Window Or Aisle? Seat Selection Tips For A Comfortable Flight

Seat Selection Tips for a Comfortable Flight

You’ve booked your tickets and packed your bags, ready for your flight. All that remains now is getting onboard the plane and enduring the next couple of hours flying to your destination. Most people do not give much thought to planning and selecting their seat for a flight, but turns out it actually pays to do so. Having a good seat can make a difference between a comfortable or unbearable flight and below are some tips to help you make an informed decision.


Flight Timing and Duration

Does it matter when your flight is taking place and how long you are flying? Turns out it does! A window seat may be more preferable to an aisle seat for sleeping on an intercontinental red-eye flight over a short regional hop during the day, where the reverse is true for easy access and better personal space.


Know which aircraft type you are flying on

Airlines operate a variety of aircraft types and configure their planes differently to suit operational needs. Seat 20A on an Airbus A330 can be quite different from seat 20A on a Boeing 777 (and sometimes vary between jets of the same model). Finding out which aircraft is operating your flight and studying the seat map will help in identifying seats to avoid, such as those near galleys and lavatories which tend to see more activity and unwanted interruptions to rest.


Mini cabins are better

Would you rather be seated with another 15 or 50 people? With less passengers, mini cabin sections are not only quieter, but also benefit from faster service and more personalized attention from crew. It is for this reason that the upper deck cabins on the Boeing 747 and Airbus 380 are preferred over the main deck, with the added benefit of a more intimate cabin ambiance, making for a better flight experience.


Emergency exit rows are not for everyone

A common misconception is that seats at an emergency exit row have better legroom to stretch out. While this may be true in most cases, legroom at emergency exit row seats may be obstructed by the housing of the inflatable slide at the door and be located near galleys and lavatories. On narrow-body aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families, emergency exit row seats often have no recline capability to prevent obstruction to the overwing exit doors.


Front, Rear or Middle of the Plane?

Are seats in the front (yes!), rear (maybe) or middle of the plane better? While a Business or First Class seat is certainly better than Economy Class (and these are almost always found up front), the answer to this question is really down to the individual as each has its pros and cons.


Being seated near the front allows for more legroom (especially in bulkhead rows) and quick disembarkation, but will often also include bassinet points for fliers with infants. Seats in the middle of the cabin may be tighter and difficult to get in and out of, but minimize the effects of turbulence with their position nearer the aircraft’s center of gravity. In contrast, seats at the rear of the aircraft are the bumpiest in-flight, but will often provide additional space due to the curvature of the fuselage.


Direct aisle access where possible

Admittedly, this applies more to Business Class fliers. Nobody likes to climb over another passenger (or have someone climb over them for that matter) with their seat extended into a bed on a red-eye flight, making seats with direct aisle access a preferred benefit. While more airlines are moving towards a 1-2-1 configuration guaranteeing every seat access to the aisle, many carriers still retain a 2-2-2 or even 2-3-2 layout for Business Class, leaving the difficult choice of the privacy of a window seat or the convenience of an aisle seat.

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