Seat Selection in an Airplane

Not all economy airplane seats are identical and they are certainly not equal. Savvy travelers bag the best seats on the plane by following these air travel tips.

 Get a head start.

Early birds get the good worms so as soon as you are permitted to, choose your seat. Other travellers know the good seats, the bad and the truly awful so select a good seat as soon as you can. If you are booking on-line, many airlines allow you to choose your seat at the time of booking. If not, phone the airline immediately after booking and ask for a seat allocation. Some airlines hold bulk head and exit row seats til check-in so be sure to check-in on line as soon as that facility opens. Airlines have cottoned on to the advantages of some seats over others and are charging for the privilege. Consider paying on a long haul flight or if you have particular needs. But let’s not encourage them by shelling out for middling seats on short-hops. If you find yourself being allocated a seat in the airport 45 minutes before take-off you might really deserve all you get, however you can still enter into negotiations at the gate. Premium fliers sometimes get bumped to first class. A good travel tip is to ask if anyone has just vacated a really plum airline seat and could you have it.

 Know the good seats

Accepted wisdom states that exit seats are good and anything to the front of the plane is a gain. You can have a look on sites like and for detailed maps of each plane on each airline. They give ratings to airlines according to comfort level, service and food which you may want to consider before booking. They also have compiled composite advice based on reviews of the best air plane seats. Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and needs. If you want to disembark promptly look for an aisle seat at the front or the back. If you suffer from motion sickness you are best in a wing seat at the window. The wing experiences less turbulence and looking out the window towards the horizon really helps with the conflicting brain messages which cause the nausea. If you have long legs look for a seat with extended leg room like bulk head seats or exit row seats.

Know the bad seats

On an overnight flight an aisle seat is to be avoided. Imagine hopping up and down every moment to allow inside passengers stretch their legs. Bulkhead seats are good for leg room but be warned passengers travelling with infants are often allocated these seats as there is room for a bassinet. Anything in the middle is generally pretty rotten and if there are 5 seats in a row the middle-middle is a real dud. Seats in the middle of the plane are also last to be served food as service usually starts from the front and the back. If seat width is an issue avoid seats which stow the table-top in the arm rest as this reduces the seat width slightly.

 Know the really awful seats

Any seat near the toilet, which has limited recline or does not recline, is squeezed into an after-thought space or has limited leg-room is a total washout. Sites like seat guru help to identify these and travellers should avoid at all costs. If you find yourself in one of these it is time for a charm offensive with the air steward to get reallocated to an empty seat.

By following these travel tips travellers in the know can grab the best airline seats and avoid the most unpleasant.