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Coach-Class Perks: Is Anything Still ‘Free’?

American recently announced it will charge a premium for seats located in the front of coach, thus providing customers an easy exit from the plane. The new perk is just the latest in a growing trend of airlines charging extra for ordinary or, in some cases, slightly upgraded coach seats.

Here’s a rundown of who charges what, and what your money buys:

AirTran: Advance seat selection is $6, and exit row seating is $20.

Allegiant: Advance seat selection is $11 per segment.

American: Express Seats put you in the first few rows of coach (regular coach seats) at a cost of between $19 and $39. Also includes early boarding privilege.

Continental: Exit row seating is available; price varies.

Frontier: Stretch seating, which provides an extra five inches of legroom, costs between $15 and $25 depending on your economy tier.

JetBlue: Even More Legroom option provides 38 inches of legroom, compared to the airline’s standard 34 inches, starting at $10 per flight leg.

Spirit: Big Front Seat, with 36 or 37 inches of legroom, compared to Spirit’s normal (and paltry) 28 to 31 inches, from $25. Spirit also charges for advance seat selection, starting at $8 in the rear of the plane, $12 in the middle, and $15 in the front. Exit row seating, which provides extra legroom, starts at $20.

United: Economy Plus, from $9 per flight (actually on sale, at press time, from $5 per flight). Premier Travel bundles together a premium economy seat; priority boarding, security line access, and check-in; and two free checked bags; from around $47.

US Airways: Choice Seats, starting at $5 per segment, are regular seats located in the first few rows of coach. Purchase includes priority boarding.

Virgin America: Main Cabin Select offers extra legroom, along with meals and additional in-flight entertainment, from $35 to $110 depending on flight length.

Readers, would you pay for any of these perks? Which do you think are truly frivolous? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Thanks!

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