Continental is going to begin charging customers extra for seats that have more leg room. For example, if you want to sit in the exit row, you'll have to pay the fee at check-in to snag these seats with 7 inches more leg room than other seats, according to the Associated Press. The fee will vary depending on the type of seat, date, route and length of the flight. The AP story notes that the fee for a flight from Houston to New York would be $59. The new fee goes into effect March 17.
This is really not surprising nor outrageous. Some airlines already do this, including JetBlue and United, which offers more legroom in Economy Plus, a separate section in coach that has up to 5 extra inches of space. US Airways charges for window or aisle seats. Continental is simply monetizing that which its customers desire: more space. Think of the Kevin Smith/Southwest debacle. There is really no incentive for the airline industry to offer coach customers a baseline level seat that is too comfortable, when they know that we will pay more for every extra inch of comfort we can afford.