Continental offers extra legroom - for a price

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- What are an extra seven to ten inches of legroom worth?

Around $59, if you're flying Continental Airlines from Newark to Houston later this month.

The Houston-based airline announced Wednesday it will join a host of other airlines in offering extra legroom for an additional fee. Extra space will be up for grabs for economy-class customers, starting March 17, the airline said.

The amount of legroom, which starts at a minimum of 7 inches, can vary by aircraft, as will the prices for the seats, depending on the flight length, market, aircraft and season, said Continential spokeswoman Julie King.

Continental Airlines (CAL, Fortune 500) made the decision based on customer feedback, which indicated economy passengers valued extra legroom enough to pay a "little bit extra," King said.

The airline already offers extra legroom at no extra charge to its OnePass Elite frequent flyer members, who will continue to have that privilege for free.

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

The announcement came two days after Continental announced that blizzards that shut down its New York hub resulted in a $25 million shortfall in February's passenger revenue.

United Airlines (UAUA, Fortune 500) offers economy passengers up to 5 extra inches of legroom for a price, as does JetBlue (JBLU), starting at $10. Some carriers also charge extra for roomier aisle or window seats in coach. On US Airways (LCC, Fortune 500), window or aisle seats near the front of the plane start at $5 extra. To top of page

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