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Explained: How to Choose the Best Airline Seat for Your Flight

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Choosing the best airline seat for your flight is, in my opinion, an essential final step in the booking process, which is why I like to choose my seat as soon as I’ve booked a flight.  Choosing badly, or leaving it to chance, can ruin the entire flight. The right seat can make your journey more comfortable, while the wrong seat can leave you irritable and feeling a little cheated. Here are my tips.  If you can think of any I’ve missed, let me know. 

Consider Your Needs & Preferences

Do you need extra legroom? Do you want to be close to the toilet? Do you prefer a window or aisle seat? Start with the basic questions, then continue on to the next considerations. 

Check The Seat Maps

Most airlines provide seat maps on their website or during the booking process. These maps show the layout of the aircraft and the location of each seat. These are fine but I prefer to use SeatGuru or SeatMastro to check.  They go into much more detail and grade the seats, pointing out the majority that are fine and the few that are either the best or the worst.  .

Book Your Seat Early

As I said in the introduction, I prefer to book my seat when I book the flight.  Many airlines allow you to choose your seat during the booking process, but you may have to pay a fee for doing so, and the fees can vary depending on the seat with higher prices indicating the more desirable seats.  This is a bit unfair but I guess it’s just supply and demand. 

To avoid fees, register for the airline’s loyalty program and get up to the first or second tier.  Once you’ve proven that you’re a loyal customer these additional fees are reduced or disappear altogether. Book your seat early on and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing where you’ll be spending those few hours, or longer. 

Best Seats in Economy Class

In economy class, the best seats are typically those with extra legroom, such as exit row seats or bulkhead seats. On some routes it’s not possible to book these seats as they are reserved for any disabled or infirm passengers.  It all depends on the aircraft, the airline, and the route.  Seats towards the front of the plane can provide a quieter and smoother ride, unless you find yourself next to a parent or family member with small children or babies. Mothers with babies are sometimes seated behind the bulkheads as that’s where they have the fold-down tables on which cots are secured. 

On the Wing or Behind?

Whether it’s better to sit on the wing or behind it depends on your personal preferences. It’s not a deal breaker for most people either way.  I guess some people enjoy the view of the wing extending out to the winglet at the end as they find it interesting to watch the flaps extend from trailing edge of the wing, and the fowler flaps project from the leading edge of the wing. 

Asking for a Better Seat

If you didn’t pre book your seat and you’re not happy with the seat you’ve been allocated then the time to ask for an alternative is while you’re still at the check-in counter.  With so many airlines using automated check-ins, this may not be possible, which is another reason you should choose your seat in advance, when you’re booking the flights. There’s no guarantee on availability, but you stand a better chance of being allocated a better seat if you’re travelling alone.

Making Economy Class Better

To avoid overpriced food and drink, bring your own in your cabin bag.  Pack a book, magazine, or some music if you’re travelling short haul and there is no inflight entertainment system.You could also bring a travel pillow or blanket to make the journey more comfortable.

Most Comfortable Airline for Economy Seats

The most comfortable airline for economy seats depends on various factors such as the aircraft type and seating configuration. However, some airlines known for their comfortable economy seats include Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Qatar Airways.

Best and Worst Place to Sit on a Plane

As mentioned previously, check a seat map for the specific aircraft in question to determine the best and worst seats.  Some aircraft seats in front of a bulkhead don’t recline fully back.  Others are near the galleys, which can get noisy during a busy flight.  Seats near toilets are not always the best, even though they may have extra legroom, as people stand in that excess area to queue for the toilet.  There may be smells that emanate from the toilet.  

Best Seat for Your Ears

The best seats for those who want as little as possible are obviously those furthest away from the sources of noise i.e. the galleys, children, and any adults who may be making a lot of noise. Of course, by that time it may be too late, so the best advice is to travel with earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones.

Check-In Early for Better Seats?

Checking in early may increase your chances of getting a better seat, especially if you’re travelling on a popular flight. If you haven’t pre booked your seat then those that are left are allocated according to individuals and groups  

Is the Back of the Plane a Good Seat?

The back of the plane is not necessarily a bad seat. It can provide a good view and may be closer to a loo and a galley, if that’s your perference.

Best Airline Seat - Premium Economy?
Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash

How to Get Free Upgrade Seats?

Getting a free upgrade seat is not always possible, but there are a few things you can try. One option is to sign up for the airline’s loyalty program and accumulate enough points to redeem for an upgrade. Another option is to dress appropriately and be polite and friendly to the airline staff, as they may be more likely to offer an upgrade to a well-dressed and courteous passenger.

In conclusion, choosing the best airline seat requires consideration of your needs and preferences, checking the seat map, choosing a seat early, and being aware of the best and worst places to sit on a plane. Additionally, bringing your own entertainment and snacks can help make your economy class experience more enjoyable. By following these tips, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey, whether you’re travelling for business or leisure.

How To Choose The Best Airline Seat For Your Flight
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Best Airline Seat FAQ

Is it OK to ask others to move seats?

If you’re travelling with other people and you’ve been allocated seats that have separated your group, there is no obligation on the part of the airline or other passengers to move seats so that your group can sit together.  The airline will try to accommodate your request and some passengers may be willing to move, but you’re trusting in luck.  It’s better to simply choose the seats when booking  your flight to ensure that you can all sit together. 

Is it better to sit on the wing or behind it? 

It depends on your preferences. Some people prefer a window seat on the wing for the view of the wing and the winglet against the sky.

How do you ask for a better seat on a plane? 

You can ask for a better seat at the airport check-in counte, but it will all depend on availabiity and there’s no guarantee they’ll change your seat.

How can I make my economy class better? 

Bring your own entertainment, snacks, and travel pillow or blanket.

Which airline is the most comfortable for economy seats? 

Some airlines known for their comfortable economy seats include Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Qatar Airways.

Where is the best and worst place to sit on a plane? 

The best place to sit depends on your preferences, while the worst place to sit is typically in the middle of a row or next to the toilets. Being in the middle means you have to ask people to move if you want to visit the toilet or stretch your legs in the aisle. Being near the toilet means you’re closer to more activity and the possibility of bad odours.

Do you get better seats if you check-in early? 

Checking in early may increase your chances of getting a better seat, especially if you’re travelling on a popular flight.

How to get free upgrade seats? 

Sign up for the airline’s loyalty program, dress appropriately, and be polite and friendly to the airline staff.

What are the best seats on a plane in economy? 

The best seats in economy class are typically those with extra legroom, such as exit row seats or bulkhead seats.

How do you survive a 15-hour flight in economy? 

Bring your own entertainment, snacks, and travel pillow or blanket. Also, stretch regularly during the flight and stay hydrated. Don’t drink too much alcohol.

Which airline has the roomiest seats? 

Some airlines known for their roomy seats include JetBlue, Air New Zealand, and Delta.

What side of the plane is it safer to sit on? 

There is no evidence to suggest that one side of the plane is safer than the other.

What is the best seat to avoid turbulence? 

Air turbulence affects the entire aircraft so there’s no seat that’s any better than another. Just keep your seatbelt on.

Does wearing earplugs help when flying? 

Yes, wearing earplugs can help to reduce noise levels and make your journey more comfortable. Noise cancelling headphones are even better. 

Do I need to print my boarding pass? 

It depends on the airline. Some airlines allow you to use an electronic boarding pass on your phone, while others may require a printed copy.

Is it cheaper to upgrade seats after booking? 

It depends on the airline and the availability of seats. In some cases, it may be cheaper to upgrade seats after booking, but this is not always the case.

Do seat upgrades get cheaper closer to the flight?

 Again. it depends on the airline and the availability of seats. In some cases, seat upgrades may become cheaper closer to the flight, but this is not always the case.

Is it rude to lean your seat back on an aeroplane? 

It’s a matter of personal opinion, but it’s generally considered courteous to only recline your seat during certain times of the flight, such as when the lights are dimmed for sleep, or after the main meal on a long haul flight. Do not recline your seat when drinks and meals are being served.

Is it OK to ask for a free upgrade flight? 

It’s okay to ask, but it’s not guaranteed that you will receive a free upgrade. The worst they can say is ‘no’.

How to upgrade to business class cheaper? 

Consider signing up for the airline’s loyalty program, using miles or points to upgrade, or bidding on an upgrade.

Can you ask for a free upgrade at the airport? 

You can ask for a free upgrade at the airport, but it’s not guaranteed that you will receive one.

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