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Most fliers would pay to avoid a middle seat on a long flight

May 19, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • More than half of fliers say they'd pay for extra legroom on flights longer than three hours, a new study says. Above, United Airlines business class passengers fly to Hawaii.
More than half of fliers say they'd pay for extra legroom on flights… (Richard Derk )

Most of us will put up with a cramped middle seat on a short flight. But on trips more than three hours long, we are ready to crack open our wallets and pay for a window or aisle seat. 

That is one of the findings of a recent Harris Interactive poll of 2,276 adults on the subject of airline pet peeves and passenger fees.

On flights shorter than two hours, 33% of those surveyed said they would pay for extra legroom. If the flight lasts more than three hours, 58% said they would be willing to pay. Thirteen percent said they'd pay more than $25.

But even if fliers are willing to pay the fees, they won't necessarily be happy about it.

Creed Mamikunian, a doctor from Anchorage, describes all airline fees as ridiculous and offensive. “I would rather they charge an honest price and have most things included, not this a la carte price structure,” he said.

As for pet peeves, the survey found that 63% of fliers would rather sit next to a crying baby than a smelly adult. When asked, 13% said they would prefer a plane with a child-free zone.

Michael Ernstoff, an apartment manager from Los Angeles, likes the idea of segregating children on planes.

“Parents with ill-behaved children should be placed in the baggage compartment,” he said. “I'm guessing that I might pay as much as 10% more to be on an adult-only flight.”

Still, he said, such a plan might not work: “Too many people over 21 don't behave like adults, so segregating the adults can be difficult.”

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