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      Money Talks News: How to Get the Best Airline Seats

      It's no secret that airplane seats are shrinking - According to FareCompare.com, the average seat had 32 inches of legroom a few years ago. Now? 31. But not all the seats in coach are alike.

      For example, did you know that in many planes, seats get narrower at the back? Before you book next flight, use these tips to fight for every extra inch.

      First, use a seat-site for research. Example? Here's the plane I'm taking today. Seatexpert.com offers a color-coded map. Green is best, but there are user-reviewed issues with seats in yellow, orange and red.

      Next tip? Try a travel agent. Sure, they cost money - $25 to $30 - but the last time I used one, they got me a premium seat free, offsetting their cost.

      Stuck in a middle seat? Sites like expertflyer.com will automatically notify you if a better seat opens up.

      And speaking of middle seats, if you're flying as a couple in a three seat row, take the aisle and window. If the middle seat goes unoccupied, you win.

      If you're not happy with your seat, check out the airline's web site as soon as you can check in, typically 24 hours before a flight. That's when all seats are released and up for grabs.

      And if all else fails, you can normally buy a better seat. But use the seat sites to see what you get for your money.

      Oh, and one more idea: charm your way into better seat. Sometimes sharing a smile with a gate or flight attendant is all it takes.

      For more travel tips, just grab a seat, go to moneytalksnews.com and do a search for "travel."

      For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.