June 19, 2024

You can Pick the Best Seats for You If you have the Right Information

There are variations in airplane seats from those that don’t recline to those with no space under the seat for storing your smaller bag. You need to select a seat on the plane that works with your travel style and needs. I’ll show you how to find the best seats on an airplane.

The type of aircraft will depend on the seats offered.  Some travelers like to sleep, some can’t sleep, and others may feel a little pinned in if by a window.  If you need to frequent the toilet, then it is recommended you select an aisle seat on a long flight. 

Let’s talk about the types of seats that you can get on an airplane.


Have a Tight Connection?

Without a doubt, the best choice for a tight connection is the aisle seat closest to the forward exit. You’ll avoid the lines of people trying to get off the plane and all the commotion and time involved with people pulling things down from the overhead compartments.

The Quietest Seats

Airplanes are noisy by default but there are seats that will give you a little more peace than others. Not only do you have the standard noise from the plane there are the conversations, crying babies and much more. Of course, you won’t be able to avoid it all.  

Stay clear of the seat near the galleys and toilets. Seats that are closer to the front of the plane a slightly quieter than those at the wing or back. It will depend on where the engines are situation. You can decrease the noise of the refreshment cart if you sit by the window. I always recommend a good set of noise cancelling headphones.  

Chances of Having an Empty Seat Next to You

When I get an open seat next to me, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.  I can stretch out and use both armrests, and finally, there is one less person who could bother me during the flight. It also decreases the number of people I disturb when I need to get out of my seat. 

You will find the plane will fill up from the front to the back. So, if you head towards the back of the plane, you will find your chances of getting an empty seat next to you increase.  The last seats selected are the middle seats in the back of the plane.  If you are in a widebody plane with two aisles, sit in the center sections of seats instead of the seats in the side sections. You will have the option to pay for seat with extra legroom. Since they come with a price, you’re less likely to have a seatmate.

Minimal Turbulence 

Turbulence can vary a lot depending on the flying conditions and the type of aircraft. It can range from uncomfortable to nerve racking. Different areas of the plane feel turbulence more than others. I learned a long time ago that sitting over the wing is the smoothest ride. These seats are close to the plane’s center of lift and gravity.  And the roughest is in the rearmost seats that are close to the tail.

Most Legroom

Legroom is tight in most of the seats. They are measured in seat pitch. That is the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat directly in front of it. In comparison to the average seat pitch of the 1960s, which was 35 inches, some airlines have reduced their pitch to as low as 28 inches. On the higher end, other airlines offer 32 inches. The aircraft seat map will give you this number to consider when selecting a seat.

I would stay out of economy if legroom were a requirement. Depending on the airline and airplane configuration, bulkhead seats, seats located in the first row after a dividing wall or galley typically have most legroom. Getting more leg room will take away the under-seat storage in most cases. Then you have the exit rows that have more leg room since they will be used as an exit path in case of an emergency. Note: Not all exit seats recline.

Best for Sleep

If you can sleep on a flight, you will want to get a seat that allows you to get rest.   

A bulkhead seat is best if you need more legroom before you can sleep. There won’t be anyone in front of you and you can stretch out.  Window seats are great if you like to lean to one side while sleeping. Seats to avoid include those right by the toilets, the galley, and aisle seats to avoid your neighbors from disturbing your slumber as they get up to stretch or use the lavatory.

Seats for a Larger Person

Larger passengers will find an aisle seat to be the most comfortable. Those seats have just one passenger seated next to them should the middle seat be taken. It’s possible to raise the aisle armrest to make more room.  But watch out for that cart!

Some airlines accommodate larger passengers better than others. Air Canada permits larger passengers to request an extra seat free of charge for travel within Canada. Delta Air Lines prioritizes seating larger passengers next to empty seats, when available.

The Best Seats on a Plane

  • Best seat for sleeping: A window seat in a bulkhead row.
  • Best seat for a tight connection: A seat closest to the front exit.
  • Best seat for minimizing the effects of turbulence: A seat over the wing.
  • Best seat for legroom: A bulkhead or exit-row seat.
  • Best seat for extra space without a seatmate: A seat towards the back.
  • Best seat for peace and quiet: A seat near the front.
  • Best seat for passengers of size: An aisle seat.

How can you know which is the best seat on an individual flight?

To find the best seats that accommodate your needs you can scan SeatGuru to get the specs for your specific flight. You can review each seat on the aircraft and see the pros and cons of each seat on that plane by simply putting in the route or flight number into the search function.

Airline Seat Map

Airlines also have seat maps on their site. When you purchased your flight, you were provided a seat map to select a seat. Note: The top of the map is the front of the plane or cabin, and the bottom is the rear of the plane or cabin.

Seat maps aren’t to scale, so it may appear there’s a huge aisle or galley area on a map, this will likely not be the true configuration. Each seat is indicated by a single square. When you see three squares together, this means three seats are next to each other. Gaps running vertically through the entire seat map represent an aisle. Gaps between rows horizontally usually represent either an exit row or bulkhead.

A gap between the seat and the wall as shown on the seat map means the shape of the aircraft curves narrower at the rear, so it cannot accommodate three seats in that space. Such seats could mean extra storage between the seat and the window.

Select a Seat That Works with Your Needs

Reclining: Seats in front of the exit row don’t recline, while on planes with two exit rows, the first row of seats does not recline while the second might. Some bulkhead seats have limited recline, and the last rows often do not recline, either. And I speak from experience when I tell you that the people in the seats that don’t recline really hate the people in front them when they recline their seats. I’ve seen major arguments!

Tray Tables and Power: Seats with tray tables stored in the armrest can decrease the seat width. And if you’re planning on using your computer you will want to make sure your seat has power outlets.  Note: If the outlet does not work, there is nothing the flight attendants can do. You will need to negotiate a plug with your neighbor.

How to Get the Seat You Want

Your seat choice is all about personal preference. Knowing which seat to select to avoid turbulence or get a reclining seat will go a long way. Make the most of your experience by reviewing seat maps to get what you need and avoid what takes away from your experience. Once you know which seat you want, there are a few ways to increase your chance of getting it.

Upgrade to Main or Premium economy

Basic economy fares typically don’t allow you to select your seat at booking, but most do at check-in. You get what is left. If you want to be certain you get the seat you want, it will be worth the upgrade to main or premium economy so you can select your seat when you book.

Book Early

Booking early (but not too early to get the best fare) also helps ensure you get the seat you want. More options will be available. Some airlines don’t allow you to pre-select your seat at all while others always charge extra to select seats at booking.

Paying for Better and Best

It’s about paying for more in the airline seat selection. If you want to sleep, stretch out, get the window or get off the plane first, sometimes you’ll need to spend a little to pick your seat before check-in or get a better seat like an exit-row or bulkhead seat. 

Check in Early

If the airline or specific fare doesn’t allow you to select a seat when you book, or only shows a certain number of seats you can select upon booking, be sure to check in online right at 24 hours before departure. You will be prompted to select seats that you couldn’t before, or that weren’t originally available for selection, like frequent flyer seats which can open up when these fliers upgrade.

Here is what I do:  I buy premium economy and don’t select a seat or I select a very inexpensive one that suits me, then I go to the ticket counter and ask if there are any upgrades available and then I buy an upgrade to business class if the price is right!  

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