Does romance pale when lust for legroom is involved?

by Charlie Leocha on May 31, 2012


The current brouhaha over families sitting together has generated some interesting comments regarding what families are entitled to and have some couples confessing that after 10 years of marriage, sitting together on a long-range flight isn’t as important as legroom. When she wants a window seat and he wants an aisle seat love ain’t gonna’ keep that couple together unless they find an aisle with only two seats abreast.

Some passengers actually choose their flights based on the plane flying the route. They want a 2-3-2 configuration found on Boeing 767s or the McDonnell 2-3 seat layouts or the Airbus 330 that features 2-4-2 layouts or 2-2-2 seating arrangements so that they can get two seats together.

In the ConsumerTraveler comments in the column about 7 ways to keep families together on flights one of the comments was:

…being married for 10 years, we now split ourselves to window and aisle (NOT conversing over the middle seat, we’re not that rude – many middle-seat pax are surprised to find out we’re married as we’re leaving the plane), or find the flights that have a 2-seat configuration on at least one side of an aisle. Apparently romance dies when legroom is involved ;)

Maybe romance does die.

Personally, on a flight back from Brussels, only last month, my significant other decided well after I had already made my reservations to meet me in Belgium where I had meetings with European Union transportation consumer advocates. Though we arrived on separate flights — she flew into Brussels from Dulles and I came in from Geneva — we planned to fly home together.

However, when it came to the decision to give up my prime and very coveted seat 21H in the second row of coach on a Boeing 777 that had loads of legroom in the midst of the Premium Economy section, but priced as a normal coach seat (I was amazed). She chose a window seat way back in row 41 against the right side of the aircraft — cramped, in the back of the plane, suffering form constant pedestrian traffic on the way to the restrooms and the galley.

Early on, we realized that romance was not going to enter into these decisions. In fact, she was just as pleased not having me sitting next to her going through newspapers and ripping articles out of magazines and making comments about the movies as I was being able to stretch out in the front of the plane.

Sometimes, legroom is the most important currency. A transatlantic flight is one of those times.

Even worse, when we arrived at Dulles, I zipped through customs and immigration using my Global Entry membership and she stood in the normal, zigzag passport control lines. After all was said and done, it didn’t make any difference because the luggage took almost a half-hour to show up on the belt.

OK, in these two cases couples have clearly opted for legroom and comfort over cuddly romance. What about those who can’t help themselves — honeymooners or twenty-somethings “in Love.” Maybe you?

One flight attendant commenting on posted:

Try going on your HoneyMoon and your seats are not together! ALOT of couples go on vacation, but the seating on the aircraft is usually 3 and 3. So, that reduces the amount of people that can have seats together as a couple. There’s going to be alot of SINGLE SEATS. But, who goes on vacation by themselves? Not too many. Use Bermuda as an example.

Romance in these instances is still a powerful factor. Testosterone is powerful motivator, maybe as powerful for a short time as a mother-child bond. Should these lovers get special treatment that Senator Schumer is calling for when it comes to families?

It is food for thought.

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  • Joelw

    My wife and I have been married for 54 years and rarely sit together on a plane. I like to read and sleep while she likes to chat, so we usually choose aisles across from each other if we can.

  • Anonymous

    Heh – as the author of the original comment, I’m going to say that for long haul, we do choose to splurge on seats with leg room together.  I was talking about our habitual 2-4 hour flights across the US (for business or family visits).  After a bad flight in my 20′s, I’m not so much a nervous flyer, but I am a restless one.  I read, I listen to music, I watch a movie, I sometimes stretch my legs with a walk own the aisle, but I rarely fully relax.  My husband, though, is asleep before takeoff and sometimes wakes up before we start our descent. So even when we do sit together, there is little conversation.

    So we have determined that our love can survive that long, especially since we usually chill together in the Sky Club before our flight.  But it took several flights where I came off the plane limping when I was in the middle seat (or I had to intrude on his space to avoid doing so) for my husband to realize we could save affection for off-plane time.  Which I’m sure our seat neighbors appreciate anyway ;)

    But we’re planning on a Europe trip in a few years for a landmark occasion, and have already earmarked cash for business class seats together.  We actually travel well together, but recognize that with the state of air travel in the US these days, we’d both rather be comfortable so we’re not grouchy with each other :)

    As for our honeymoon?  We drove. ;)

  • DCTA

    I’ll often assign  honeymooners A/C or D/F seats on their flights and about 1/4 of the time I’ll get a call – “…but we want to sit together…”  I will quickly explain that they will – either no one will sit between them, which will feel “luxurious” or that they will offer the window or aisle to the person who does show up assigned between them.  Depending upon time of year and/or city pairs, they almost always end up with the extra space…

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