Tag Archives: frequent flyer

Upgrading the Coach Flying Experience

The well-traveled Johnny Jet shares a few tips

Johnny Jet (dark shirt, left) in an aisle seat with maximum legroom for "almost first class" comfort in coach.
Johnny Jet (dark shirt, left) in his  aisle seat with maximum legroom for “almost first class” comfort in coach.

Johnny Jet is the name of a travel website chock full of deals, advice and travel experiences. Johnny Jet is also the not-so-secret pseudonym of John DiScala, who logs roughly 150,000 miles in the skies and visits some 20 countries every year to research content for his site. You’d think that all airlines would upgrade him to the front cabin every time he flies. But he too has been relegated to crowded coach.

He isn’t any happier than the rest of us when jammed into the back cabin of the plane. In fact, being accustomed to the finer flights in life, he is even less happy, and he has found other frequent fliers share his dislike for coach/economy. He has coined a word to describe the emotion the back of the plane stirs up in people like himself: econophobia. It occurs, he writes, “when one grows up spoiled or becomes an elite member of an airline’s frequent flier program. The latter gets used to perks like free or heavily discounted upgrades.”

I was intrigued by a recent Johnny Jet post: “How to Make Coach Feel Like First Class.” Hyperbole? Perhaps. But also good, sound advice from one who knows. He has identified “six ways to get the best coach seat on the airplane. 1) The easiest, at least for people who fly often, is to gain elite status — usually attained at 25,000 miles a year. 2)  Keep checking online seating charts in the event that a better seat opens up, and print out your boarding pass when you have the best possible seat. 3) Set up seat alerts via ExpertFlyer.com (free for a single alert, 99¢ thereafter), an online service withlots of useful information for both frequent or occasional air travelers.

4) Be willing to pay extra for additional legroom or even just to move forward in the cabin. 5) He suggests being super friendly to the gate agent when inquiring about the possibility of a better seat. I’ve met Johnny several times and seen him on TV, and one look at his broad, engaging smile indicates that he radiates friendliness. Maybe I’ll practice in front of the mirror. 6) Finally, the man with the terrific travel site uses other sites, specifically SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com, for searchable aircraft configurations and highlights of the best seats in the plane. I’ve paraphrased all this, so go to JohnnyJet.com for more details on his tactics.