There are a few philosophies to finding the best seat on an airplane. But you’re going to want to know some of these tips and tricks. They could mean the different between a comfortable flight and a nightmarish ordeal. Flights can be very long, why not sit in the perfect seat? We have put together these tips to help you find the best place to sit on an airplane but also to be able to consistently get that great spot at check-in.
Pick your class
The first tip is pretty obvious. Clearly first class and business class will be more comfortable than economy or economy plus. They have more legroom and on longer flights can have fully horizontal bed-type seats for sleeping. But unless you travel a lot for business or have a lot of money, first and business class just aren’t options. Consider upgrading to economy plus (or whatever your airline calls it). These seats will be similar to economy but generally seated in more desirable spots on the plane. And they have better leg room! Usually you can make this upgrade at check-in.
Where do you want to sit?
Certain people like aisles and others windows. It’s the great debate. But nobody is intentionally trying to get that dreaded middle seat. Especially on long haul flights where there is a whole section of seats in the middle of the plane with no window nearby. Once this is out of the way, then you have a few decisions about how your flight should go.
For a quick exit upon landing
Generally the front of the plane will exit first when you land. For a faster exit, consider booking a seat as far to the front as possible.
For a smooth flight
If you get a seat over the wings of the plane you will experience a smoother flight. This is due to the fact that you are situated on the most stable part of the plane which experiences the least flexing and shuddering when turbulence happens.
For a quiet flight
This spot is in the front of the plane. The sound of the engines dissipates as you get further tot he front of the aircraft. Just make sure you pay attention to where infant rows are. You don’t want all of your planning to undone by a screaming toddler or two.
To get your carry on into the bins first
Most US airlines will board the back of the plane first. Have you noticed that lately they will board via “zones”? Well, the first zone is almost always the back. If you are concerned about the ever dwindling carry on overhead bin space, then just get a seat in the back. You will have first access to putting your bag in the overhead bins. Just be courteous to others and try not to dominate other row’s overhead bins too much. We’ve all been the victim of this guy…
Got long legs and need extra leg room?
Well, consider booking an exit row which has not seats in front of it. Often these will be economy plus seats, but not always.
If you’re concerned about safety
Studies have shown that the safest place on a plane in the event of a crash or unscheduled landing is actually just behind the wing of the plane. Consider picking an aisle seat for quick exiting.
My go to for sleeping is a window seat as far from the galley and any bathrooms as possible. People tend to line up at the bathrooms a couple hours into flights and you don’t want to have weirdos crowding around you while you sleep. And there is generally more chatter happening in the galley, so steer clear of this area if you want to get some shut eye.
How to find the best seat on the plane: Our number one tip!
When you book a flight you will be assigned a seat right away usually. And often this seat is not ideal. You just don’t know it yet. Our secret is Seat Guru. This site is a godsend for those of you that are picky about your airplane seat. Just go on over to seatguru.com and then type in your airline, flight number and date of departure. Then the system will allow you view seat maps for every flight on Earth. They have matched their system to the exact plane model to be used on your flight and have gone through the trouble of finding: (1) seats that are awesome and (2) seats that may have problems or are traditionally bad. For example, some seats on planes cannot recline all of the way due to the way the plane was designed. Some seats have vastly reduced legroom due to equipment boxes installed under the seat in front of them. You need to avoid these like the plague! Seat Guru will allow you to be the seat ninja you always imagined you could be. They even have user reviews of seats along the right hand side so you can get opinions of real life travelers.
Once you have found the perfect seat then its just a matter of logging into the online check-in system (usually 24 hours before your flight). Then once you get to the stage where you can see your seat, you can usually change seats. The system will show you what is available still, what is taken and what is an upgrade cost. Just make sure you login as early as possible. You are battling against many other people just as picky as you!
Getting a seat upgrade: Not us easy as it used to be, but still possible
Most airlines will allocate free upgrades to business or first class based on loyalty programs now. That means that frequent flyers or members of airline clubs will generally be given these perks first. But that is not always the case. I recently traveled to Tokyo for my honeymoon and was able to talk the gate agent into upgrading my wife and myself to economy plus tickets. It helped that it was our honeymoon though. Just don’t be afraid to ask at the desk where you check your luggage and get your tickets. And be nice! Nothing goes further than being extremely pleasant and easy going. So put on your best smile and ask politely if there is any chance to upgrade. If that fails, there is always the choice of buying an upgrade at extra cost. This may totally be worth it for really long flights. But maybe not just for a few hours.
So that’s it! With these tips we hope that you will have a very smooth and comfortable next flying experience.
In summary: The best place to sit on an airplane and how to get that seat
- Pick your ideal seating location based on your needs
- Check Seat Guru when you are checking in to find any problem or excellent seats
- Arrive to online check-in as soon as it is possible (usually 24 hours before your flight)
- Switch your seats at online check-in to the best ones you see on Seat Guru
- When all else fails, ask for a free upgrade on check-in at the airport
Note: We are not sponsored by Seat Guru in any way. We just love their service and recommend it to everyone!