I recently ran into a couple of all-time bests and worsts, and it happened in places that took me by surprise.
My worst airline seat ever “award” goes to seat 38A on Korean Air’s 747-400. I had this seat on a recent flight from Bangkok, Thailand (Bkk) to Seoul/Incheon, Korea (ICN).
The really aggravating thing about this seat was that I had an aisle seat a little bit further up front in the economy section but traded it at check in for what the agent said was an exit row seat with more legroom.
I’ve been in exit row aisle seats on other widebodies (like American’s 777-300 seat 16A) and knew that the exit door has an emergency slide that protrudes into the cabin. The enclosure for the slide takes up some of the room for the seat next to the fuselage. However,that had not been much of a problem even on a 16-hour flight like Dallas to Hong Kong.
In fact, being next to the window in an exit row is good because the extra room attracts other passengers to stand in front of this row of seats while waiting for the bathroom or just to stretch their legs. The lower ceiling near the fuselage prevents people from standing there. So, unlike the middle and aisle seats in the exit row, there is never a hindrance to stretching out your legs.
This exit-row seat had no reddeeming qualities.
There was barely enough room to sit down with feet tucked under as much as possible. I had to take up some of the leg room of the passenger in the middle seat to stretch out my legs.
To make matters worse, Korean Air puts the pouch for storing flight magazines, duty-free sales adverts and all the other printed material at shoulder level at this seat because there is no room for the pouch on the floor.
There are no positives for this seat at all, but on the positive side for the flight I note that Korean Air did provide a dental kit and flimsy but useful slippers for every economy passenger.
Also, while row 38 is next to the lavatories situated in the center of the plane, this is not as bothersome as it might be because Korean Air installs curtains that block the light and view.
The flight attendants kept the curtains closed if a passenger failed to close them.
To give an overall evaluation of this seat, if this had been my first flight on Korean Air, I doubt that I would ever fly the airline again. Korean Air should remove seat 38A and leave an opening like American Airlines does in row 9 on its A321 for example.