These are the Best Airplane Seats for You, According to Frequent Flyers
Surprisingly, none of which are in first class.
Traveling isn’t always pretty or cheap, for that matter. But with more and more experts weighing in on the best days to book your flight and divulging space-saving tips when packing your suitcase, you probably think you’ve got this whole flying the friendly skies thing down pat, right? Well, even for the most avid travelers, there’s no exact science to picking the perfect seat on an airplane. For airlines that bypass seat assignments (ahem, Southwest), aisle enthusiasts will always declare those seats as the best for legroom, while window lovers often sing the praises of the panoramic view, just above the wing. In fact, the only thing frequent flyers could ever seem to agree on was that both seating options are miles better than the middle seat— until now, that is.
Both the window and aisle seats have their benefits, but what if your needs go beyond making a swift exit or catching a breathtaking view of the city? Trial-and-error methods and loyal devotion to a specific section is great and all, but when you’re faced with deciding which seat or area is the most desirable for sleeping, staying warm, traveling with a baby, and storing your things, you’ll have to be a little more strategic. Fortunately, we've gathered a few pointers from flight attendants and those who travel often on how you can soar through the skies comfortably, even if your next journey is a long one in economy. Ready for take off?
- Best: Back exit row.
- Why?: It’s the roomiest section on the plane because people have to be able to exit in case of an emergency. You also have complete freedom to extend your legs into the aisle. But not all exit rows are created equal, as is the case with the front exit row, which doesn’t recline because there’s someone directly behind you.
- Best: According to a study conducted by Popular Mechanics, the seats near the tail of a plane.
- Why?: We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if things were to go south and the plane took a nosedive, the seats—with the aisle being the best—behind the edge of the wings will increase your chances of survival. Should there be a crash, the first few rows are the most risky.
- Best: No surprise here—window seat on the left, near the middle of the plane.
- Why?: Frequent flyers report that windows are slightly off-center on the left side, making it easier to lean against and rest your head on the side of the plane, rather than opting for a neck pillow. Not to mention, you have more control over the light coming in, and the middle section of the plane has less foot traffic to the bathroom and galleys.
- Best: Window seat in window exit rows.
- Why?: They don’t have an armrest, giving you more space to move around.
Baby on Board (or Kids)
- Best: Bulkhead seats for older kids, and near the back of the plane for babies.
- Why?: Bulkhead rows that don’t pull double duty as exit rows are perfect because there’s more room for kids to play and sit on the floor. You can also request or book a bulkhead bassinet seat. Without any seats in front of you, you don’t have to brave those glaring stares when the kids get a little loud. But for babies, you may want to think about being closer to the bathroom near the back of the aircraft for access to the changing tables.
Faster In-Flight Service
- Best: A seat near the front of the cabin.
- Why?: Got the munchies? Passengers in the front section of the plane get served first.
- Best: Seats over the wing.
- Why?: We all dread turbulence, but the seats over the wing can lead to experiencing a less bumpy, unsettling flight. Think of it as a see-saw: the center is more balanced and doesn't move as much as the front and back. Plus, you won’t notice the plane rotating as much near the wing.
- Best: A seat towards the front, preferably an aisle seat.
- Why?: You won’t be able to hear the roaring engine noise in the front row. Window seats also tend to be loud, so if the front row isn't up for grabs, the next best thing is an aisle seat a few rows back.
- Best: Anything but the exit rows.
- Why?: Not so much about the best here, as it is avoiding the worst. If you’re cold-natured, you should bypass the seats next to the exits, which are significantly more drafty than other seats. Flyers suggest sitting at least two rows away from exit doors and the back of the plane. Other potential dodgy areas are window seats. Depending on where you’re traveling, it might be a couple of degrees colder, particularly if you’re leaning against the window.
- Best: Head to the back for the rear seats.
- Why?: Most airlines, with the exception of United, have a back-to-front loading policy. Those who are in rear seats have the greatest chance of utilizing the overhead bin. Bulkhead seats and exit rows tend to be a problem when it comes to overhead space.
- Best: Seats on the left side of the plane, in the front.
- Why?: It’s no secret those in the front get to deplane first, but what you may not know is that the main exit door is usually on the left side of the plane, so passengers will start emptying from that area.
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If all else fails, head over to seatguru.com to pick a good seat. Seating maps are available for most of the airlines and aircrafts there, and the site even shows you which seats are more desirable, although the general consensus is that JetBlue has the most legroom in economy because of their spacious rows and seats.