Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Travel Topics > Air Travel
Reload this Page >

Buying 5 coach seats instead of 2 business class

Buying 5 coach seats instead of 2 business class

Jun 25th, 2004, 04:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 507
Buying 5 coach seats instead of 2 business class

I have toyed with the idea of buying a whole center row of seats for my husband and me. 2 business class are way more than 5 econos. But I find the seat configuration does not always fit the ones on seatguru.com or even what the airlines tell you. If 2-5-2 suddenly becomes 3-4-3, it becomes not quite what was expected. And sometimes seat assignments get changed. Despite 6 months ahead reservations, my family of 6 all reserved together became a far flung family all over the plane. This involved children on a transatlantic flight. Complaints brought nothing but "see if you can get someone to trade with you." And if they overbook, you might really cause trouble when they go begging for volunteers & there we sit with 3 empty seats between us.
So, has anyone ever tried this & won or lost?
janeg is offline  
Jun 25th, 2004, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 308
I don't think it will work, you could only check in once for each of you and the remaining seats would appear as no shows subject to reassignment.

I'm thinking you would never convince a gate agent what you are doing is legit.
Spokaneman is offline  
Jun 25th, 2004, 07:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 507
No shows? They let, or even make, large folks buy 2 seats. And cellists buy a seat for their beloved instruments. But thanks for your input.
janeg is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 02:29 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 861
Has it occured to you that the main benefit of bus. class is more leg room,5 seats in coach doesn't help that.
mgmargate is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 06:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,658
This is a very interesting idea. It sounds like you have really thought it through because you mention a number of reasons why it might not work. You are correct that the configuration of the plane could be different from what you expected, especially since they have a right to change aircraft as needed.

Have you asked this question to the airline? I'm curious as to what they would say or how accomodating they would be.
P_M is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,711
janeg....You dont say where you are going...But American Express has a large selection of 2-for-1 Business Class fares using the Amex Platinum Card.If you dont have the card, IMHO, it is worth the $300 or so fee to get one, buy the 2-for-1 and ditch the card.Also, many airlines offer discount business class fares which might work.Finally there is a wide selction of airline consolidators.Buying extra seats to remain empty might pose a prob on a full flight.Might you spend most of the flight fending off fellow passnegers looking for more room themselves?Good Luck!
BeachBoi is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
My parents travel long distance all the time (IAH-EWR-HKG is close to 10,000miles each way). And buying a row of seats (even if permitted) isn't THAT good a deal anyways. Here are the reasons why:

1. Like mgmargate says, you still don't get the extra legroom. There's really no comfortable way to stretch out, unless you lay flat on the seat. For that, you need to buy 4 seats for each person, which won't work if there are no 4-across seats. [And imagine that the plane is totally full, and having to explain to people around you that "Sorry, but we paid for these 8 seats. No, you can't seat here." throughout your flight.]

2. Basically, if you're generally okay with coach-class travel, buying more seats around you isn't going to give you a lot of comfort, as long as neither of you is stuck in a middle seat; or have to climb over people or have people climbed over you to get out. [Or if you and your husband really have poor relationship, but are forced to travel together - which I hope isn't the case.]

3. Do you really want to eat that many economy-class food?

Anyways, me and others have already answered in the Europe board, but if you're flying to Europe, I'll expand your options:

1. "World Traveller Plus" from British Airways and "Premium Economy" from Virgin Atlantic are products that are between economy and business, and are priced accordingly. They have wider seats and more legroom - comparable to many airlines' business or domestic first product.

2. Continental Airlines have fare sale for summer travel in BusinessFirst, which has 170-degree flat seats, etc... For about $2,000 before end of August to Europe, I believe.

3. If you decide to stay in coach, AA (except BOS-MAN in a 757) have more legroom than most, so does USAir's A330 services. Or if you have status with United (or probably buy a high-fare coach ticket and beg), you can get the "Economy Plus" cabin, again with more legroom.

I'll also say something about airline seat configuration. Most airlines flying across the Atlantic do not change the type of equipment use. The type of economy class seatings you'll find across the Atlantic are:
A330/340: 2-4-2
747: 3-4-3
757: 3-3
767: 2-3-2
777: varied

UA and AA's 777 are 2-5-2
Emirates (JFK-LGW) is 3-4-3! 10 seats, meaning less room. [Same for China Southern, but they don't fly across the Atlantic.]
Egyptair: 3-4-2 (not sure if their 777 is used for N. American service)
Delta: it's the only airline with two types of seating on their 777. Older ones are 2-5-2, newer ones 3-3-3.
All others: 3-3-3

If two of you are flying, just getting a pair of seats on the side of the plane on a 767, 330/340, or 777 (with 2-5-2) seating is quite comfortable. If it's a 747, then you can get either a pair in the center section, or if the airline let you, get a window and an aisle on the side, and hope that nobody will book the center seat. Similar idea on 777 with a 3-3-3 seating.

Again, it really helps if you have status with an airline. When my parents travel together on CO's 777, then always get 3 seats for the two of them near the front, and over the last 2-3 years for like 6-7 roundtrips, they have yet to give up that extra space, even when the plane is 97% full.
rkkwan is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 08:43 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 507
Thanks for all the info. And yes, of course, I realize I am not buying extra legroom with my idea. But my question was "So, has anyone ever tried this & won or lost?" Guess not. As far as all the airline choices, we are really stuck with Delta, Delta & Delta. Unless we drive to or change airlines in Atlanta. Since we end up about half the time being put up overnight by Delta in the Altanta or Miami airport because our international flight was late, I fear the last leg back to Tallahssee, will end up on us.
janeg is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 117
It is possible to get those extra seats if you specify that you require the extra space for "personal comfort" (ie, you are fat). This ensures that the extra seats will not be listed as no-shows and will not be dispersed throughout the aircraft. The way to go about doing this (at least with British Airways) is to make one reservation for yourself and husband and then contact the airline direct for the extra seat. BA's policy is that you pay whatever fare you have already paid for the extra seat minus the taxes.

But as said above, unless you are a fatty and physically cannot fit into one seat, this is a bit of a pointless idea as the only way to guarantee extra space is to pay for it in a higher cabin.

And if the flight is overbooked, how would you feel if you got bumped off a flight because some selfish person had booked two seats all for themselves? You'd be fuming and more than peeved!

If a family onboard the plane happens to be dispersed, it could make for an uncomfortable flight if you keep that family split up by not allowing them to sit in your spare seats.

All in all, it's a bad idea and waste of your money. It's more than possible to do, but just silly!
cosmic_toadstool is offline  
Jun 28th, 2004, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 184
Although I am dubious of how much more comfort you'd get vis a vis a business class seat I think that if you were a. lucky and b. specific with the airline you could actually do it. It might help to also do it through a travel agent. Regarding reasons, it doesn't necessarily mean "being fat" what if you have a bum leg and you want to stretch it out across three seats? It sounds reasonable to me. As for bumped people and separated families, well, if a person pays for five seats, they are their seats period. Feeling bad shouldn't enter into it.
wills is offline  
Jun 28th, 2004, 02:54 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,032
>if a person pays for five seats, they are their seats period

The problem is the airlines don't necessarily think the same. One would think that if one bought a roundtrip ticket one would have the right not to use the return part. Or one could not take one intermediate flight and not have the airline cancel the rest.

No, unfortunately, the airlines are not as rational as one would think
NoFlyZone is offline  
Jul 1st, 2004, 08:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
I've been on Flights (think it was American, but not sure) when there were professional athletes on a basketball team flying...they didn't have enough first class seats for the whole team, so they bought 3 seats for each of the team members stuck in coach. Somehow the airline did make and honor this deal. So the CAN sell and block seats if they want to...

Now I'm not sure it is economically feasible or wise, but if interested it makes sense to check with an airline. And frankly, 2 people who know each other might get comfortable sleeping across 5 and perhaps even 4 seats if they are short.

On an overnight flight, sleeping flat is often more comfortable than sit/sleeping in bus class...unless you are in a flat-sleeper bus class seat such as BA offers...
tashak is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 673
I know a couple who routinely books 2 seats per party. I can't remember the exact wording, but it's something like "passenger plus" or some such. It's used all the time for people carrying delicate instruments and the overweight. You have to do this over the telephone, not online and. Your boarding pass will indicate that you are to occupy 2 seats.

The only drawback is that as a couple, you could get split up if they do change equipment, but each of you would have 2 seats together. So far, they've either gotten 4 together in the middle or across the aisle from each other.

ABout the Amex 2fer thing, yeah we tried that too. Only problem is it only applies to the gateway city, like JFK or Altanta, etc. If you have to travel from another city they won't book your whole route as one. So you would have to recheck bags, etc.
Plus, the fares are outrageous. $6 to 8 grand, plus the connecting city. We just booked a sale fare on Delta for $2000 each. (2X 2000 is a heck of a lot better than 1x6000.)
Linda431 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2004, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 673
Addendum to the above "We just booked a sale fare on Delta for $2000 each. (2X 2000 is a heck of a lot better than 1x6000.)"

I just priced the same tickets from MSY to Paris, same dates etc. (Delta Business Elite)and they're now selling for $7400.00. EACH.

Linda431 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:34 AM.