On my most recent flight, it really dawned on me just how often I go down a checklist of preferences when picking a seat. There is much research and scrutiny that goes into choosing a flight and that’s to be expected, but what I’ve realized is that snagging a great seat is a feat of its own. It’s getting more difficult to select a seat without paying and sometimes they don’t offer online seating charts at all! Luckily there are ways around almost everything these days. Here is the criteria that I try to consider with each flight to make the most informed decision and have a pleasant experience. It may seem like a lot to assess but the more often you use these methods in your selections, the more routine it will become.
- The first place I look on a seating chart is the front of the aircraft. I am always determined to sit as close to the front as possible, as long as it’s not in front of an exit row. I prefer sitting closer because it’s easier to board and de-board the plane which gets you through customs or to baggage claim quickly before the crowd. It also tends to be convenient for access to the restrooms, both on board and once you de-plane.
- As mentioned above, I try to avoid the rows in front of the exit rows. For safety reasons, many, if not all, flights do not have reclining seats in this row and can make for a pretty uncomfortable flight, especially when the person in front of you decides to recline into your limited space. *Side note, Spirit & Allegiant Airlines do NOT have any reclining seats.
- On the contrary, you may want to aim for an exit row so you’re guaranteed to keep the space in front of you open. Keep in mind the exit rows are said to have more narrow seats and you can’t keep your personal items stored under the seat in front of you, but it all depends on what trade offs are worthwhile to you.
- When traveling with a partner, and you’re not expecting it to be a full flight, chose an aisle and window seat wherever there is a middle seat also available. Chances are you’ll end up with the entire row to yourselves.
- For more legroom, go for the first row in economy. These usually carry a little bit heavier of a price tag when reserving a seat or are held for frequent flier upgrades, but if you’re willing to take a gamble on waiting until the last minute for a seat assignment, you may be able to score a bulkhead seat at no charge at all. I would recommend evaluating the passengers waiting to get onto your flight, too. If someone is traveling with a baby or small child, there is a strong chance they’ll be sitting in bulkhead as well. If the coast seems clear, check in with someone who works at the airline once you’re at your gate to see if you can switch your seats.
- Another row you’ll want to avoid at all cost is the last row on the plane. Not only do the seats not recline and you’ll be last off the plane, but you’re in position to become very well acquainted with the smells and sounds of the restroom. This is also the area that people tend to hover around while they wait for the toilet or stretch their legs. This happens to be the bumpiest and nosiest part of the airplane. And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse than the last row, the cherry on top is getting the aisle seat in that last row. It’s nearly impossible to sit in it and not have your elbows knocked up or your space encroached upon. The only true benefit I could see out of this row is if you need to use the restroom frequently, otherwise, STAY AWAY!
- USB and power outlets are like hidden treasures in some planes. Not every seat has these features. Personally, I’ve mostly only seen them under the seat of the middle passenger, unless the TV monitors have a port on them. If the airlines do not provide this information, try a site like Seat Guru or Seat Plans.
- Seats near the galley can either work in your favor or be your worst nightmare. If you’re on a day flight, this could mean easy access to service and refreshments. However, on an evening flight, it can be noisy and very active or bright.
- Keep in mind, the front of the plane will be less noisy since it sits in front of the engines, but it’s also supposed to be statistically safer to sit in the back third of the plane in the event of a crash.
- Picking a window seat for an overnight flight means you can sleep uninterrupted by fellow travelers and use the window shade as a head rest. If you are taller though, this seat can actually make you feel more claustrophobic because of the curvature of the walls.
- Choosing an aisle seat will allow you easy access to restrooms and getting off the plane, however it can be more difficult to rest when people are constantly walking by or needing to get past you to use the toilet.
- Don’t be afraid to use apps! There are a lot of tools out there to help facilitate the process and many have free versions available so why not utilize them.