Getting ready for your next trip is just as fun as being at the destination – packing your suitcase just right and weighing your carry-on, deciding on which movies you’ll watch and how long you’ll need to sleep on the plane (especially when going on a long-haul flight).
However, one of the most important factors of remaining comfortable on a plane is the seat you choose. While we’re all familiar with the window seat, the dreaded middle seat and the aisle seat, there are some other considerations to keep in mind when choosing where to sit. In this article, we’re sharing our top tips for how to choose the best seats on a plane to ensure your journey there and back is as comfortable and stress free as possible.
Booking Your Seat Ahead of Time
The first point of call when deciding on which seat to pick is making sure you give yourself and your travelling crew enough time to book seats. Here in Australia, many airlines will give you the option to book your seat as part of your ticket (inc. Qantas and Virgin Australia), while other airlines, like Jetstar for example, offer a cheaper ticket rate and remove the ability to book a seat ahead of your flight.
If you can book your seat ahead of time, we’d recommend it. Not only will it give you peace of mind when you arrive at the airport, but if you’re travelling in a bigger group or with small children, you have control over where you’ll be sitting and it makes it much easier when travelling all together.
What to Look for in a Plane Seat?
There are many factors that go into a good plane seat, so it's important you consider all your options when deciding.
1. Seats Close to The Front
As a general rule, seats closest to the front of the plane are better than those at the back or in the middle. You usually get your meals (if your airline offers food) first and will generally get off the plane quicker than those who are seated in the back.
However, seats right at the front of the plane generally tend to be closer to the bathroom, so if a queue of passengers lining up beside you is not ideal, it’s best to sit a few rows back from the front of the plane. This is especially true if you’re heading on a long-haul international trip, where the plane is much bigger and there are a lot more people.
2. Window, Middle, Aisle
To sit in the window, middle or aisle seat is very subjective and most people will have their preference as to which they prefer. There are pros and cons to all three options:
Pro window seat: Window seats provide great views over your destination and if you’re travelling with children, having them seated at a window with you on the aisle gives you the space you need to enjoy a movie while they can view the outside of the plane.
Con window seat: Unfortunately, you are crowded in, so if you need to get up during your flight, you will needto ask the other people in your row to get out for you. For short domestic flights, this is not too much of a hassle.
Pro middle seat:The middle seat is great for those who are smaller in size and who need more airflow from the air conditioning. If the middle seat is up the front of the plane, you’ll also get food faster.
Con middle seat: The biggest con of being in the middle seat is obviously being in the middle of two people. If possible, we would suggest booking either a window or an aisle seat if you struggle with space.
Pro aisle seat: If you’re a tall person, then an aisle seat is optimal because you only have one person next to you rather than two. You also have the option to stretch out your legs into the aisle during quiet periods.
Con aisle seat: As you’re the first person near the aisle, you will have to accommodate the other people in your row, so if you don’t like being disturbed during a flight or you’re flying during the night, prepare to get up and out if people need to leave their seat.
Exit rows are a great option for people who need the extra space when flying, thanks to the added leg room. However, there are requirements for flying in an exit row, as you will need to be of a sound body and mind to lift and access the doors incase of an emergency and you usually don't have any space to store items during your travel like you would if you were sitting in a regular seat.
One other consideration with exit rows seats is that they come at more of a cost. For domestic flights, they aren’t usually to much more expensive than your ticket (depending upon the length of the flight), but for international trips, they can become quite expensive – if you’re looking to travel cheap, exit rows might not be the best option, however, if you’re looking to be extra comfortable, they are a great long-haul flight saver.
How to Choose the Best Seat on a Plane?
Choosing the best plane seat for you is the most important, so make sure to consider your other flying habits, whether you can easily fall asleep on a plane, prone to motion sickness or are travelling with children.
Beat Seats for Sleepers
If you’re a quick sleeper, then you’ve probably experienced the embarrassing head on a strangers shoulder situation or been awakened mid dream to someone in your row tapping you on the shoulder to get out of the row. If this is you, you’re best suited to a window seat, close to the front of the plane on the left hand side. This way, passengers don’t need to wake you to get out of the row and the wall of the plane offers a sturdy place to rest your head. The front of the plane is typically quieter than the rest and the windows on the left hand side of the plane are usually off center due to the door of the plane, so you won’t have to rest your head against the plastic.
Best Seats When Travelling with Children
When travelling with children, especially toddlers and infants, it can be a hassle trying to get up all the time to change nappies and emergency bathroom runs. Try to book a seat near a bulkhead, as this will provide more room for you and your little one, so if they start fussing, they have more room to move around. Newer planes maye also come with a built-in crib in the wall of bulk-head seats, so it’s best to chat with the airline or travel agent while booking flights to see if this is possible for you.
Best Seats if you Need Extra Space
For planes that are packed in tight, there's very little room to move around. For people who need a little more room, an aisle seat close to an exit row or an aisle seat in an exit row is your best bet. You can lean on the arm rest or put the armrest up completely for more space. With an exit row, the added leg room means you won’t feel as squished or feel like you're intruding on your neighbours space. It also means you can get up when you want and stretch your legs if needed.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the best seats on a plane really comes down to your needs, preferences and what your priorities are, whether you enjoy a quiet place to sleep or need that extra leg room. If you can, opt to fly premium economy or even business class, however, if you choose to fly economy, the above tips will help guide you in choosing the best seats for your next trip.
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