Let’s face it: Flying in economy sucks. From fighting over armrests, to cramming your legs into the minuscule space between your seat and the one in front of you, to sitting in-between a yippy dog and a fussy baby, there is always something to make your flight miserable. Thankfully, many US domestic airlines are now offering “economy plus” seats. While they won’t prevent you from sitting next to someone annoying, they can bring back a bit of civility to the airline economy experience. A common thread between each of the following options is increased legroom, allowing you to spread out and get comfortable. Some programs even offer expedited security lines, letting you breeze past the majority of the line at TSA and taking some of the headache out of the security screening process. All of that and it usually costs less than $100 for the upgrade.
Home Airport: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Best In-Flight Perks: If you are looking for the best in-flight offerings short of upgrading to first class, Delta’s Comfort+ is the way to go. Premium snacks are complimentary as are beer, wine and spirits on flights over 250 miles.
Food: Complimentary premium snacks on most flights; meal service on most long-haul international fights; complimentary Luvo sandwich wrap on flights between JFK and LAX or SFO.
Beverages: Complimentary beer, wine and spirits on flights over 250 miles.
Additional Legroom: 4 inches
Other Perks: Sky Priority boarding; Diamond or Platinum Medallion members get complimentary Delta Comfort+ upgrades.
Sample Fare: New York to Atlanta from $328 | Book Now: delta.com
JetBlue Even More Space
Home Airport: John F. Kennedy International Airport
Best Pre-Flight Perk: If you’re the type of person who gets to the airport 30 minutes before boarding, choose JetBlue’s Even More Space. It comes with JetBlue’s Even More Speed expedited security line, allowing you to breeze through security and catch your flight.
Additional Legroom: ~4 inches
Other Perks: Access to the Even More Speed expedited security line; passengers that qualify for Mosaic can redeem their points for Even More Space seats at significantly reduced rates.
Sample Fare: New York to San Francisco from $219 | Book Now: jetblue.com
United Economy Plus
Home Airport: George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Best for MileagePlus Members: While United’s Economy Plus perks are certainly not the best in the skies, it does offer five to six inches of additional legroom and offers the best benefits to members of its MileagePlus program.
Additional Legroom: 5-6 inches
Other Perks: MileagePlus Premier Platinum members and higher receive complimentary access to the Economy Plus section for themselves and up to eight friends. Premier Gold members receive complimentary access for themselves and one companion. Premier Silver members receive complimentary space-available access to Economy Plus for themselves and one companion at check-in.
Sample Fare: New York to Houston from $552 | Book Now: united.com
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra
Home Airport: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Standard Offering: American Airlines’s Main Cabin Extra offering is more or less a standard “economy plus” offering. Extra legroom and group-one boarding are offered, but nothing more than that.
Additional Legroom: Up to 6 inches
Other Perks: Group-one boarding; Main Cabin Extra seats are complimentary for AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum, Oneworld Sapphire and Oneworld Emerald members. AAdvantage Gold and Oneworld Ruby members can purchase Main Cabin Extra seats for half off or be granted a complimentary upgrade within 24 hours of departure when seats are available.
Sample Fare: New York to Dallas from $219 | Book Now: aa.com
Alaska Airlines Preferred Plus
Home Airport: Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
Most Affordable: Though Alaska Airlines’s Preferred Plus seats are essentially just exit row and bulkhead seats, they do offer the most space on our list and also include a complimentary cocktail, glass of wine or beer — starting at just $15.
Beverages: One complimentary cocktail, glass of wine or beer.
Additional Legroom: 7-9 inches
Other Perks: Priority boarding; MVP-status members receive priority upgrades. MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K receive complimentary Delta Comfort+ seats when flying Delta.
Sample Fare: New York to Seattle from $139 | Book Now: alaskaair.com
Virgin America Main Cabin Select
Home Airport: Los Angeles International Airport
Best Service: Virgin America is known to have some of the best service in the skies and their Main Cabin Select option only further enhances it. Though it is also available in economy, Virgin’s entertainment system offers the ability to send a drink to someone in another seat and also allows you to open a chat with that person. If you are single, Virgin might be your best bet for meeting your soulmate at 36,000 feet.
Food: Complimentary snacks. Some premium items are excluded.
Beverages: Complimentary beverages. Some premium items are excluded.
Additional Legroom: 6 inches
Other Perks: Priority boarding, priority security and one complimentary checked bag. Complimentary upgrades for Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver members.
Sample Fare: New York to Los Angeles from $449 | Book Now: virginamerica.com
Editor’s Note: To come up with a sample fare for each “economy plus” option, we used each airline’s booking tool on their website. We then chose a date one month away from time of writing. We selected a one way ticket from New York to the airline’s hub. (In the case of JetBlue, because their hub is in New York, we picked a flight to San Francisco because it is one of their more popular routes.)
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