There is so much discussion nowadays about levels of comfort whilst traveling, especially with regards to seat pitch on aircraft. The general consensus is, that in order to cram as many seats onto planes as possible, passengers are losing out when it comes to legroom. There is certainly some truth in this because I have been on flights where my knees were uncomfortably pressed into the back of the seat in front (and I am not tall) but it’s not the full story.
Today I caught a train with too much legroom! I paid an extra €10 to upgrade to first class as I wanted to do some work (it brought the total price of my train ticket for a 2h30 journey to €19 so I was really splashing out). Firstly, I couldn’t reach the foot rest, it was too far away. Secondly, the table in front of me was more than a foot away from my body – not a comfortable working stance. I just couldn’t get comfortable; no matter how I tried to position myself something was wrong. After half an hour, I gave up trying to work, lifted my traveling bag down from the overhead rack to use as a foot rest (!) and settled down to write this (on my lap).
I feel really churlish complaining about too much legroom but it’s an issue I’ve had on planes as well, and is one of many reasons why I actively avoid seats in exit rows (I’m sure someone taller than me would get much more benefit in any case). My ideal seat pitch seems to be in the region of 29 inches (which is why I like easyJet so much) but that’s clearly not going to be the case for someone taller and it is nicer to have a bit more room than that when flying long haul. I’m also fully in favor of slimmer airline seats and no recline feature on short-haul flights (although, admittedly, I still fall asleep). I also don’t understand why plane seats don’t work like train seats, with the seat sliding forward rather than the seatback going backwards. If you want to recline your seat, it seems fairer that you lose legroom as a result rather than you stealing some of my space.
Maybe someone can explain to me though why, when I have more legroom, I need to use a foot rest to be comfortable. As the seat height hasn’t changed I fail to see the physics in it but it is certainly true for me.
This is also the reason why when I’m traveling I often ending up working on my laptop in bed as even when there is a desk and chair available the height differential is usually wrong for me to be able to work comfortably. As I lack my own personal (appropriately height-adjusted) workspace, I have to work when and where I can. Thankfully, tables in cafés usually seem to work well for this purpose. And, bonus, people bring me coffee!
A friend suggested to me a while ago that I should write a post on where I work when I’m traveling and I do intend to but for now I’ll just give a short list: on my bed, in cafes, in a library, whilst actually traveling (mostly on trains because there’s rarely enough room on a plane or bus), airports, and, wherever possible, outdoors (on a seat or sat on the ground, whichever is more comfortable).
To return to the point though (I did have one I promise!), there are so many little things that add up to make us comfortable or uncomfortable and it’s so frustrating to be faced with a long journey when you can’t get comfortable. And, as I can’t work now, I guess I’ll have to find somewhere shady down by a lake this afternoon to make up for it. Yes, I know, my life is tough!