JetBlue has revealed that they will be adding extra-legroom rows to their flights to accommodate taller passengers. The seats will add four inches (from 34″ to 38″) and be available for approximately $40RT.

If you’re a taller fellow like myself then this is great news. For flights over a couple hours I would gladly pay a little extra so that my knees don’t yoga-pose themselves into others’ space. The truth is that this will benefit those who have to sit next to the “talls” as much as the talls themselves. Nobody likes to sit next to the tall guys whose knees splay out into their own legroom. And yet, this doesn’t address the real flight discomfort problem, wider seats.

But wider seats for a widening population will never happen.

With due respect to the larger flyers out there, it is no treat to have one’s already-limited seat taken up by a super-sized individual. And there are far more of them on the average flight than 6′6″ tall-boys. Why not provide four extra inches of seat, for a charge?

For one, because the architecture of airplanes is amendable primarily only stern to aft and not starboard to port. This is to say, it is easy to rearrange seats forward and back to add a few inches here and there without removing saleable seats but it is impossible, without shrinking some seats and thus shrinking saleable space, to find any extra left to right elbow room.

Secondly, and worse, is that tallness is something that is a discomfort primarily to the tall person flying, and less so to the tall person’s flight neighbor. But the discomfort for the seriously overweight is primarily to those one eight side, and no airline will ever be so impudent as to ask a patron to pay extra to GET AWAY from another passenger. Plus, who then would be moved to that seat? Would those seats be sold at a discount?

I suppose this does count as progress. But still?