promised he would get for free.

    Why do none of you, not a single one, see a problem with this?

  63. Following up my earlier comments: I’ve maintained Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status for the last ten years precisely so I won’t have to deal with this issue of lack of space/ seat pitch (I’m 6’4″-ish or about 194 cm). So the question is somewhat academic to me: I most often get my sufficient space for my legs and I don’t typically have to pay extra for it.

    But to the (short?) people suggesting that the guy was slouching in his seat to gun for the “free” “upgrade”, or that people over 6 feet can find a way to fit into the typical airline seat …. um, no. As someone else mentioned, different tall people have different proportions. I’m a thin guy, with a BMI between 21 and 23. My experience is that I can sit up ramrod-straight in many airline seats and the seat in front of me will nevertheless pushing into my knees; sometimes I can even feel the passenger residing in it. If the person in front of me reclines, I’m either forced to manspread into my neighbors space or drive my knees deep into the back of the person in front of me. Sudden reclines usually earn me undeserved glares, and invites near-injury to my legs.

    I suppose that those who are arguing that people who want to “buy more” should pay more would be happy with a per-pound pricing model for airline tickets. I’d be game for that: I can control for weight a lot more easily than I can manage excess height.

  64. Yes of course you should pay.
    You choose to travel you’re not forced to, if you want to travel in comfort then pay the applicable fare.

    This is why I at 5’10″/1.78m either choose row 1 or the exit row when travelling intra-Europe/US.

  65. I’m 6’11 and all leg (42 in inseams are FUN for both flying and clothing!) so I can understand where the gentleman is coming from but I will say that I pay for an exit or bulkhead seat no matter the flight, as it is physically impossible to sit elsewhere. When they aren’t available, Gate agents and flight attendants do everything they can to get me seated and thankfully other passengers have always been helpful in my experience. I do think there is a significant difference in treatment between moderately tall and TALL…But I don’t expect to just be given a better seat for free

  66. The comments here are much more amusing than the actual articles. I love how people throw around entitlement like my two year old niece who just learned a new word and has to say it all the time just to show the world lol.
    There’s nothing wrong with asking and there is nothing wrong with good customer service. If the doors have closed and a tall person would like a more legroom seat in the same cabin class, it’s just being a good service provide to give it to him or her. It’s not costing the airline any extra money. I have gotten many things just by politely asking, and a few things that I didn’t even ask for.

    Air travel has not been the exclusively for the wealthy since the end of the 1960s. My aunt flew to Europe as a college student in 1967 and my dad’s family at the time was definitely lower middle class if not outright poor. It took her a bit to save up but she made it. My parents and I traveled a lot during the 1970s. It wasn’t dirt cheap but it sure wasn’t the exclusive domain of the wealthy. Airlines were making profits and providing decent customer service.

    It’s the race to the bottom mentality by passengers and airlines that created this atmosphere. Can’t blame the airlines, based on some comments here, passengers would trip over each other just to save one penny on the airfare even if it meant paying $25 oxygen surcharge and $50 boarding fee.

  67. I think that given the circumstances she shouldn’t have been charged for the exit row sets. However, he shouldn’t take this for granted and plan ahead for his own sake.
    I’m only 5’8 so even though sometimes I can choose extra legroom seats for free due to my ff status, I generally don’t as taller passengers probably need those than I do.
    Now, If I’m seated in one and see someone struggling with legroom near me, I would be happy to trade.

  68. Airlines have decreased the seat pitch over the years. The seats fit 98% of the passengers and not 100%. It would be way too expensive for the airlines to have every seat to accommodate 100% of the passengers. So the airlines either need to announce in advance that their regular economy seats cannot safely accommodate anyone over 198/6’6” tall and therefore those passengers are required to purchase more expensive seats for their own safety and of others or offer to accommodate those passengers for free in exit rows. This is the case of flying while human. Some humans are tall, and humans are getting taller every year.
    I am 6’4” and short haul economy is rough, doable on 2 hour or less flights though. I have flown first on all of my long-haul trips in the last 10 years so really lucky in that regard.

  69. Stop it with the wide/tall debate. Being wide is a lifestyle choice, but still personal choice. Tall does have to do with lifestyle choice when growing up too if you don’t notice.

    Airline use belt extender for measuring width. Why not implement height limit too. You are not entitled to be upgraded because you are tall. You paid for a seat knowing beforehand what you would get.

    Do you ever go buy a S size shirt and demand them to upgrade it to XXXXL, NO you don’t buy a shirt that doesn’t fit you. Many apparel stores sells XXXL at a higher price, please go sue them.

    Do you rent a compact car and demand an upgrade to large SUV because you don’t fit?
    even better, when you go to a car dealer demand to BUY a large SUV and PAY the compact car price.

    Do you “pay” the person behind you in a theater because they only see your back not the show?

    Does your XXXXXL cloths weight more and takes up more space that you demand to check 100lbs bag for free?

    Do you ever write to your congressman/representative to buy bigger buses bigger subway trains?

    Do you get accepted into Ivy schools just because you are the tallest person in the world?

    Do you ever go to SixFlags, some rides have maximum height limit. Try to tell them to rebuild the coasters to make you fit, over ever sue them because you don’t.

    Do you pay more tax?

    Do you ever think YOU are the problem, and you need to fix your own problem not force others to fix it for you?

    Life is not fair, people demanding equality and accommodation is screwing the system, learn to live with it.

  70. I’m 5’5, so economy works fine for me. I never recline my seat, even on long haul 12+ flights to not make it hard for people behind, yet no tall people ever help me at groceries reaching the top shelf. Wt…… lol

  71. I find the car/clothing comparisons to be fallacious at best. Cars have adjustable seats, meaning a taller individual generally has no issue actually fitting their long legs into it. Likewise, I’ve never seen XL/XXL shirts at higher prices in stores than S/M/L. Not to mention that height is entirely the genetic lottery, not a lifestyle choice like girth is. I’ve also never seen a tall height cause a person to be denied entry on a theme park ride unless it was a kiddy ride regular adults wouldn’t fit on anyways, nor have I ever seen a subway or bus that did not give the option to stand for extremely tall people. Unfortunately, you can’t safely stand on a plane.

    You people remind me of the newscaster from “Airplane!” – “These people bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let ’em crash!” Yes, he bought his ticket. He was proactive enough to request a seat with more legroom. He was assured he would get it at no extra cost. For a non-frequent traveler, that should be the end of the story. But he wasn’t moved and had the politeness to actually ask on the plane instead of just self-upgrading. Ended up having to pay the fee anyways despite being told he would be moved free of charge.

  72. I am 6’9” tall with long legs. I am a fit and active 48 years old. I have had to pre-board on some flights with open seating because there are only a handful of seats I fit in. They ask if I am handicapped or have an issue that would require me to have a certain seat. I tell them yes BUT in reality, I will end up being handicapped if I have to sit in a normal seat with a 30″ to 32″ pitch by the time the flight arrives to the destination.

    Personally, I have essentially been forced to purchase business/first class seats most of the time and I happily do. Even the exit rows don’t have a lot of width (my waist is 36″) and becomes uncomfortable. I am fine purchasing premium cabin/seats but in some cases, there are not direct flights or seats available and in those cases, I believe an accommodation should be made.

    My biggest problem is that my knees hit the seat in front of me which in turn will not allow the passenger in the seat in front of me to recline their seat at all. This has caused numerous issues for me in the past.

    In most cases, people are accommodating but it does get old having the 80 year old 100 pound lady seated in an exit row. Do you really think this lady is able and willing to help me exit the plane being 230 pounds at 6’9″ tall?

  73. @Dusty – Accept the fallacious at its worst, the truth!!!!!!

    Cars: you’re probably right, with sarcasm.
    https://youtu.be/f35zaYucP_0

    Clothing:
    https://i.cbc.ca/1.4796517.1535123141!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/george-walmart-plus-size-charge-more.jpg

    Theme park ride:
    https://www.cedarpoint.com/help/ride-policies and go to height requirements
    GateKeeper 52″ (up to 78″)
    Millennium Force 48″ (up to 78″)
    SlingShot 48″ (up to 79″) etc.

    Just to name a few.

    “Ended up having to pay the fee anyways despite being told he would be moved free of charge.”
    Yes, you can ask for it, they can give you or you can pay for it. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED because you are tall.
    Just like I tell them at the counter
    “It’s our honeymoon, that lady over the 800 number told me I got upgraded to first class”
    at the gate
    “It’s our honeymoon, that lady over at check in told me I got upgraded to first class”
    on the plane
    “It’s our honeymoon, that lady over at the gate told me I got upgraded to first class”

    Tell me this actually works and you get free upgrades.

  74. Are we still feeling bad for tall people who don’t pay to guarantee extra space? Let’s all remember Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”, where it describes how tall people make more money (summarized in the Atlantic article below).

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/the-financial-perks-of-being-tall/393518/

    Remember that us short folks also don’t fit comfortably into the seats, especially when our heads sit below the headrest or feet don’t touch the floor. We all have to deal with discomfort. We all get to choose what we guarantee for ourselves, but I would not expect to be given it for free, even if I asked at check-in.

  75. KW: Short people have options to mitigate their discomfort in flight without cost, with just a modicum of planning. Tall people’s options would include a saw, a tourniquet, and copious pre-operative bleeding. As a short person, you have an option to use your backpack/person item as a footrest, or bring a pillow to ease the discomfort of your head falling below the headrest. Tall people have no such option: their necks and heads rise well above the top of the seat and “headrest,” rendering it ineffective as a convenient place to rest one’s head, and short of sawing off their feet or half of their thighs, tall passengers will not fit in a normal posture in a standard economy seat.

    Speaking as a quite tall person, I find the fixation on the supposed advantages of tall people rather bizarre. My experience is that in America, those advantages are mostly imaginary. Beauty, wealth, education, and a sense of humor are far more advantageous in many social and business situations.

  76. The concept of paying for seat assignment is something quite foreign to non-US travelers. Internal and external airlines data suggests that while 80% of US customers care about which seat they fly in (with an opportunity for airlines to monetize it), the opposite is the case for their European counterparts (where only 30% does). So I am puzzled that HX wanted the guy to pay extra for something that, to him, was just common sense – even more so if that seat would have been empty anyways.

  77. I’m 6″6 and have never gotten a free seat due to my height nor a move on many airlines both long and short haul flights

  78. I’m 6’6″ and I love being tall. Sometimes I just have to pay a little extra for it. I don’t expect better airplane seats for free, extra long shirts for the same price, or anything else. I’ve always referred to this as paying the Tall Tax.

  79. Obviously there’s a fuzzy line — I’m 6’2″ and while very uncomfortable in 30-32″ seats, I wouldn’t consider my height sufficiently in the tails of the human norm to be thought of as a disability. However, I would consider 6’6″-7′ sufficiently tall as to require an accommodation by the airline under the ACAA (obviously this only impacts flights touching the US).

    Generally, those who require a disability-related accommodation must arrange this with the airline in advance. As another comment pointed out, very tall people can have femurs physically longer than economy seat pitch, so bulkhead or “extra legroom” seating would be a reasonable accommodation the airline would be expected to make; however, waiting until check-in is inviting problems.

  80. I like Alaska’s approach to oversized people. Book the big and tall seat or two seats and if the flight is not full you get a refund.

    I also love the idea of paying per pound at check-in. There is a direct relationship between passenger weight and cost to the airline. My wife is small so it would work out for us

    But if the seat was available they should have moved him for free. Most airlines allow choosing any seat in the 24 hours before departure.

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