Extra leg room seats on Emirates for free

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Extra leg room seats for free but only if you ask nicely

An Emirates A380 taking off from London Heathrow.
A shot of n Emirates A380 taking off from London Heathrow I took a couple of years ago. See the ageing BA fleet on the ground below.

Here’s a quick tip for you; how to get free extra leg room seats when flying on Emirates (and possibly some other airlines). It’s worked for me on several occasions.

I have had to fly to Bangkok, Thailand, three times in the past year. Wherever possible, when flying long haul I look for seats on Airbus A380 superjumbos, although price and airline reputation are also high on the agenda. On my first trip I chose Singapore Airlines, via Singapore. At the time Thai Airways wasn’t flying an A380 on their non-stop service and Singapore Airlines was cheaper anyway. Singapore Airlines’ service is great and Singapore’s Changi airport is, in my view, the best in the world, but the return leg was over 14 hours non-stop and although I am of average height I really appreciate extra leg room.

Welcome extra legroom on an Emirates flight.
My feet and the welcome extra legroom on an Emirates flight.

Seats on rows adjacent to emergency exits have extra space to accommodate passengers exiting the aircraft in the event of an emergency. Singapore Airlines, like most others, charge a premium for these seats.

Emirates, on the other hand, don’t charge extra. However, you can’t normally choose these seats via the online check-in procedure. Instead, select the best seat you can online and when you drop your bags at the airport check-in desk, ask very nicely and they will make a phone call to find out if there are any emergency exit row seats available.

I flew Emirates, via Dubai, on my last two trips to Bangkok and secured extra leg room seats three times out of a total of 8 flights (two out, two back, times two). I haven’t yet figured out a way of applying for these seats on connecting flights as you don’t have to check-in in-transit. Once I was thwarted by the fact that the Bangkok to Dubai flight I was booked on was stopping over from Hong Kong, so all the exit row seats had already been claimed in Hong Kong.

There are lots of reasons why Emirates is now my favourite airline (price, service, lots of A380 services and their planes

are so new. On a couple of occasions after checking the plane registration I realised the plane I was in was barely three months old. Did I mention how good their in flight entertainment system is? However, the reasonable chance of getting a free ‘upgrade’ to an extra leg room seat is a key incentive. It also motivates me to get to the airport a bit earlier than usual. If you know of other airlines that do the same, please let us know.

An Emirates A380 at Dubai International Airport.
An Emirates A380 at Dubai International Airport.


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Ian BurleyS DSmithe864TestrGraham Parry Recent comment authors
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they have now started charging extra for these seats. Just secured 2 x 2 Melbourne to Dubai return for approx $700 AUD. Worth it in my opinion.


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Yup, I wouldn’t want to be any taller than my 5’10” 🙂

Graham Parry
Graham Parry

Good tip.

I too have used the: “ask very nicely” approach and found it works…

I’ve also described myself as “just under 2m tall” in the hope of getting an exit seat. Having lived in the US i did have to change this to “well over 6 feet”…