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10 tips for long-legged flyers

This came during my recent trip to the Philippines:

I read lots of clickbait titles like "3 things every flyer should do before take off" and "Never drink this on a flight" and "Why you should never attempt to open an outside door while in flight" - I am usually pretty disappointed that rarely, if ever, I learn anything new. 

I am 6' 3 1/2" tall with a 34 inch inseam. Modern airline seats are designed for people whose legs have been amputated - at the waist. So finding leg room for a long flight is important. Having flown that many miles over the years, I hope have some experience that maybe helpful to we taller type travelers. So here are...

10 things tall people can do to make their flights more comfortable.

  1. Take of your shoes. Wear slip-ons. Slip them off and put them in the overhead bin. Wear heavy socks. Try not to step in any wet spots in the lavatories. You gain the thickness of your soles and heels in leg room without your shoes.
  2. Remove everything from the seat pocket in front of you. Take out the magazines and barf bag and whatever garbage the last passenger may have left and stuff it either in the seat beside you (most likely your neighbor will be shorter than you) or toss it in the overhead. Next to your shoes. You get the thickness of the catalogs back in leg room.
  3. Put your bag under your knees not under the seat. On take off your carry on must go under the seat, but after that it can go righ against your seat under your knees. More room for you feet to move around under the seat in front of you is the happy result.
  4. Sit by a window. Three advantages: Your knee sticking in the aisle while asleep won't get whacked by the drink cart. You can rest your head against the window. You get to bother your seat mate when you have to get up.
  5. Don't recline. While this seems counter-intuitive, it seems to me that when your seat goes back, your butt moves forward, thus shortening your leg room. At least in some planes.
  6. Get an exit row or book Economy Comfort. It's going to cost you, but sometimes paying a little extra for Economy Comfort (what Delta calls it) or for an exit row, may be worth the $$$. I do it on long flights when I am feeling rich. Which is not that often.
  7. Hope no one sits beside you so you can extend your legs into the next space. Ah, the days when entire rows in the back of the plane were empty and you could lay down like you were home on the couch. Today's flights are nearly always full - damn algorithms! You can increase your odds by sitting as far back in the plane as possible and choosing, online, a seat in a row that looks empty shortly before the flight. Good luck.
  8. Hope anyone sitting beside you is not real wide or real tall. Good luck with that. I always ask to be put near a crying baby when I get the chance too.
  9. Get up and stretch regularly. This doesn't help leg room, but it can alleviate some of the problems a lack of leg room can cause. Stretching is good. Stand around a little. Just don't look threatening.
  10. Repeat the mantra: I am not on a sailing ship. I am not in a covered wagon. I am not on a bus. I am not having to drive. Complaining about leg room on a flight that takes you half way around the world in less than 24 hours is truly a first world problem. Be amazed and grateful at just how little discomfort and for what a small amount of time is involved in seeing amazing things and having wonderful adventures.

Hoping to rack up my next million miles before my membership and I expire.

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Reader Comments (4)

You're like George Clooney in Up in the Air!!

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

My husband is 6' 8" and sometimes when we are checking in they just give him the emergency exit seat when they see how tall he is. Because of this, I choose a seat we have to pay for.

February 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFaye Friesen


Yes, JUST like George Clooney - only better looking.


So, Faye, if I were taller I would be treated better? Good for your husband!


February 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Two to add - (1) if the bulkhead seat is open, I always sit in it as soon as possible. About half of the time it is open. (2) Sit in the emergency exit seat if it is open. Same as above. I one time asked a steward of they needed someone in that row (and that I am a first responder) and I got it...

February 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

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