Continental Airlines To Tall People: Pay Up For Comfort

Houston's Continental Airlines, all but admitting that its coach seats are torture for any human being taller than Tom Cruise, has decided to do something about it.

They've decided to charge people for the right not to have their knees in their face for a three-hour flight to New York or San Francisco.

Of, course, the airline has a somewhat different spin on things: "Continental Airlines to Sell Seat Assignments Offering Extra Legroom at Check In" is the sunny headline on the official announcement.

"Our customers want more choices," said Jim Compton, Continental's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Seats with additional legroom are higher-value seats, and we want to offer them to customers who recognize that value."

Of course, up until the new program goes into effect March 17, those seats could be had for no extra charge, but that didn't help Continental any.

The seats in question are in the exit rows, and have at least seven inches of additional legroom.

Pricing will depend on the length of the flight, Continental says -- the more you'd suffer, the more you have to pay to get out of suffering. A spokesman told the Associated Press that the charge on a Houston-New York flight might be around $59 on top of the ticket price.

If you're in Clooney-like levels of Continental's frequent-flier program, you can get the seats with no additional charge.

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