Colby on a recently flight. Imagine if the seat were reclined. He can't even make the tray table go flat.

Colby on a recent flight. Imagine if the seat were reclined. He can't even make the tray table go flat.

A while back Colby, a 7 foot tall man, emailed me asking to look into what airlines could do to make flying for tall people easier. At first I didn’t think too much about it. “Why should airlines be concerned about taller passengers?”

Then I got thinking. Why not? We have heard a lot recently about the passengers of size issue, where larger passengers are required to purchase two seats. Yes, it can be harder for some people, but for almost all, there is that choice (coming from someone who is larger myself). If someone can’t help their large size, they can get it documented and then the airline does have to accommodate them at no cost to the passenger. Now, being short is considered a disability, but not being tall. Our culture seems to love tall people. From athletes to people wearing taller shoes and even having surgery to get taller. People might look up to you (pun intended), but it doesn’t make flying an easy task.

So, I pose the question: Should Airlines Accommodate Tall Passengers? I say yes.

I am not talking about letting tall passengers get first class seats for free, but what about letting taller passengers have first dibs on exit row or bulk head seats? I believe there is a no-cost solution for airlines here and I really want to explore possible solutions more.

When flying, Colby tries very hard to try and get an exit or bulk head seat, but he doesn’t always get one. Every time he flies he arrives to the airport early to see if he can try and get a seat with additional leg room. He will first talk to the person at the ticket counter. If that doesn’t work he will try and see if someone at the gate can help him out. If that doesn’t work most times people sitting at the bulkhead or exit row seats are happy to change seats with him when they see him hunched over walking down the aisle. He flies quite a bit and sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard he tries, there are quite a few times he will end up in a normal seat and having to endure the flight.

It's not Colby's fault he is 7' tall. Should airlines help the little guy out?

It's not Colby's fault he is 7' tall. Should airlines help the little guy out?

So what could be done? Colby is looking for airlines to be a bit more consistent with with how they deal with tall passengers. Some are very accommodating others are not. Certain airlines charge passengers more to sit in the bulkhead or exit and giving up those seats for free to tall passengers would mean loss revenue. Others , you have to pay to get a seat assignment or it is open seating and it is mad-dash for prime seats.

Thing is Colby is a pretty out going guy and has no problem asking a bunch of people if he can get a seat with more legroom. He sees other, not as outgoing tall people, who don’t ask and are constantly stuck crammed in a seat during their flight.

I plan to try and help out Colby and others that are in his same situation. At 6’1″ I am not a short person, but am still able to make sitting in standard seats work. I plan to talk to people in the industry to see what solutions airlines might be able to offer tall passengers and hopefully get some feedback from you, my readers.

What are your thoughts on this? Should airlines provide solutions? If so, what solutions should they provide?

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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113 Comments

Doesn’t the airline have to accommodate him under ADA?

Of course, that begs the question, does being tall fall under that auspices of the ADA?

Hello Frank!

Those are are short (finding conflicting answers of 4’10” and 4’8″) can be considered disabled. There is no disabled cut-off for being tall, so airlines do not have to accommodate them.

David

According to Southwests airlines Website ADA doesn’t cover seating requirements on aircraft.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) preceded the ADA, and Congress excluded air carriers and other air transportation services from the scope of ADA. As regulated under 14 CFR §382.38 Seating accommodations (i) “Carriers are not required to furnish more than one seat per ticket or to provide a seat in a class of service other than the one the passenger has purchased.”

Seeing as most airlines now that have seats with pitches greater than the standard seats classify them as something else like economy plus seems like they can get away with not providing a no cost solution even if the height of the person would qualify them for protection under the ADA.

I’m 6′ 2″ and I’m incredibly uncomfortable in airline seats. I’ve never been able to get an exit row seat either. Luckily I don’t fly that much, but a 3+ hour flight kills me.

We just need better seating design, in my opinion. Recessed seat backs would work fine for the vast majority of tall people.

But as airlines make skinnier seats, they put them closer together, which in turn creates the same seat pitch of about 30″. I understand why airlines do it, but it doesn’t help those who are tall.

David

you are 6’2″ — you are barely over average height. suck it up.

You’re a douche!

I’m 6’9, grow a couple of inches and then I’ll be even slightly sympathetic.

Stymie Beard

It’s you who’s the douche, dan. 6’2″? Come crying when you’re 6’7″, jerk.

Obviously my uncomfortableness is ignorable because yours might be greater. Obviously our legs and torsos are the same proportions, there’s only one body type, just different heights. Also, clearly I’m a “jerk” for calling someone a jerk who has the same “my pain is more important than your pain” complex as you. Congrats, you won the Internet on a really old news article comment section!

Stymie Beard

Exactly!

Matt Wiseman

Hi Bud.. I’m 7’1″… come say that to me.

I am 6ft tall. Flying long-haul coach (especially in middle and window seats) is agony for me. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone a full 1ft taller! Great article David. I admire what you’re doing to explore seating options for tall people.

At 6’5″, it would sure be nice to get some special consideration. I go for exit whenever I can, but as the article states, it isn’t always available. I also feel bad for the people who sit in front of me who sometimes have to endure my knees in their back. But there is no place else to put them!

LGH-SEA 9.5 hours in coach was torture.

Hey Joe!

Do you ever ask airlines for the exit seat? Do you ever ask other passengers to switch seats with you?

David

Matt Wiseman

As a rule smaller people won’t switch because they like to stretch out.
I generally always ask for a exit row or bulk head but it’s a gamble.

Im 6’2″ also and like Dan a longer flight is no fun. I always choose the aisle so I can get up and walk around, or stick my legs out in the aisle. I couldnt imagine what it would be like for someone who is 7foot tall. What would you propose as the solution? Where would the cutoff be to have a seat with more leg room? Would this be measured on overall height or inseam length or what? Im 6’2″ and wear pants with a 36″ inseam, I have a friend that is 6’1″ that wears a 32″. I think the 4″ probably makes a big difference on what is needed for comfort.

If they’re going to charge wider people for two seats, should they charge taller people for two seats so that there is some semblance of leg room? Where does this end? tall people, fat people, people with kids (we’ve taken care of the smokers…)

I’m 6’2″ and recently endured a redeye on AirTran in a window seat that wasn’t an exit row (ouch on my back, ankles, knees and hips), and although I was discovered the extent to which I could contort myself, I long for the days of a 33″ pitch in coach.

The difference is people can choose to be larger or even have/bring their kids on the plane. Someone tall cannot choose that. The big question is where is the cutoff? I don’t think airlines would be able to accommodate passengers who are 6’1″ or 6’2″ but what about those 6’6″ and above?

David

dpodhola

Why not 6′ 2″? I mean, really, when the person in front of me puts their seat back I can’t move my legs because they’re pinned. It’s extremely uncomfortable and I get very agitated.

I agree at 6’2″ I rarely have the person infront of me stay reclined unless they like the feeling of 2 knees in their back.

I never put my seat back in hope that the person in front of me doesn’t either…never works though 🙂

David

Colby Underwood

Thank you David for shining a bit of light on this issue. There hasn’t been much written on this subject and I greatly appreciate the dialogue that you have started.

@Ben – thank you for the information on the ACAA and ADA. I hope to do some additional research on the ADA regulations that apply to airlines and explore opportunities to make changes there.

Another issue to throw on the table – safety. Is it safe to have a tall person wedged into a seat that they can’t get out of quickly? The airlines make a big deal out of keeping luggage and bags out of the aisles and emergency exit rows, what about tall people who are wedged into a seat that they can’t extradite themselves from quickly?

Kimberly

There are few people that make me feel short (I am 5’10” & 155lbs). Being tall it tough with finding 34″ inseams for pants, skirts, shirts, & shorts that are long enough, even cars that accomidate tall folks like me. I feel for you Colby- you fly like I shop for pants! This should be an ADA issue over a certain height say 6’5″??? Why can’t we give the tallest of the tall more leg room than others? They should be able to reserve those seats for tall folks & if there are some seats left over, first come first serve.

Fly United, pay the 30 bucks, and get into Economy Plus.

Hey KB, but what if you want to go somewhere United doesn’t fly? Should a passenger have to pay more for something they cannot help? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but am curious myself.

David

David

Great post,my husband is 6’4 and were possible we’ll either upgrade or get exit seats, however I do believe airlines should be more accommodating to taller passengers, I can already hear the standard aviation response….. More seats more revenue and lower fare v less seats higher fares…

(Now for the joke) Maybe MOL has something with this standing cabin???

Yvette

I just experienced this issue flying with my 6’7 boyfriend last week.

Unfortunately for someone that tall – greater recline doesn’t solve the problem as it is his legs that don’t fit in a standard seat. His knees are pushed into the seat in front of us even if it isn’t reclined. The extra space in the bulkhead or exit row does make it manageable.

Unfortunately I agree with one of the previous posts – that someone 6’1, while uncomfortable, likely can fit in a seat — but for those 6’6 or taller – – it really is a severe hardship.

On our most recent flight we did arrive early to arrange for an exit row seat he would fit in. Thanks to Virgin America for being accommodating 🙂

Good luck to Colby in future travel!

But if you’re between 6’1.01″ and 6’5.99″ you don’t even get consideration? Odd.

I’m only 6’2″ (80th percentile) and I can promise you it is a severe hardship. Pinned knees, cut off circulation around the knee caps, and unable to reposition even if your butt is PINNED up against the back of your seat. If this was any other genetic minority, you can bet they’d accommodate for their issue.

This is a great topic for discussion. I think Ben brings up a great point about inseam length. If the problem is the distance from the back of the seat in front of you, then the solution should be built around leg length. I am only 5’10 with a 31″ inseam, and don’t find it hard to fit in airline seats. Although Ben’s friend is quite a bit taller than me, our legs are the almost the same length. Does he deserve extra space simply for being taller? Or not, because his legs aren’t terribly long.

Colby-How long is your inseam? Also, how much trouble do you have with the overhead compartments at your height?

Colby Underwood

@Travis – my inseam is 40″ (yes, 40″!)

I don’t have any problem with the overhead compartments as long as I watch my head when getting in or out of the seat.

I’m in an airport right now, and found this post by googling and trying to find out if I have any options. I’m 6’9 and air travel is frustrating. I try to book the “economy plus” seats when I can, but it has been getting more expensive lately. For a round trip with my wife, if we want to sit together, I can find myself paying an extra $250 just to sit comfortably. In regular seats, I cannot move my legs, my tray table cannot move, and if the person in front of me tries to recline, they crush my knees. Today, I had to change my flight at the last minute to a Southwest flight (open seating), and I’m one of the last to board–so I’ll be in a middle seat on top of it all.

I have to say–I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for an upgrade (although it’s increasingly difficult to find a place that will sell you *just* the seat upgrade, without other perks that jack up the price). But I wish there were some requirement or guarantee that those upgrades were available, or would be made available, for people that really need them.

Hey Jay!

Thanks for adding your two cents. Colby and I will be meeting here again soon to see what our next step will be. I don’t plan to just talk about this, but see if we can get some action!

If you have any ideas let me know. Even if you might be willing to pay more, I don’t think you should have to. You can’t help being tall and shouldn’t have to pay for it!

David

Colby is a friend and said flying was just a nightmare. I can’t understand why airlines do not have any sort of plan in place for someone that is over, say, 6’1 or 6’2? Each year it seems the seats get closer and closer together and for someone who’s legs are twice as long as another passengers, they should have some ways to make the flying experience just as comfortable as it is for those that are 5’5. Im with Colby, there has got to be better wayl

Francisco

I am 6’5″ and this is a very big issue. Many people do not know that there are variable legroom distances within the economy group. I mean, not only exit row and bulk head seats are different. I carry a tape measure to verify this. In some Airbus planes the seats way back, when the plane tappers in, are much smaller, for example. In a 757 the “exit row” behind the first exit row that leads to the door is even smaller than the standard and has a bump under the seat taking the space for the legs. If you are 6’5″ or more, you notice, and you suffer.

Another important issue is that many people think that reclining your seat does not make a difference because the person behind can recline equally. The thing is that the axis of recline is much lower than a tall person’s knees and by reclining you do not move the lower part of yuur body back. So you end up with your back in the same position but with much less knee space, even if everyone reclines equally.

It is very sad to see how many people can care about many causes, but are completely impervious to the suffering of tall people. Airlines know that many people do not care or are even people are envious of the few very tall people, so they do not need to show compassion as they do with other such causes. We need a lot of lawsuits and a lot of education to try to get the message out.

Francisco

I wish everyone was 7 feet tall.

Matt Wiseman

Francisco, I’m over 7 feet so no help for me there, lol

I’m glad to see this article. I’m 7′,3″ and fly as little as I can get away with. My sense is that airlines don’t want to open a pandora’s box regarding the height issue. Also, those of us in the extreme height range would kind of laugh (in the nicest possible way)at someone 6′,1″ saying flying was painful for them (boo hoo), so you can see how many people are vying for those bulkheads and exit rows – anyone over six feet tall (which I’m guessing is a sizeable percentage of the population)!!! No, it would open airlines up to a huge nightmare to try and answer our issue. It still bugs me, however, that no one at any of the so called customer services interactions at the airlines seem willing or able to do a darn thing for people like us.

I agree with Greg. I am 6’9″ and those of you who complain about being 6’1″-6’2″ makes me laugh to myself. I do believe the much taller passengers (6’6″+) should have priority in exit rows. Maybe airlines will take the carnival ride approach and have a line on a wall reading “you must be this tall for priority seating”. Sure would beat extra fees.

Richard

There are serious health risks for tall people flying. I am 6’5″ and 6 years ago at the ripe old age of 36 I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) as a result from flying in cramped airline seats. I was floored when it happened because I am more healthy and active than most people. My doctor wrote a note asking I be placed in exit rows or bulkheads on the aisle but the airlines ignore it most times. I am fortunate to get a decent seat 80% to 90% of the time, but it always doesn’t work out and I often find myself standing in the back of the plane in fear of another clot.

I am 6’7 265lbs and recently flew. The airline was not really accomodating for me. Almost trying to place me in a middle seat until I refused. Then got stuck at the back of the plane in an aisle seat.

Everytime I am told no more exit seats re available. I always make a point to look at the people sitting there while boarding.

And what a shock when I see people half my size sitting in the seats.

The airlines SHOULD do something about this. I try to never fly anymore. Its just not worth the trouble anymore.

Russell

I’m 6’7″ so I know what a gripe this is. So much so I actively targeted working for an airline so I very rarely got to travel in economy or at least get an exit row, made sure I knew friends who worked for other airlines so they could make a note on my booking to request exit row due to my height.
However I no longer work for an airline and boy do I miss it. What galls me is airlines that charge for exit rows, this invariably means that someone who doesn’t need it books exit row so when you arrive at check all the seats are gone and as they have been paid for the staff cannot move them even though they are sympathetic to a tall persons situation. Remember one flight to LA from London and all the exit rows were taken by little old ladies who refused to swap seats when asked by the stewardess and they could see how tall I was! Fortunately on that occasion the stewardess moved me to business class so that’s worth a shot!
Basically exit row seats should be held for tall passengers and not used as a revenue stream, perhaps even register with the airline as a tall person so automatically get priority when booking…that would get serious repeat business!

However in general we are all getting taller so airlines need to look at seat pitch in general as it is an issue that will get worse over time!

Good airlines for tall people – Virgin, Emirates, Qantas, Eithiad, South African – bad – air canada, BA, any asian airline

I am 6’4. A year ago I travelled from London to New York and the space in economy is just not enough especially when you have a sick lady in front of you who then has to tilt her chair back. I did ask for an exit row seat, but I was asked to pay extra. I then told the lady who was serving me to have a good look at my height. I am also heavy built so that doesn’t help. I honestly think that exit row seats should be reserved for tall persons only and a study should be done at what height onwards one would feel uncomfortable in a normal economy seat. I find it ridiculous that I should pay more for an exit row seat, because I am too tall to sit in a normal economy seat. I see it as discrimination and a way for airline companies to put more money into their pockets. I have had this problem since I was 18 it has been a goal of mine ever since to make a campaign of this. I think IATA should be made aware of these facts. We tall people could pressurise these companies through social media networks like Twitter. I believe us tall people should do something about this problem we have.

I am 6’3″ and find flying very uncomfortable. I try to nod off so that I don’t think about it, but stay anxious thinking about someone in the seat in front of me reclining and smashing my kneecaps. I’ve not seen anyone mention the headrests, but to me that is just as uncomfortable. My head does not even touch the headrest on most airlines. Using a neck pillow helps. When disembarking on an American Airlines flight recently, I turned to talk to someone behind me and then hit my head (hard) on one of the overhead tv screens in the aisle. Was very frustrating, feels like I’m forced to fit in a small compact car.

Unbelievable that the “very tall” in one sentance claims heightism, but in the next ridicules the “tall only” bloke for not making the mark and recommends “suck(ing) it up”. Don’t be a hypocrate. “Tall” or “very tall” all deserve a comfortable ride, and if anything is going to change we all need to stick together. A number 8 shoe clearly doesn’t fit a size 12 foot, but it won’t fit a size 9 to 11 foot either. Saying exit seats should be reserved for the “#12 feet” only, implies that the “#9 feet” should squeeze into size 8. Why should he get blisters any more than you do?

I’m (only) 6’3″, and usually have my legs pinned to the sides (behind the arm-rests) of the seat in front of me – the only position I can fit. My legs encrouch on the space of the people next to me – for which I feel bad – but I have no choice. This position is manageable for a short 2 hour flight, but anything longer becomes unbareable.

I have sympathy for those taller because they would practically have to suspend their knees with the emergency breathing equipmeny, but I can also see how guys an inch or two shorter can suffer on long flights.

I think it is safe to say that if your knees touch any part of the seat in front of you, you will have a terrible flight!

I am 5’11 and I always request an aisle seat, so that i place one leg in the aisle. However the aisles are so narrow that i spend the whole trip, recoiling my leg, so that no one trips. For international flights, i arrive 4 to 5 hours early to request an Emergency seat, but to no avail.

With much agitation, i cram my legs into a standard economy seat (seat pitch of 31″) and i request 2 pillows, one for each knee. I also put all the magazines in the pocket of the seat next to mines, but the magazine pocket has a metal rod that places a temporary imprint on my knees (without using the pillows as cushion). If the person in the seat in front of me is “heavy” then i am doomed for the flight duration. Additionally, if the person in front of me tries to recline, I ask the person not to recline,because they are leaning on my legs. When the person complains, i call the Flight Attendant to resolve the matter. Twice, when the flight wasn’t full, i was moved to first class.

When flights are full and aisle seats are not available, i just keep getting up every 30 minutes and “annoying” the hell out of the other passengers in the row, until the person in the aisle seat, offers to change with me. Do not sit longer than 2 hours on long flights to avoid developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (blot clots).

Another strategy, is to notify the flight attendant that if anyone in the Emergency row wishes to switch, i am available.

Be careful about airlines offering “extra leg room/ Economy Plus.” Always ask for the seat pitch measurements (call them, because the people at the airport are not that knowledgeable about seating design). Some airlines’ standard seat pitch is 30 inches; so when they add “extra leg room” that makes the seat pitch at 31 inches, which is THE STANDARD SEAT PITCH. The airlines is very cunning when describing seating.

I’m 6’9″ and just recently endured a 9 hour flight. I asked for the bulk head and was told that was fine, but when I arrived at my seat they had given me the one behind the bulkhead seat. After asking the bloke in front of me if he’d swap he rudely said tough and we almost started an international incident on the plane as other passengers got involved, one saying ” shit mate, your barely 5’10, give your seat up for the big fella”.

It really pisses me off that people even ask for the bulk head when the only reason they want it isn’t because they don’t fit in a normal seat but just so they can stretch out their legs. 6’1 is not tall people.

The best solution I’ve heard so far is the line on the wall saying ” you must be this tall for an exit row seat.”

Alexander

I’m 6’8″ and weigh around 325 lbs, and played college football until an injury no longer allowed me to do so. Last summer I endured 2 5 hour flights on a family vacation, which was very miserable, but my misery was nothing compared to what my dad who is 6’5″ faced, as on the trip to our destination he was forced to make a scene as the a**hole who had the “Economy Premium” exit row seat in front of him put his seat back down into his knees. The attendant stated that the man was allowed to put his seat back like that, to which dad said “Yeah and I have the right to the space occupied by my body” he was left alone after that. The woman in front of me had the good sense and kindness not to drop her seat back. On the return trip, thanks to the help of a tall airline employee I was able to get one of those “Economy Premium” seats, although I still was put in the middle seat.

I’m going on a school trip to Brazil this summer, and am trying to figure out how to make myself as comfortable as possible for those 2 10 hour flights. It’s a real shame and I’m not at all this way, but I’m going to have to be a bad customer to get moved. If anyone has any tips to help me do so I’d greatly appreciate it. By the way I flew that last trip on Delta, use your buying power to punish them.

Here’s a fun fact: Historian’s estimate the average square footage per slave on an atlantic slave ship was 7 sq ft. Square footage in an economy seat (30 in pitch x 18 in width) 3.75 sq ft. I know It’s only a few hours compared to a few weeks but damn.

I am 6’5 and would have to say I would have to weigh in the middle of this argument. I fly on average 40,000+ a year, mostly intl, mostly to Asia, so i have to deal with 12 hour flights etc. There is then and now, it used to be that if you were tall and travelling a distance, the agent would do there best to seat you comfortably and give you an exit row, i used to show up at the airport very early before a flight to ensure i got the seat(before online booking). Now everything is done online, there are fees(for some) and exit seats are almost non-existent.

Two points I argue
1) Why?
2)What could be done

1) Why??
why should an airline give someone of height an exit row seat for free especially since they now make extra revenue on the seat or award loyalty. Simple answer. They do not have to, and unfortunately they should not. Defending this opinion is hard because it can be hard to get status if you do not fly often, or fly the most affordable route, but in the airline industry, loyalty pays these days giving you access to premium seats for free in advance or on the day of flight. most people that have status have sat on a plane way too much and while no one should act snooty that they have a better seat than someone else, that environment exists. I have status and almost always get a good bulkhead or emergency exit seat on my international flights, I however never ever lean back(or sleep on a plane for that matter) because I know what it feels like to have my legs and knees hammered and trying to hold a seat up for a long flight can really really suck.

2) What can be done
They should give someone of height priority to buy the premium legroom seats at the going market rate, meaning that if you have a relationship with the airline and they ask you for your height dimensions, you should be able to, at time of booking, to get a premium seat including emergency exit, at their existing fare, or if the airline is nice, a discounted fare, they do not have obligation under their codes of conduct to give a tall man a good seat. Another option is to height profile all their passengers, which could be difficult.

The best suggestion on a long flight(10+hours) is talk to the flight attendants on the plane. Even the worst legacy carriers(American, Delta, United/Continental) attendants have a heart if you approach them the right way. Be nice, ask how there trip was in x city, did they see this, or do that, chat for a second, be personal and then ask a favor. I hate to this, embellish a bit. Embellish how often you fly, or what you do. I have on no less than three occasions been upgraded(classes) because i was nice, personal or in one case, knew the flight attendant from previous flights on the same route(very rare, and very lucky), they are people too, and they have travelled in coach before, and have lives, we see them often as rude, or abrubt, or uncaring. It is simply not true. To be honest i could care less of discomfort on short flights(5 hours or less) and people should suck it up. The average length of each leg of flight i took in 2011 was 13.5 hours(PEK-EWR, LAX-SYD, JFK-HKG were the longest flights, 14, 17, 16.5 hrs respectively)

Good Luck

Matt

Sorry mate, I disagree and I dont think that tall people should have to pay more for a seat. You quote the rules which is fine but it is these that need changing

I am 6ft 8 and in many of the short hall planes now I simply do not fit in some of the seats at all–to be honest I have always asked nicely and been moved but am seeing the attitudes of the airlines hardening. Your loyalty point is fine but that is assuming that the exit seats are premium seats–to my mind they are not-it is just a result of the airline industry being squeezed and looking for revenue streams

Height should be conidered as a disability and people over 6ft 6 should be guaranteed leg room. To have to pay in my book is discrimination

Rob

I completely agree with Rob. I’m 6’10”.

Having to pay is discrimination!

Each plane has at least 4 exit row seats. The propability that there are more than four very tall persons on the same flight is very small (except if a baseketball team goes on a flight). ..there would be enough seats for tall people.

If the seats were not sold as “premium” seats, the problem would be less, the crew could just reassign small people having an exit seat to other seats..but since these people either paid or are frequent flyer or…the airlines don’t want to upset them!

@ CJ, @ Matt, @ Rob.

This is as Matt describes it where they have created a so called balanced ‘environment’. Rob, CJ is right you can’t just say that height disability should start at 6’6. I know I am only 6’4, but I have the same problem you do.

Matt although you make a point, they are trying to maximize profits, but it should not be done at the price of the tall people. It was bad enough when tall people weren’t prioritized to exit row seats and now we have to pay for them. How about they offer premium economy seats at the price of regular economy seats for tall people.

I am quite sure they can come up for a guideline of who is really suffering because they are tall and who isn’t. I mean everyone wants to stretch their legs, but when there is only a few cm’s or no space at all between your knees and the seat in front you know they are tall and can’t do anything about it. Last time I didn’t get my exit row seat, I went on to the plane as fast as I could in order to sit down in the exit row and asked whoever’s seat it was politely if they minded changing seats. But why should I go through this hassle just because I am tall and trying to sweet talk them every time. Matt you think you are the only frequent flyer. People are so quick to judge others that they forget to work and solve problems as a team. Just because one has the money to pay more for the luxury seats does not make it alright to be charged extra for being tall.

Furthermore please read this link. The reply is very interesting and could make an interesting case. We should just call ourselves disabled.

http://www.thestar.com/article/1113703–edmonton-man-accuses-airlines-of-discriminating-against-tall-people

Hope you all enjoy your next flight.

P.s. Turkish Airlines always try to get their tall customers an exit row seat if you ask them early.

Dana

I have just flown from Manchester to South Africa, my partner is 6ft 2in and is not as tall as others that have written on here, however he is tall enough that a 10 hour flight in a normal seat pitch is very uncomfortable. We recently flew with Swiss Air and arrived at the airport 4 hours early however they allocate the extra leg room seats and bulk head seats to frequent flyers therefore we had to fly in a normal seat. The passenger in front reclined her seat and therefore my partner could not move his legs at all, which surely is against health and safety.

He kindly spoke to the lady in front, who was about 5ft, however she argued and called the manager in charge on board. She told us we should have paid for business class. Is that not discrimination, most people in the exit seats did not require a seat with extra legroom. We argued but were made to eel like we were causing trouble and that we should just keep quiet and deal with not moving our legs for 10 hours. The manager would not give us her name when we said we wanted to make a complaint, therefore i feel she maybe knew she was wrong.

WHY ARE TALL PEOPLE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, IT IS A DISGRACE THAT YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE THE SAME COMFORT AS ANYONE ELSE ON THAT FLIGHT, OUR TICKET COST THE SAME, AND WHY SHOULD WE PAY FOR BUSINESS CLASS. WE CANNOT HELP BEING TALL, FREQUENT FLYERS DO NOT ALWAYS NEED EXTRA LEG ROOM, TALL PEOPLE DO.

i have worked in travel for 10 years and i think things need to change, in a society where people fly more and more, disabled people get priority seating, why not other people that are somehow impaired.

They can’t build separate plains for tall/small/fat/skinny/ etc people after all! 7 ft is a little more than an average height i think,. is it really so challenging to fly? probably they can arrange a couple of special seats in the plains though, that might be a good idea…

My husband is 6’8″ tall. What are you all complaining about???

I am nearly 6’6″ with an inseam of 36″ and will be flying to China in a couple of months. I’ve been trying to find reviews for airlines that have more legroom than others and in the process I found this thread.

Anyone who is saying “what’s the big deal” is obviously not a tall person and I can tell you that I am in a lot of pain just travelling shorts flights (a couple of hours or more). I did manage to get an exit seat ONCE and on another occasion I luckily had 3 seats all to myself, so could put the armrests up and spread myself across them! But I think that as people are generally getting taller it should be a serious consideration for all airlines. My brother is an inch taller than me and his job involves a lot of flying, just like Colby.

I also think that it’s interesting that people take steps to accommodate others that are able to lose weight but don’t, but don’t take steps to help tall people that are unable to lose their height!

I am 6’5 and travel frequently on many different airlines. Making us pay more for adequate room does seem to be discrimination of a sort. Its like asking someone with bigger lungs to pay more for the air they breathe. On a three leg journey from Hawaii to Europe, that costs an additional 25% of what I paid for the ticket. My leg bones won’t change no matter what exercise or lifestyle I change I adopt. If they could, I’d have done it already.

And is there any limit on how much the airlines can continue shrinking the legroom, and importantly knee room on planes; or will this continue to get worse? I always, always arrive early and ask (beg) for an exit row, rarely with positive results. Then, like many who’ve posted here, I board the plane to find normal size people occupying those seats.

Shouldn’t tall people at least get some priority on the seats with more leg and knee room? Any airline that adopts tall-friendly policies will get my money.

As someone 6’5″, flying in the last 25 years has literally been a pain and not a pleasure. Back when I flew in the 1960’s through 1980’s, seat pitch was never an issue, and I looked forward to flights then. In the last few years some airlines have limited advance selection of exit and bulkhead seats to their most favored flyers, not even giving us tall folks the option to pay an extra fee for exit row seats. This is disgusting, and I can only blame the airlines’ lack of sensitivity to tall travelers — we have no choice as to how tall we grow.

Note that airlines limit the height of flight attendants to below a certain level — so none of them, even when they’re deadheading, have to worry about their knees banging into the seat ahead. It must be that few other airline employees, especially management and executives, are tall and therefore suffer through flights.

Because of the competitiveness of airlines, few are going to do anything about increasing seat pitch. It looks like it’s time to bring back some degree of regulation such as we had in the U. S. in the days of the CAB.

To airlines executives: remember that anytime a tall person is seated in a too short (pitch) seat for him/herself, it is uncomfortable and difficult not only for this passenger, but for ALL of those in neighboring seats (shoved to the side, no reclining for the passenger in front, legs in the aisle)! You may not see this since you fly in first class, but the flight attendants and the other coach passengers sure do.

It’s truly disgusting to be told, even when booking well ahead of time, to find that booking exit/bulkhead seats is impossible, and then upon boarding find normal sized people sitting there.

Can we create a social taboo that you should only sit in an emergency exit seat if you are tall?
The advent of charging for emergency exit seats means that any person regardless of height who want more room book them at the expense of tall people. Previously airline staff had some flexibility.

It really antagonizes me when I see people of small or moderate stature in these seats.

Let’s create a new social norm that these people are selfish and depriving those in genuine need of these seats!

I’m 6’9″ tall and 260 lbs. I fly roughly 100,000 miles a year mostly on United and American sometimes on Southwest. WIth status I was always able to get economy plus on United until they merged with Continental and they changed the rules. So now my loyalty with them gets me nothing.

There are times when I physically can not get down into the seat. My knees hit the seat in front of me and I can’t get into the seat. When I look over and see someone under 6′ in the exit row while I try to get into my seat makes me want to go ballistic. First of all height is not like fat, I can’t go on a diet and lose height. My being almost a foot taller than the average male insures that my sitting in the exit row will give me the same legroom as someone under 6′ has sitting in a regular seat. I’m not gaining any advantage over them. As far as people putting their seat back i flight, I simply inform them of my height and ask them nicely not to put their seat back as they are trying to get comfortable while I am just trying to survive. In 99% of the cases they comply. I’m sure being 6’9″ 260 lbs helps.

Extremely tall passengers should get priority over shorter passengers for exit row and bulkhead seating.

I have a similar issue with a different twist. I am 5’2. My husband is 6’6. We always try to get an exit row seat because he is simply miserable in the regular seats, and people glare at me for sitting with him (in my defense, I try to sit in the seat next to the door that encroaches on the leg room…) I completely agree that anyone that tall should not have to pay extra for the extra room, but what about their spouse/significant other? I do not like to fly, and I refuse to sit by myself, but he physically can’t sit in the regular seats without severe cramping and pain. I personally think that anyone over a certain height (6’5 ish) should be able to purchase the seats with more leg room (business class, etc.) for the cost of an economy ticket. I would pay the asking price to sit with him.

On that note, we are planning a trip to Italy next spring. Are there any suggestions on airlines/seating options where he can be comfortable? We can’t afford to pay more than 5 times the economy ticket price for first class, but I worry about him getting blood clots in the regular seats. This is our first trip overseas so I’m hoping to make it enjoyable for both of us.

I am 6’6 and will be flying from Japan to London in two weeks (13 hours flight)and I have a spinal disc herniation. I will be operate when back to France (I am french).
I m really worried about this flight…

This issue will never be resolved because freakishly tall guys think that us ‘above-average’ height people have nothing to complain about. I agree that I’m probably not AS uncomfortable as those folks but seats are not designed for me either. The last flight I took, I dropped something between my knees, when I bent over to pick it up I slammed my head on the seat in front of me, there was not enough room for me to reach the floor between my legs and I’m only 6’2″, with the window seat I didn’t even have a way to spread my legs, I was stiff for 2 days. If you freaks over 6’6″ want something to change maybe you should let us argue the point too, strength in numbers and all.

Richard Nicholl

Interesting comments and being 6’5″ I have experienced the problem so many times. The airlines will only act when they have been convicted by a court or by customers voting with their long legs. A class action is possible but difficult to organise and the airlines have much more money than us. This should be fought on health and safety grounds because of possibility of whiplash in the event of an accident or heavy landing.
A quicker way is to identify the sympathetic airlines and name and shame the hard liners.
As far as my experience goes here are my recommendations:
Best airline British Caledonian (in Mombassa airport the check in clerk walked down the queue and identified the tall people and offered them the exit seats – simple and no cost! Unfortunately this airline got swallowed by by BA.
Other top performers for tall people:
Air Pacific
Aeroflot
Qantas
Lufthansa
KLM
LAN Chile

Airlines to avoid:
British Airways
Air France
Thomas Cook Airlines

I would also invite a few airline CEO’s along and fit them in a seat scaled down to their size so they experience our situation. Then make them sit there for 10 hours, then we would get some action. The problem is getting worse as airlines use on line booking and their Regular Flyers take the leg room seats. Recently I had chosen in advance a bulkhead seat on a flight from Rio to Paris but was bumped off the seat as I was told a family with children needed it and no amount of protesting would change their decision, so I sat in the row behind squeezed in, looking at these kids dangling their legs in mid air, sound asleep for 10 hours while I suffered wide awake!

My husband and I just returned from Europe. He is 6’8″ or as he likes to say 5’20” (it gives people a different perspective). We always make every effort to arrive early to ask for emergency row/bulk head seats and I can’t tell you how often we are seated separately just so he can be comfortable. It is literally impossible for him to sit in a regular seat – he does not fit. The seats are narrower than ever, he can’t lower the tray and the person in front of him cannot put their seat back without causing him a permanent disability which also effects their comfort.

We have found kind and helpful people with every airline. We have even had flight crew request passengers switch seats with my husband when they see how ridiculous it is to expect him to be seated in a regular seat. We would love to win the lottery and be able to afford first class but since that is not in our foreseeable future we would love to see policy change.

Tips: British and American Airlines offer exit row and bulk head seating online 24 hours prior to your flight (if available) but will not let you make changes if you are outside the US. United is not as accommodating online but their staff have been great. Air France was very helpful and made sure I was seated with him. Turkish and Ethiopian Air were both very accommodating and changed our seats at check in.

Good luck to everyone with this endeavor. We definitely feel your pain (literally).

My partner is 6’6″ and he has terrible problems. Having seen how he suffers I believe this is an important health and safety issue. On these grounds it is astonishing that airlines are not compelled to make proper arrangments for very tall passengers, by offering the seats with extra legroom free of charge at the point of booking.

I sympathise with other tall people who also feel cramped and would like extra legroom. But the airlines aren’t going to increase the space between the seats as then they would fit less passengers on board and have to charge a lot more for a ticket, which would threaten their viability. The standard seat pitch has to be big enough to accommodate the vast majority of people. So it’s only the people that are far taller than average (maybe the tallest 2-3% of people) that they could do something for. I think that to be truly fair it would have to include their travel companions as well – maybe 1 per person – as otherwise they aren’t getting the same experience as other passengers.

Interesting question about whether the qualifying criterion should be height or leg length. Ideally it should be leg length, but the practicalities of measuring that mean it’s probably unworkable.

Good luck with this. It’s a very important issue.

It would be great to ask for an exit row. But now Airlines consider those “premium seats” and charge the first person willing to pay the extra $100 (Air NZ) The solution os to do what United has done and provide an Economy Plus area that has more pitch between seats. It is not business, but at 6’4″ I have never had a problem siting in those seats for a X-country flight. But Air NZ planes are made for the 5’4″ crowd. Horrible, painful and unsympathetic.

Jonathan

I’m pretty sure it is discrimination. But I have a solution, and it echoes much of what is being said here thus far. The exit an “+” seats should be provided free of charge to any passenger of height – starting with the tallest onboard the plane first. Naturally the seats are continually given to those of height in order of tallest to shortest. After the seats have been distributed to the above average (id say anyone over six two is above average, but let the numbers dictate instead of my opinion) customers then auction off the empty seats to those who would like the luxury o additional leg room. Because it is not a luxury to anyone who is tall, you could add 4 inches to the pitch an most of us would still be slightly uncomfortable but able to bear minimal unease. I’m only 6’4″, but I often sit next to my brother and sister who are 6’8″ and 6’1″ respectively. All those long legs in a row generate stares , but few willing to care that we aren’t as comfortable as you are crammed up together in the standard row. Seeing what my brother goes through I’d gladly give my seat to anyone taller than myself if I were in an exit row. I can suffer an isle seat and the awkward and startling game of footsie with the passenger in front of me. So my solution above seems like a reasonable proposal or we tall people can protest and should all tap our feet without knees in the bag of chairs and make discomfort equal amongst all… I’d prefer not to resort to that though. Humor aside, please let us too, enjoy our ride.

Jonathan

Free of fees not charge! Who would write such a stupid thing!

Hi there, i am 6’8′ myself, flying a lot from mostly Asia. I noticed that Chinese airlines are quiet cooperative when it comes to assigning suitable seats (exit row or bulkhead) to tall people.

Its hard to tell why especially US airlines are completely ignorant when it comes to using common sense in filling the planes.

What is most astonishing is the fact the IATA (International Air Transport Association) has a clear standard for transporting animals in planes.

Quote: “IATA Live Animals Regulations (LAR) is the global standard and the essential guide to transporting animals by air in a safe, humane and in a cost-effective manner.”

Here an extract regarding container sizes for animals: “IATA Live Animal Regulations 2012, page 1”

Size
Each animal contained in the container must have enough space to turn about normally while standing, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.

————————————————–

6’5″ here. If it wasn’t required for my job, I would never fly because of this issue. I am not as tall as some of the very tall folks in this comment thread, but I do have longer than average legs for my height. My wife is only 5’4, but when we are sitting there’s only a couple inches of height difference.

I would gladly pay an extra $50 to get an exit row or bulkhead seat, but I don’t always have that option. A few years ago I used to be able to beg and plead for these seats, but now they’re being sold off for a premium. I want to know why a lot these seats can’t even be booked unless you’re a “loyal” customer. I want to know why whenever I contact an airline’s customer service about this issue they never respond. I’m not asking for handouts, I just want reasonable accommodation. Paying for business class is not reasonable. Hell, sometimes there isn’t even a business class. Southwest has the same pitch on all their seats with the exception of the exit rows.

You know what, don’t get me started on Southwest. Their cattle call boarding policy is the worst for tall people. And good luck convincing one of those smug early boarders to give up their seat. I’ve even offered to buy people drinks in exchange for their seat with no luck.

Oh, but it’s great being tall, isn’t it?

Short people are jealous of tall people. FACT.

I’m 6’5″ and while airlines might be able to discriminate against us, tall men are better looking than short men and get way more women or men (if you are gay). So who laughs last? TALL MEN! I’ve beaten out shorter guys for dates, jobs, etc.

Airlines are a sick business. They are not consumer focused. I actually think they must hate their consumers. All they care about is making money.

Airlines should accommodate their passengers. No paying extra. The 5’2 shrimp can move his ass. Never in my life have I ever been treated worse than when I’m on an airline. Thankfully, flight attendants are scared of me when I give them “the look” and I always get an exit seat. This does help some, but not by much. I have an athletic, muscular build, 34 inch waist, 34 length pants. If I were overweight, I’d imagine being uncomfortable anyway, but being TALL and overweight must be even worse.

I feel horrible for anyone taller and bigger than me.

Theodora Simons

My son, who is 6’7″, flew from Paris to the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago and at the check-in was immediately offered an exit seat without even having to ask. Sadly I cannot now remember the name of the airline concerned.

I haven’t read right to the bottom of the thread, so someone may have mentioned this but… my husband is 6’6″ and struggles on flights, most flight crew have allowed him to sit in the emergency exits without paying the fee and they will charge me, which is fine. I’ll pay because I want to sit next to him, and would give it up for a taller person, but I don’ think he should have to pay because I don’t think from a safety point of view tall people should be crammed into seats. Have any tall folk requested to be placed in an emergency exit seat on the basis of if there was a need for it during the flight they would be unable to adopt the emergency brace position due to the lack of manoeuverability in the seat? Surely passenger safety should be put before profits and the flight crew should have to review whether a passenger should be moved off the emergency exit seat (or one with more leg room) to allow a tall person to be able to follow safety procedures in the event of an emergency? And if they have to move someone off the exit seat the airline should refund the cost someone has paid for the emergency seat. As far as I see it, airlines are putting profits before safety when it comes to tall people fitting in seats. They shouldnt be allowed to charge for extra legroom seats and go back to the old days when you requested the leg room seats and the flight crew made a judgement call using common sense.

I know Colby personally and while I am quite a bit shorter than he is, I have similar problems with airplane seating. I’m 5’3 and disabled from severe arthritis; both knees have been replaced. Consequently, I can only bend my knees 100 degrees. I need much more leg room than most people my height; it doesn’t help that I also get stiff when sitting in one position for extended periods of time. It is a problem for me, too, when the person in front reclines, yet I sometimes need to recline myself in order to relieve back pain. I cannot change these physical limitations, just as Colby and other tall people cannot change their height. Yet despite the ADA, I face pretty much the same booking problems and other difficulties described here, including the risk of blood clots. So please know that some of us shorter people may still need that extra leg room too. I have been avoiding airline travel for some years now, but I would prefer to have a realistic choice. I support the efforts to improve seating for tall people. Airlines need to do better at providing reasonable comfort and safety for the flying public as a whole, not just for some.

In case my previous post didn’t express it clearly enough, I fully support the efforts to improve airplane seating for tall people. It is a torture of sorts to fly so constrained.

I am 6’4″ now shrinking-was 6’6″ before. I don’t believe my legs shrunk down that much. I just came up from nearly a 6 hour flight on United sitting/standing in a regular economy seat. It was a brand new B737 and they changed pitch so much that I could seat only for 20 minutes during the take off and landing with a person in the seat in front of me screaming that I was kicking her in the back. My knees were so soar that could barely walk after the flight.
I think it is a direct discrimination against tall people. I am tall and thin (195 lbs) and nothing I can do with my height. I did not have any promlems flying in 80s and 90s and now it is getting nealy impossible. They are making us to pay for a premium seat not to be more comfortable like average people do, but to be able to seat.
I don’t know where it goes but some kind of regulation will be appropriate to equal rights of tall people on mordern aircrafts.

I would just like say, that clearly anyone in this forum that is posting is typically at least 6’1 or 6’2. The fact that they are here posting means they truly find typical economy seats uncomfortable with their knees in the back of the seats in front of them. I find it interesting that most people commenting designate the height cutoff 1 to 2 inches than their reported height. I certainly agree that anyone over 6’5 to 6’6 absolutely cannot fit in an economy seat. I am 6’3 with a 37″ inseam and while I can get into the seat, it is truly uncomfortable and causes me anxiety especially when sitting in a middle seat or window seat. And if the person in front of me reclines their seat it is unbearable. Typically I try to manage by at least booking an aisle seat. While it is still uncomfortable, I can usually manage to keep my leg position changing frequently to make it at as bearable as possible. I certainly have no problem with anyone taller than me having priority to a seat with extra leg room, however, at 6’3, if I am one of the taller people on the flight, I should also have priority to a seat with extra leg room. I would definitely support anyone over 6’0 or 6’1 getting priority over shorter passengers. I also agree that it is absolute discrimination to charge a taller person more for the same level of comfort as an average sized person that the plane seats were designed for. If overweight people don’t have to pay extra, tall people shouldn’t either.

Angel Fierro

At 6ft i find the experience of flying scary and the last time i flown was when i was about 16 yrs old and i was 5’8 at the time but i did have a horrible experience with someone leaning back and i couldn’t lean back. So now I’m flying after three years to D.C. from Houston, again. I know I’m not as tall as most other men and women but are there any tips for a gal like me who is an anxious flier who did end up getting one aisle seat but also a middle seat. I couldn’t choose my own seat since i was under a scholarship for my plane tickets. Any tips? I’d really appreciate them.

Thom Wright

Being one of those “to tall” guys, I heartily agree. Recently AA has made dealing with this almost impossible.

I understand that the airlines have their hands full but telling us when booking that dealing with this is the responsibility of the gate agent or the flight attendant seems really dumb.

Booking with air miles on mile saver awards, AA refuses to allow me in the bulkhead or exit row seats even at extra cost and even though they are available. Being an elite (gold) for life makes no difference.

So, I get on the plane then, after all the passengers have boarded, the flight attendant must inconvenience other passengers by asking them to move to accommodate me, something that could have been handled before anyone booked those seats. Way to go American, you really care about your service don’t you.

Jamie Thompson

Hi,

I am 6’9 and getting married in November and have a 12 hour flight for our honeymoon (AIR FRANCE), I am dreading it to say the least the last flight I was on was 10 hours and was lucky enough to get extra leg room (+£45 each way) but I was still in agony after only an hour as the head rest only comes half way up my back making it a very uncomfortable seat being hunched over(KLM)not to mention having to eat of a tray on my lap as the table couldnt go over my knees,legs.

Problem is Air France cant do anything for you if you are tall you just have to deal with it.

I would love so see this issue corrected as Its 100% a disability for us to fly in seats made for little people.

I am married to a man 6’8″ tall. he is 39″ inseam. We are retired and want to travel to europe and the far east. Is it impossible to do this? Before we got married i travelled on a couple river cruises for people over 55 years old. I’d love for him to experience travel, too. i felt like a sardine at 5’4″ . Can anyone recommend airlines for flights from las vegas to Amsterdam, and then Amsterdam to Prague to catch the river cruise? Or how about from Amsterdam on to Barcelona, or Swizterland to Paris , France then on home from France to Las Vegas.

I am 7ft1, 39″ inseam

One suggestion that worked for me at some airlines (Air France, KLM) – You can ask, after take off, to use the flight attendant seats (located near the emergency exits), it works for me

I am only 6ft but have 38 inch inseam. I am completely tortured on flights with my knees being dug into front seat, meanwhile my lower back is in a restrained knot. I have experienced pain for days after a long flight with forced seatbelt light. I think airlines should require people to be over a certain height for bulk head. Preferably leg length. 🙂 There is nothing worse than getting on the flight and seeing a small statured person sitting in the exit row. On a direct flight from London to San Diego the attendant actually moved me because I was pretzeled in. It was a major blessing…

We should start a change.org petition. The seats are Not getting any bigger..

Just saying

Simple solution. Just like the carnival rides: “you must be 6’4″ or taller to sit in the extra legroom seats”. Having sat in a cramped seat while looking over at some kid in the bulkhead seat and his feet don’t even reach the floor !! Arghhhh! We can’t help it if we’re tall. We need to address the ADA on this matter.

I’m going to say something for disabled passengers. I’m a full left leg amputee and a veteran. I don’t fly very often, but when I do, I expect to experience a modicum of comfort. I usually succeed, but there’ve been times when I didn’t. I’m 6’2″, and I prefer an isle seat with the bulkhead in front of me, because then no one can tilt their seatback in my face. I sympathize with those who have a problem with this, and I think the answer would be a redesign of seatbacks, such as a recessed back to perhaps a design of one inch thick without decreasing the padding for the person in the seat. This would mean maybe one more inch of knee room without the airlines’ having to add more seats to compensate.

I am currently in dispute with South African Airways because they charged me £75 extra for so-called Premium Seats in the bulkhead from London to Jo’burg. I’m 6’5″ and from experience know I can’t fit into standard economy seats for more than a couple of hours without pain & discomfort.

I’ve written twice to their Customer Care centre but twice their replies completely ignored the questions I asked about height and they just told me they had a right to charge extra for premium seats. The lack of any sort of empathy, compassion and understanding is astounding. I’ve told them I’m taking it further, but I don’t expect to get anywhere.

I’m 6 ft 7 and its all in my legs so I have real problems especially on long haul flights. I have found certain airlines to be more hospitable than others when requesting an exit seat. American Airlines definitely the easiest, just ask them at the gate as I think that’s where they allocate the seats. Some airlines I have managed to fit in ok… ish, I remember Singapore airlines being quite comfortable. Nowadays I would say I get a seat with extra legroom 8 out of 10 flights.

The main tips I would recommend would be:

Don’t EVER pay for an exit seat.
Check in as early as possible.
When asking for an exit seat be as courteous and friendly as you can while outlining your predicament.
NEVER be smarmy, act like a know it all with a lecture on deep vain thrombosis or start a heated discussion on how tall people should get extra legroom by default. Any kind of contempt you create will work against you.(I saw a guy who wasn’t that tall arguing for an exit seat using this method and failing miserably while I waltzed right into one.)
If they don’t allocate you a seat at check in, as soon as the gate opens go to the desk and ask again.

I’m a musician as well so I have to do all this while trying to get my guitar on as hand luggage but that’s another thread…

Fun and games.

Good luck!

sheila murray

I would like to thank everyone for sharing their flying tidbits for TALL passengers!

If it is an international flight- I pay for the extra leg room. Unfortunately, most airlines purposely do not provide the “seat Pitch” online, so a phone call is necessary to determine what is meant by “extra leg room;” which could be anywhere from a quarter of an inch or 6 inches (what a rarity; 6 inches more of leg room).

Arriving extra early (4 hours or more) has not proven to be lucky for me, because I am always told that the emergency row is booked.

Yes, I inquire at the luggage check in desk, at the gate, with the first flight attendant and any other flight attendants that I pass on my way to “misery seat.”

I remove all books/magazines out of the seat pocket. I grab two pillows and/or blankets to be used as knee cushions.

No, the person seated in the front of me is ABSOLUTELY NOT RECLINING ON MY LEGS!

Aisle seats are mandatory; but annoying to the flight attendants, because our legs are in the aisle; oh, well!

I wholeheartedly agree that TALL people are discriminated against not only by airlines, but all the other industries (automobiles/transportation, furniture, clothing, funeral caskets, housing, public facilities, even hospitals). Yes, I had surgery one time, and the hospital surgical table was too short for me.

Tom a Gagne

Its not just comfort, but safety. Someone that doesn’t fit into the seat endangers themselves and others. And look how high your head sticks up over the seat back. Tall persons are at higher risk for whiplash.

I believe in attempting politely, then begging and then demanding accommodation, in that order. My 6’6 husband is truly a gentle giant and hates rocking the boat, so I do so on his behalf. I have begged to upgrade his class and leave me in coach, to no avail. Often get the rude, jealous of tall people remarks. I watched a 5′ tall woman lean her seat back and literally stare into my husband’s face. Took a nap in his lap. SOO rude!!! Another flight, the 5’3 woman in front of him repeatedly slammed her chair into his knees, attempting to recline and complained to the attendant that she couldn’t recline. He showed the attendant and jerk passenger his leg position. The attendant apologized to the jerk! I fail to understand how our society can be so conscious of accommodating all manner of disability, religion, creed and gender orientation and yet neglect the very tall. I am 5’8 and am in pain during flights, so to husband, he must truly be suffering. I find the size of seats for everyone awful. Most recently a flight to London resulted in a $5000 difference between coach and business class. This is, without a doubt, discrimination. I do see the airline’s perspective re: profit though. Perhaps a reduced upgrade fee for the very tall, offered at check in? Something should be done.

Sherrie Saadeh

YES! My son is nearly 6’6″ and we are flying to Jordan in May. Other than scramble madly for exit seats hours before the flight, is there anything else we can do? Mom is also tall and full of arthritis so some roomier seats in economy would be welcome. Sure don’t want to see some 5 footers sitting in the exit seats while we sit cramped! Any help would be appreciated!

Graham

I’m ‘only’ 6’3″ and don’t really have major leg room issues. My problem is the seat backs are made for someone 5’6″ (IMHO). The headrest extends forward about 3″ and looks to comfortably fit people if the top of the head is the same height as the top of the seat. As my head is 6″ over the top of the seat, the headrest pushes my shoulders forward 3″ leaving most of my back unsupported. This becomes painful within about ten minutes in economy.
I am Australian, and I would guess 10% of the population would be over 6’2″ tall (the airlines would know the exact number). So I don’t know why they don’t make that percentage of seats with adjustable headrests and or more legroom. I would happily pay extra to lift the headrest and a small additional fee would pay the seats off in no time.
Take one row of seats out (say 30″), move ten rows of seats to fill the gap and you have 3″ more legroom. This should cost less than ten percent extra.
I wrote to the airline I use most.they didn’t bother to reply at all 🙁

RobertW

We should really get a class action lawsuit started. I’ve been traveling to AU 1 – 2 times a year from DEN on United. I’m 6’7″ with a 39″ inseam. My knees jam into the back of the seat in front before my butt hits the cushion. My remedy for the past 9 years is to buy into the whole Chase card thing and make sure that I get enough miles, then buy an economy ticket, pay an extra $1200 upgrade charge + 60,000 miles so that I can get into Business class. It’s a major pain. I could never sit in economy for the 15 hour flight from LAX to SYD. I’m not overweight, I’m tall. People can do something about being overweight but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about being 6’7″ with 39″ inseams. I’m really happy that the airlines are now making sh#tloads of profits. They are making it on my back. An ADA class action should be brought against them. Even if we don’t win, a major stink needs to be raised and a bit of egg needs to be thrown on the airlines faces.

Kasper Christiansen

I am 6’5″ Scandinavian guy, flying 1-3 times a month. I would not say that 6’5″ is abnormal tall, but tall af course. I simply can’t believe that we live in 2015 and there is so many problems associated with being tall… Well anyway 🙂 When flying I get issues with my knees and back even though I would consider myself rather fit.

I always ask/book/pay for aisle/emergency exit seats. But often they are given to “normal people” or even children. I am one of the tall people, who do NOT think that I deserve the better seat more just because I am tall, but I think there is an issue and lack of regulations when it comes to the seat pitch/space. It simply can be safe or healthy to sit for longer periods in a seat that as small as the economy class.

Some time ago I had the pleasure to fly norwegian.com from Paris to Copenhagen. I had an aisle seat.
This time I could simply not fit the seat. I could not believe it?? Every time the stewardess walked by with the food trolley I had to stand up. I found it kinda embarrassing.. My legs had to be in the aisle all the time because I couldn’t even pull my legs into my seat space or squeeze them into. The flight attendant really felt me this time and was pissed off with the ground personal because the emergency exit rows was full of kids (which I don’t think is legal in the EU).

I do not think the solution to any of this is to be pissed at the people who decline their seat or the short people that at sitting exit rows or the staff for that matter. Glad to read that many other feel the same way.

I always ask politely more than one time and sometimes it pays of. Best of luck to everybody who tries to get better seats!

* Remember the next best thing after emergency exits are the row just behind, because emergency seats do no decline – and they are often free to choose when booking.

Thank you to all for this string. I am 6’5″ and on a Southwest flight currently jammed in a standard exit row seat. Recently hit their Preferred level as I fly weekly. As I play the 24 hr ahead check in time, I can often get a A1-15 position and hope for the one or two seats with no seat in front of them. But today I am again experiencing the flaw in their A boarding system – thru passengers. And as usual, two people far under 6′ have moved and taken the seats. I have written to SW and they proudly claim its the glory of thier open seating policy. They won’t change nor will the others as it cannot be monetized to benefit them. Could share endless stories of miserable flights, but will just give my favorite – one flight from CA to DC and the woman in front causing such a major scene that she could not recline because of my knees and she had paid for a seat that could, the attendant requested the captain to start actions for a redirect destination landing to get rid of her.

I guess what really burns me is the people that take the exit rows. As I look over my should to a short woman with her legs stretched out (which could still happen in a regular seat) and a smug grin, I think of all the times seeing a teenager rocking away, 70 year old ladies whose feet do not hit the floor, and others that I really do not think would be useful in an emergency, I wonder what ever happen to common sense and courtesy. I have checked into class action suits and no one wants to take it on, and the airlines will only do something if it increases profit. So it is simply going to be a people issue. If enough people hear about the problems this causes then maybe others will stop thinking just about themselves only.

I will suggest to SW that when they are boarding passengers, they should include in their announcements to please keep in mind that some passengers require additional leg room so if you do not need it, please be courteous to those that do.

Going to end on a positive note as there is hope – a few weeks ago on a relatively short flight, a shorter woman who had the prized seat came and said “you can’t be comfortable in that seat and I really don’t need the leg room so I will switch if you would like”. I was so surprised that I hesitated for a moment thinking this really nice person should not be inconvenienced so told her it was very kind but it’s how the system works. She then said it is really no problem I am happy to help. So we switched and it really made my day. I thanked her again later and told her the world needs more people like her.

I’m 6’11” and have been flying for work for 8 years. The problem is that people just don’t understand that you can’t fit in a regular seat. I have the same issue at the rental car agency. This is the reason I use National, pick your own car. I spent an hour and a half at the Hertz desk to try and get a car that I fit in. It baffled the attendants why I couldn’t fit into a car. Same with the airlines. I think there has been a class action lawsuit in the past, but the airlines won.

I am 6’6″ and do fine coach uncomfortable especially on long haul, so you guys that are taller than me I have real sympathy on this one. The only airline that I’ve flown with that recognised my situation without my having to say a word was Emirates, the check in person commented on my height and said they’d seat me in an exit row. I do normally get to the check in 2 hours before, so this might have helped, but it was almost as if they had held these seats back for the likes of us tall people. Even if they hadn’t they made it feel that way and made me feel special. This was on a flight to Australia, so was very much appreciated.

I am now fortunate that I can afford to fly towards the front of the plane, but I still feel this problem should be recognised by all airlines. I fly quite a lot with Virgin, and I know previously I had to pay them extra to get a coach leg room seat, which other airlines do, which I think is disgraceful behaviour. I did gave an argument with the sales agent on the subject, but they had no sympathy for my situation.

As it happens I came across this post looking for something else linked to being tall, but wanted to add to the support on this subject and hopefully one day airlines will recognise this problem.

Eli roberts

just make a viable tall person section, considering how jam packed they already make airplanes, it would not be all that much more expensive than it already is and would actually make the airlines more money because taller people would then like travelling with them more.

Hahah! All the complainers under 6’7′ should be ashamed. Try flying at 7′ then go on your online rants. 6’2″ guy, you are ridiculous

Brad Heinz

So at 6’3″ and with lower back injury the only coach seats I will use are at least 32″ of pitch and suitable headrests available only on Virgin Am or Jet Blue. Any less, and I can’t walk off the plane w/o pain. What’s Alaska going to do to the Virgin aircraft. I ‘m on the West Coast, where Jet Blue has few flights. Good God I hate the Alaska takeover of Virgin.

Trey Taylor

I’m 7’4″ and were flying delta to Mexico. Its a 9 hour flight. What do I do for good seats. Please let me know asap

If you want to sit in an exit row, pay for an exit row like the rest of us. Those are extra-revenue seats for the airlines and there is no way they are going to give them up for free.

Bridger McKinney

I’m 6’9 and 18. When I was in the 6’2/3 range seats were quite uncomfortable but I can assure all you shorter tall guys that at 6’9 the seats are sooo much more painful. I’ve found that most airlines are willing to help if they have extra seats (I’ve been bumped up to first class a few times) but will not do anything for you if the plane is full. I recommend spending the extra $ to get a comfort plus seat, the extra room is worth it. But there’s really no way to escape the pain.

C. Hansson

Very interesting discussion. I notice that is started many ears ago, has there been no progress?
I’m 6’6 with unusually long legs so I´ve had my share of airplane suffering. Of course I try to get a seat by the emergency exit, but sometimes it’s just not possible.
Does anyone know if there has been any lawsuits? In my opinion it is a form of discrimination. I’m from Sweden myself, but it seems that you love to sue in the US, right? 😉

C. Hansson

“I notice that it was started many years ago” 🙂

I’m 6’8″ and I try not to fly if I can help it. This thread has been going on for a long time and these issues haven’t gotten any better.
I find it frustrating when people tell the tall to suck it up, or pay more.
We do!
The tall always pay more.
I would love to have gone into a Men’s Warehouse and bought two or three suits for a couple of hundred bucks. Doesn’t happen. Cars and trucks? Come on? Even when I can fit, it doesn’t feel good. Uncomfortable is an understatement. Then turn 40, have the knee surgery and you can’t sit (unless you have some amazing yoga flexibility).
I always try to get an exit row, or premium seating, or an aisle. Sometimes, you can’t. The difference between economy/economy+ to business or first class isn’t just a small upgrade. Those can be several hundred to almost $2000.
I would love to just see an airline for the tall. Or better designed airlines..
Oh, and as far a charging a wider person for two seats, they can’t sell tall people the seat in front of them and give them anymore room.

C. Hansson

Feel free to share, and comment on, this tweet. Maybe it could catch some attention. https://twitter.com/claes_hansson/status/995987254559608832

I am 6’6″, 230lb. I haven’t managed to bag an exit or bulkhead seat in about the last 2 dozen seats. My last flight I got a free extra legroom seat on JetBlue. They had requested volunteers to check their carry ons and since I already had a checked bag, that was no big deal for me. I was given the extra legroom seat before I got to ask!
I am wondering why nobody else has commented on seat width. My hips are 16″ wide, so my butt fits even the smallest seats just fine, but my shoulders are 21″ wide. This is usually an issue if I can’t hang out into the aisle (to get battered by trolleys).
My tips, wear shorts and t-shirt. Light clothes definitely help my comfort. Kicking my shoes off will lower my knees a little bit.
I find myself spending more and more time standing on flights.
Meanwhile, exit seats are often occupied by people whose feet don’t touch the floor.
Best vanilla seats are US Airways transatlantic Airbus. The CLT- heathrow one is now AA, but same seats. I don’t know about other AA planes.
After a horrendous experience on an AF 777, I will no longer book a 777 flight. I spent most of that flight standing.

Gewan Brown

I’m on a Delta flight right now and there is a ton of comfort plus seats available. As a guy whose 6’6” and just travelled 9 hours from Moscow to NY, I’d love to buy, purchase, upgrade to the more spacious seats (plenty available) but I’m told there is no way to do it. Really Delta?! I want to pay more and you can’t accommodate?! !? And I’m a loyal customer?!?!
What is the reason for that?! After a flight takes off people move around all the time without questions so it’s not a security issue. I buy chips and a drink, so it’s not a purchasing issue? What is it?! I wish I could lean my head against my seat but the seat stops at the base of my neck. Sounds like a whiplash safety issue to me. But still, I’m willing to pay for comfort and safety. Why didn’t I buy in the first place?! Did not show any availability. Bought for my outgoing trip. But didn’t show for return. Yet there sit all those vacant seats.

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