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Spacing Out

How to avoid the big squeeze on your next business flight

This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

To avoid a sardine-like experience on your next airline flight, take this advice for finding a roomier ride during the peak holiday travel season:

  • Pick your seat. Confirm your seat assignment when making your reservation. If you let a computer or a busy gate agent do the choosing for you, you'll likely end up with a dud seat. Dud seats include aisle seats near lavatories, seats too close to the movie screen, "window" seats next to a wall with no windows, seats that don't recline, or middle seats at the back of the plane.
  • Go for the exit row. Exit-row seats, typically in the middle of the coach cabin over the wings, offer more legroom than any other type. However, these spacious seats are usually not available for booking until you arrive at the airport and can prove that you speak English and are physically able to open the emergency door. (Some airlines allow frequent fliers to reserve them ahead of time.) When checking in, always ask if an exit-row seat is available.

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