The glory of lie-flat coach seating

As airlines invest heavily in improving their business-class product, updating the seats to be fully flat for the most comfortable sleep possible, there is an often overlooked segment of the market that has great potential for both the customer and the customer’s pocket – lie-flat coach seating.  Of course, this is rather difficult to come by, but having just awakened from a solid 6 hours of sleep on my flight from Newark to Paris I have to say that lie-flat coach seating is quite underrated.

When we boarded the flight as some of the first passenger in coach we were already in pretty good shape seating-wise.  We’d booked the aisle and window seats in the reclining exit row of the Continental 757-200.  These are some of the best coach seats available in the fleet, with full recline, extra legroom and no one reclining into you.  There was no one booked into the middle seat between us.  Score!  I made one last check of the seat map to ensure that we still had the middle seat available and noticed a phenomenal sight – all three seats in the row in front of us were empty.  So we split up, each taking a set of three.

Defending the full three seats is not as easy as it would seem.  One gentleman across the aisle tried to take mine while I went to the lav and another guy tried to take the window seat that was clearly not his.  Fortunately we were able to fend them off and maintain our beds in the sky.

Setting up a lie-flat coach bed requires a bit of work.  You have to manipulate the pillows and blankets just so to avoid the metal of the arm rests digging into your side or back and also to properly support your head against the wall of the plane.  And having a seat belt extender works wonders for making the sleeping position much more comfortable.

I’d still prefer true lie-flat beds in coach like this one:

But since that seems highly unlikely I guess I’ll have to just hope for more empty coach rows.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. How do you go about defending your seats?

    Hypothetically speaking, if you had a row of three to yourself, and the row in front of you was completely filled, it would seem difficult to argue that the middle guy can't have the window or aisle in your row. I am not sure that most FAs would buy an "I was here first" argument. And if you were in the completely filled row (even if in the aisle or window seat), you'd probably also love to see your middle man disappear 🙂

  2. Indeed, I would not attempt to defend 3 empty against a full 3. But if the other row only has 2 seats taken and I have three for myself I have no problem explaining that I'm going to keep my three and they can still share like they were before.

    The guy in front of us (14ABC) also ended up with a full row to himself thanks to the Flight Attendant moving an unaccompanied minor from the window to 8E between two other passengers. Had I been one of those two I'd have been pretty annoyed at that.

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