Good Advice Seat Choice

How to pick the best seat on the plane


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First of all, ask yourself two crucial questions:

Window or aisle?

Both have advantages. If you like to stretch your legs during a flight, an aisle seat is good for you. Bear in mind, though, that this may be enforced upon you if the person in the window seat wants to get out of their seat. If you prefer to be undisturbed, then the window seat is probably best.

Upper deck or lower deck?

If you're travelling on the A380 superjumbo you have two decks to choose from - upper or lower deck. Generally, sitting on the upper deck is preferable because of the usually smaller cabin and lower density configuration (2-4-2 vs. 3-4-3). It's also quieter sitting upstairs.

Day flight or night flight?

On a night flight, window seats are preferred by many. You can sleep without being disturbed by anyone wanting access to the aisle, and in economy seats there’s the possibility of resting a pillow or rolled up item of clothing against the side of the aircraft to prevent head lolling.

In general

Middle seats are to be avoided.

So in a 3-4-3 configuration, typically designated A, B, C, then D, E, F, G and then H, J, K (I is omitted to avoid confusion), the set to avoid are B, E, F and J.

Avoid seats at the back of the plane.

In general, the front of the plane is the quietest, because you are in front of the engines (though there will be some noise for a few seconds when the front landing gear is lowered or raised). The middle of the plane is noisier because of the engines, but is smoother. The back of the plane is both noisy and bumpy.

Avoid seats next to toilets

These are noisier, often have people queuing to use them (and so standing over you) and can often be smelly as well.

Avoid seats close to the galley

For a day flight being here may be an advantage, since you can receive service more easily, or in premium cabins, perhaps serve yourself. But on night flights the noise can be a nuisance.

Seats by emergency exits are to be preferred

These give more leg room, though they do come with restrictions, most notably that you are able bodied and so can assist in case of emergencies, and of course you cannot stow your luggage under the seat in front of you. Bear in mind also that these are often close to the galley, and so can be noisy.

Bulkhead seats

The bulkhead is a dividing wall between cabins. If you have a seat facing this, then you will probably get more legroom, but also bear in mind this is where babies often travel in bassinets - and no amount of leg room compensates for a noisy baby on a night flight. Also make sure not to sit in the row in front of the bulkhead, since the recline of your seat may be fixed or restricted.