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Michael Bennett is the former Senior Producer of the Travel Channels west coast operations and is currently a travel writer for Savoy and Black Enterprise Magazine. Michael is the host of Globetrotting on BET's BET on Jazz Network. For travel question write to


Air travel since September 11 is a time consuming ordeal that most of us would like to avoid if possible. Unfortunately it is still the quickest way to get from point A to point B making it a necessary evil. Unless you’re the top anchor at your station or the managing editor of your newspaper, most of you don’t have the luxury of flying first or business class.

But all is not lost if you’re still looking for a comfortable seat. I recently took an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York’s JFK airport. For this six hour flight American used a 767-200 series aircraft. I was flying coach, which causes a lot of problems for me since I’m 6’5”. Legroom is extremely important. As a member of American’s frequent flyer program I was hoping to use my accumulated miles for an upgrade to first or business class. When I arrived at the airport both first and business class were sold out.

I very politely asked the desk agent to give me a bulkhead seat. Since I arrived so early they were able to handle my request with ease and without using any of my frequent flyer miles. I was assigned to seat 17H. When I boarded the aircraft and found my seat you couldn’t possibly imagine my surprise.

Seat 17H was the first row behind business class. There were only two seats in my section. I had my own private TV and a foot-rest on my chair. And oh did I mention, more legroom than I new what to do with. My proximity to the flight attendants work area made it easy for me to get served and basically spoiled as if I were flying first class.

These “secret seats” as most travel experts call them are available on most long-haul flights. Bulkhead seats and other “secret seats” like the exit rows aren’t handed out until the day of departure. So arrive early. Be forewarned, some exit row and bulkhead seats don’t recline so make sure you ask.

If you’re flying on flights less than two hours chances are you won’t find such good seating especially if you’re on discount carriers like Southwest Airlines.

Finding these seats can be a little difficult. Most major domestic carriers fly the Boeing 767 series, but each is configured differently. For example Delta, Continental and United fly a 767-200 series aircraft similar to the one I flew on American. Because the interiors are configured differently the best seats won’t be the same as 17H on American.

Here’s a short list of good seats for the 767-200 series on American, Delta, Continental and United.

American Row 17 A, B, H, J and 25 C-G

Delta Row 10 and 26 C-E

Continental Row 16 and 20 D-F

United Row 15 C-E

To find out what type of aircraft you’ll be flying ask the reservations agent or your travel agent at the time of booking. If you book using the Internet go to that carriers website and punch in your flight number. Since navigating websites can be difficult you can also call the airlines 800 number and get the information from the reservations agent.

All major carriers have their aircraft configuration on their websites. So you’ll be able to print the diagram and take it to the airport with you to make specific seat requests. It also helps if you’re a member of that carriers frequent flyer program and if you paid full fare for the seat. Most business travelers always pay full fare even for a coach seat. If you were assigned a seat at booking don’t be afraid to ask the gate agent for a bulkhead seat once you arrive at the airport.