I had a similar experience to this Consumerist story. Well, not really, but I ran into it when I was booking my ticket to visit family for the holidays.
Northwest had the most convenient arrival and departure times, and for a reasonable price. I was in the process of buying a ticket, and got all the way to the stage where I should have selected a seat assignment. That's when I saw that there are now no fewer than 8 different classes of seating. They don't all necessarily cost more money -- some of them are available to "premium gold" (I'm making that up, but it's something similar) members, etc. So I closed the tab and bought my ticket on Spirit instead. No way I'm going to support that garbage. The only place they were going to let me sit for the advertised price was in a middle seat. At 6' 3"ish, the middle seat can go to hell.
Also, it seems to me that this is racist and ageist. There are a number of requirements for sitting in the exit row. This used to be fine, because ostensibly there were responsibilities associated with sitting there, and fulfilling those responsibilities required the ability to communicate with the majority of people who are sitting on the plane and the physical strength to do something or other. (Anybody know what language you have to speak to sit in the exit row on a flight from Boston to Brazil with continuing service to Argentina? I don't remember.)
But now, the extra charge is much more conducive to the view that the exit row is just another seat with more leg room. And only people who meet the above qualifications are allowed to sit in it. I guess I'm being a little ridiculous, but still -- if it's a responsibility, have the requirements and let people willing and able to assume it sit there. If it's just about the legroom, then charge more but let anyone sit there, regardless of their native language.
So, I'll be in Michigan from December 17th to December 27th. Let me know if you're one of my invisible Michigan friends reading this and want to make plans.