I got the exit seat on a transatlantic British Airways flight — and it completely changed my economy experience

  • I travel transatlantic often, so I normally book the cheapest economy flight – and seat – available.
  • A recent upgrade to the exit row on British Airways, which normally costs an extra £50 or $US75, completely changed my experience.
  • Here’s why it’s worth the extra cash.

As a Canadian living in London for the past five years, I have to take a lot of transatlantic flights to keep up with friends and family.

And, as this comes at a cost, this usually means looking for the cheapest flight – and seat – available when I need to travel, and I always fly economy.

On the return leg of my most recent roundtrip flight from London to Toronto with British Airways, I nearly cheered when I was given the option of taking an economy exit row seat for free as, for once, the plane wasn’t completely full.

An exit row seat normally costs a minimum of £50/€60/$US75 extra with BA, so I happily accepted – and it completely changed my economy experience. Here’s why.

No climbing over sleeping neighbours

I normally have to book an aisle seat so I can walk around as much as possible during the seven hours. However, when the aisle isn’t available, this becomes tricky – waking up sleeping neighbours so you can get out every hour or so is really not ideal (and makes easy enemies).

With the exit row, you skip this hurdle completely. There is no seat in front of you, so you can simply undo your belt and stand up.

There’s more leg room

With no seat in front of you to contend with – and plenty of open space – you can really stretch your legs out.

British airways exit seatAlison Millington / Business Insider

You can adjust your screen

With an exit row seat, the screen folds into the armrest of your seat – so you can completely put it away if you’re not watching anything, or you can position it where you’d like for the best possible viewing experience.

Your USB and headphones jacks, as well as the remote that allows you to control your TV screen and lights or call the cabin crew, are also all in your arm rest.

British airways exit seatAlison Millington / Business Insider

You get served first

When it comes to drinks and meal service, the cabin crew usually start with the first row in each section – meaning the exit row gets served first.

This is particularly great for those who like to sleep on a flight – you can order your glass of wine or collect your meal then kick back knowing you won’t be interrupted again.

British airways exit seatAli Millington / Business Insider

You have some wall storage

With most economy seats, you can just about fit a book, some headphones, and a water bottle into the seat pocket in front of you, if you’re lucky.

While there is no “pocket” for seats on the exit row, there is a small amount of wall storage beside the window seat. It’s technically meant for the whole row to use, but you’re better off booking the window seat so you can make sure you get first dibs.

British airways exit seatAlison Millington / Business Insider

All in all, this was the best economy experience I can remember. I got up and walked around plenty of times without disturbing anyone, received drinks and meals ahead of the rest of the cabin, and even managed to sleep, feeling more comfortable than normal with the extra leg room.

Definitely worth shelling out an extra £50 or $US75 for – something I plan to do from now on.

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