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Where have all the armrests gone? - Curt Yeomans

Delta Air Lines made headlines this week with news about several upcoming changes to its flights.

The locally-based airline announced, on Tuesday, that it is going to begin serving Starbucks Corporation's Seattle's Best Coffee brand, on domestic and international flights, beginning on March 1.

It announced, on Monday, it is adding an "Economy Comfort" section of premium seating, with an additional four inches of legroom and 50 percent more space to recline, in its economy seating areas on 160 aircraft, for international flights only.

Additionally, Delta said it will add 34, horizontal, flat-bed, "BusinessElite" seats, for business travelers, on each of its Airbus A330 airplanes, by 2013.

The moves are all part of a plan by Delta to invest more than $2 billion into improving customer service in the air, and on the ground, the airline said in a news release.

But, here's my thing. We hear airlines talk all the time about more legroom, and more space to recline your chair. No one, however, ever talks about one key piece of customer comfort on an airplane: The armrests.

I pity the armrest, because it is perhaps, the most important piece of customer comfort on a plane, and yet, it is the most overlooked piece as well.

I mean, if an armrest had feelings, and ,of course, the ability to speak and think, don't you think it would be saying, "Hey, what about me?" It just gets forgotten in the shuffle while everyone makes such a big fuss about legroom.

Think about it, though. There is typically only one armrest between seats on an airplane. How many times have you been on a flight and one person got to use each armrest on either side of them, but everyone else had to settle for having only one armrest.

If you're sitting in an aisle seat, you're reduced to leaning on one armrest, with your upper body hanging out into the aisle. It's even worse if you sit in the window seat, because you go to lean on the armrest next to the window and your face ends up smooshed against the glass, watching clouds go by.

And, then there is the absolute worst situation, when the people on either side of you claimed two armrests, leaving you to keep your arms tucked into your side, with your hands clutched together in your lap.

All I want to know is why more armrests aren't put onto planes. Do we need to bring singer Paula Cole out of the mothballs, to sing, "Where have all the armrests gone?"

When you think about the continual push for more legroom, you could eventually end up in a situation where you have the length of a person between you and the seats in front of you. Meanwhile, the people will still be elbowing each other in the face in the fight for a place to put their arms.

It's almost like people have to spend their flight saying, "Oh heck to the no, you better back your arm up from that armrest before I go all 'elbow to the face' on you. It's MINE!"

When you really think about it, our arms are getting shafted, while our legs are treated like sultans.

Is it too much to ask for two, wide armrests between the seats? If the airlines want to improve my flying experience, then, perhaps, it is time to do something for my arms.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.