I know in the grand scheme of things this isn't the biggest problem in the world but it is a problem for me dammit. I am about 2 meters tall (6'6") and on top of that I have had both knees replaced and can bend my knees no more than about 90 degrees. I don't need to fly for business but I do a fair amount of leisure flying around Europe, to the US and next spring we are going to Tokyo. The problem of course is the airlines, in their perpetual pursuit of profitability keeping putting the seats closer and closer together. So today I booked seats for my wife and I on Lufthansa, my favorite airline in Europe, to go to Paris for our wedding anniversary next month. I know, how romantic, huh? In the past, I have always had a good experience with Lufthansa and often when checking in they have asked me if I wanted an exit row seat before I could even ask, always at no extra charge. So today, on their website, after I selected my flights, it asked if I wanted to select seats. Much to my surprise, they want 10 euro for a normal seat and 20 euro for exit row seats. Apparently they instituted this policy a few months ago. We are flying from Berlin and have to change planes in Dusseldorf and the charges apply to each flight so if I want two exit row seats for two flights each way, the cost of the seats amounts to what I paid for one round trip ticket. I felt a little perturbed about this. I called their customer service number and the first person I talked to explained it was my choice to sit in a seat with extra leg room and I didn't have to do that. She also explained that 23 hours prior to departure I could request seats at no additional charge. I patiently explained to her that first of all, I am pretty sure there wouldn't be any exit row seats available so soon before the flight and secondly, it wasn't as if I was choosing an exit row seat because I would like more leg room so much as because I needed the room. I asked her why did I need to pay a lot of extra money to sit in reasonable comfort which any ordinary height person could have for no extra charge. She again went on about it was my choice so I asked to speak to a supervisor since she obviously wasn't understanding me. The supervisor said she could appreciate my position but she was powerless to help me. So then I played the medical card and she said yes, they could make accommodations for disabilities at no extra charge but I needed to talk to the medical desk. Great. So she transferred me to the medical desk. The gent there started of by telling me I needed a letter from my doctor explaining why I need extra leg room. I informed him that according to EU privacy rules, I needed no such proof, that my claiming a disability was enough so he quickly countered that because I was on a flight within Europe they didn't have any other seats with extra leg room available except exit row seats and because of my lack of flexibility I wasn't allowed in an exit row seat as I wouldn't be able to fully assist in the event of an emergency and the airline had no further obligation to help me. So, check and mate! To add insult to injury, I just few to Spain for a week last week on the budget carrier, Air Berlin and I got an exit row seat both ways at no charge, in response to my request the nice check in agent on the outbound flight said, "Of course Mr. Soak, I am tall my self so I know how you feel."
Bottom line is it pisses me off that the less than 1% of all the people in the world my height or taller are condemned to uncomfortable hell when we want to fly. Are there any other anarchists out there that have had this problem? I am thinking of banding us tall folk together and insisting on equal treatment and to put an end to this blatant and unfair discrimination against tall people. It's not like I am fat and can lose weight, I am sure as shit not going to amputate my legs just so I can sit on an airplane without my knees jammed into the seat back in front of me. And especially when the person in front of me decides they need to recline their seat, well don't get me started on that one. Any other long people out there want to help? I'll start stockpiling torches and pitchforks and we can storm the airline offices and raise holy hell until we get the extra room we are entitled to.