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Best seat on an airplane

I am new to flying and I will be taking a Rick Steves tour next summer for my birthday to London. I will be traveling alone and was wondering which is the better seat to be in on a flight (not including first class). I have heard some terrible stories about the different seats but they are from people with no experience on an actually airplane nor a long flight.
I hope someone out there can give me a little insight.
Thank you everyone.

Posted by
977 posts

Jackie - any of the exit aisles if you are lucky enough to score one. I'm sure our well travelled fellow forumers will be able to give you some hints and tips on how to obtain such a seat.

Posted by
5314 posts

Check your airline and plane on

I always choose an aisle seat in the middle section only because no one ever requests a middle seat in the middle section. I do this in the hope that no one will be in the seat next to me. However, the last few times that I have traveled, the planes have been packed so this strategy has not worked.

Posted by
953 posts

I don't know what airline you're flying, but on Continental, we were able to pick our seat. And up until we flew, we could have changed our seat if we wanted. You pick the seat by looking at a map of the plane, so you can see the exit rows...

Posted by
17 posts

I travel a lot and have found to be a great source of info-- not perfect, but pretty good. First you have to pick an airline you'll be traveling on, then try to figure out the type of aircraft that would be on the flight you think you'll take (take a look at their flight schedules to figure this out), then you can see the layout of the seats. Given a choice, I usually pick aisle seats away from the back of the plane or galley areas (too stinky and noisy) For a treat, take a seat on the window side on the left of the plane enroute to the UK- you should get a great view of the northern lights that way. Just a few thoughts. Happy travels!

Posted by
11503 posts

On some planes the last row of seating has non reclining seats. They suck. Try and book an exit row, ( more leg room) and I prefer aisle seats so I can get up and down as I please without crawling over a seat mate.

Posted by
389 posts

Ditto what everyone has said, but I'd add that on the bigger planes there are usually 2 exit rows. The first row seats do not recline and on that long a flight that is a huge problem! Also, the seat nearest the exit door is really cold, so if you don't have on pants and socks and probably a coat to wrap around your legs, I'd say away from that one. My personal preference is close to the wings since the flight is the smoothest there, but if you like to look out the window (if you're new to flying that is fun) you don't want to be over the wing as you don't get to see much. I personally don't like the bulkhead seats (at the front of a section) as you have to store your carry-on in the overhead bins and that means getting up to get a book or whatever.

Posted by
484 posts

The Boeing 767-300 which American uses has a "mini cabin" which are rows 10-13 and it is separated from the rest of coach class and has a more private feel to it, although row 13 is next to the lavatory which can be a little congested at times.

Posted by
4 posts

Go to! It requires you to do little work and figure out what type of plane you're flying on and sometimes airlines force you to guess between two options with their website listings. The website usually recommends you to sit on aisles, or on emergency exit rows and avoid things like bathrooms (can't lean back as far and can be stinky) or galleys (noisy flight attendants). It saved me a headache on a flight to Sydney this summer that I am grateful for! Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
74 posts

Also try to avoid at all costs the back 15 rows of the plane. This is where the tour groups and group bookings are sat. Unless of course you really want to be back there with the high school band and the family reunion.

Posted by
152 posts

Use SeatGuru. However, we booked a Virgin Atlantic 747 from SFO-LHR 3 months ago, leaving on 9/30. I got us good coach seats close to the front based on prior experience and SeatGuru info. About a month ago I checked our booking. Guess what! Now we are 5 rows from the very rear! Virgin reconfigured the plane; it is now almost all Premium Economy seats, except the last 10 rows on a 747! I called their customer service: tough luck, you poor chump, you are now in steerage.
So, do the best you can with seat selection, but in the end you are at the mercy of the airline.

Posted by
252 posts

I always try to pick a seat with a power outlet for my electronics. Makes the 13 hour trip not so bad when you have your own entertainment and not have to worry about batteries.

Posted by
4 posts

I found that on my flight over to Europe on a Boeing 777 one of the better seats I had was right behind the lavatories in the 1st row of economy class. I had a little more leg room and although there was no underseat storage it was well worth it.

Posted by
190 posts

It realy depends on what you are going to do during the flight. I sleep the whole way to Europe, so I get a window seat so no one will crawl over me. Then I time my "potty breaks" to just after the meals so I'm not crawling over anyone else. Works great for me!

Posted by
808 posts

Aircraft configurations vary. Do vistit as mentioned earlier. Or your carrier's website.

As an Incharge Flight Attendant, I can suggest the following:

-Dress in layers and bring a cardigan.
-The aft (rear) of the air craft can be drafty as well as seats closest to exits. (Crew working this position KNOW it's going to be chillier than the forward cabin)
-If you are seated next to an emergency exit, and you are an "Able Bodied Passenger" you must agree to assist in an evacuation and will receive a special emergency related briefing. If you don't verbally agree, you will be forced to relocate. So if you don't want this responsibility, I strongly suggest you do not request these seats. (It's all about safety!)

For the more "social" passenger travelling could request to be seated near an F/A's (Flight Attendant's) Jumpseat. Most of us enjoy chatting with passengers. Passengers keep us entertained and energized!

Fly Safe!