The process of "unbundling" various airline services and amenities continues.
Continental Airlines says today that beginning March 17 customers will be able to buy, at check-in, premium seat assignments in coach that feature extra legroom.
Continental was quick to add that its elite-status frequent flyer members and their traveling companions "will be able to continue to assign themselves seats with extra legroom in economy class without charge."
In general, elite-status passengers, any airline's most loyal customers, are wary when an airline decides to sell a perk, like priority seating in exit rows with extra space, that elite fliers supposedly have first dibs on.
In Continental's announcement, Jim Compton, the airline's chief marketing officer, was quoted as saying: "Seats with additional legroom are higher-value seats, and we want to offer them to customers who recognize that value."
Depending on the type of aircraft and row, seats with extra legroom provide customers with "a minimum of seven additional inches of leg space," Continental said.
[NOTE: I have questions in to Continental on exactly what that means, where those 7-inch-extra room seats are, and whether selling priority seats will reduce the overall number of such seats available to elite-status customers. I'll update when I hear back from them.]
UPDATE 2 -- No response at end of day. Again tomorrow:
--Where precisely are those extra 7 inches (or more) of legroom? I am not aware of an existing Continental configuration that fits that description.
--How does this affect elite-status customers and their dibs on the better seats in coach?
Continental said that its customers will be able to purchase these seats at continental.com or at the airport kiosk during the usual check-in period beginning at 24 hours prior to departure of the first flight in an itinerary. Pricing for the premium seats will vary depending on the length of the flight and market.