SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --If you feel more cramped on an airplane these days, it's because you are. Airline seats are closer together than ever before, at least if you're flying economy class.
A Bay Area man found a way to get some relief, but needed help from 7 On Your Side. He found an economical way to get a precious few inches more for his crumpled legs. It worked out well until he started planning a future trip. Then, instead of his legs getting squeezed, his wallet did.
Bob Friedland of San Francisco collects antique telephones and travels the world finding them. Lugging phones across borders is hard enough the next problem? Bob is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
"When you're 6-foot-2 like I am, you need the legroom on a plane," Friedland said.
Airlines are squeezing in more seats these days. Legroom has shrunk from 35 inches on average to just 31.
"When your knees are kissing the back of the seat in front of you and then that person leans the seat back, it becomes impossible," he said.
Which is why Friedland subscribed to United Airlines Economy Plus Program. It lets him sit in seats with extra legroom whenever he flies. His subscription expires in April, so he went online to set up automatic renewal, but he got error messages.
"I called, the agent said, 'Oh, there's a problem with the computer system,'" he said. He tried again. It still didn't work
"I spent two hours and 23 minutes on the phone," he said.
Instead of automatic renewal, he was charged for a new subscription, expiring next February. He didn't want two subscriptions. United agents told him to apply online for a refund. He got an error message there too.
"Nobody could help me, that's why I turned to 7 On Your Side,"
We contacted United, and right away the airline reversed the charge on his account. "We have reached out to Mr. Friedland to refund the subscription he inadvertently purchased and to apologize for the difficulties he encountered."
"All's well that ends well, but if I didn't have 7 On Your Side, I'd still be pulling my hair out," Friedland said.
What happened is Friedland had inadvertently purchased a gift subscription $699 for economy plus, which you can give away to someone else. United said agents should have been able to steer him to the right web page.
Click here for more stories and videos by 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney.