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Give me some space!

TRAVEL TIPS

Travel a lot on business? "Comfort" is a word you probably don't associate with coach airline travel. In response to increased complaints about cramped conditions, both United and American unveiled enhanced coach seating to bring back some level of comfort.

United removed several rows of seats to create "Economy Plus" seating in the first 6 to 11 rows of coach, providing approximately 21,000 seats, each with 5 inches of additional legroom. The space between a seat and the one in front of it is now about 36 inches, up from an industry average of just 31 inches.

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Unfortunately for some, the Economy Plus seats are reserved for elite frequent travelers and those paying full-fare coach. American, however, has removed several rows from the main cabin to provide slightly more legroom for everyone in coach. As of mid-May, American had completed the renovation of 308 planes, or about 44 percent of its fleet.

While the seating is not as spacious as first class, not being able to get that coveted upgrade is a bit easier to take. A quick check of the other major airline's Web sites did not reveal any plans for improving their coach seating space. However, if the increased legroom appears to give United and American a competitive edge, the others are likely to follow.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society