Whether it’s a quick interstate trip or a long international flight, finding the best seat on a plane can make all the difference. When travelling for work you want to land in your destination fresh and ready to do business, not tired, stiff and sore. Not all plane seats are equal; some have extra legroom, some are noisier, and some are located near the toilets. So no matter if you prefer the aisle or window, or if you’re sensitive to noise and looking for a good sleeping spot, the list below has the best pick seat for any type of traveller to make your next trip more comfortable.
1. Avoiding noise
If you’re flight is a long overnight one, you’ll probably be wanting to squeeze in a bit of sleep, so finding a quiet spot will be high on your list. To avoid engine noise from the outside of the plane, keep clear of the back of the plane. Engine noise is deflected backwards, so sitting in front of the wing is your best chance of avoiding external noises, especially if you are seated on the window.
Within the cabin itself, try to find a seat in the middle of the cabin. The main areas where passengers congregate are the toilets and snack areas, and these are generally located at the back of cabins, so if you’re on the aisle and don’t want to be disturbed by noisy passengers, stay away from the back. Seats at the back of the plane tend to be bumpier, and sitting towards the back also means you’re one of the last passengers to get off the plane after landing.
Similarly, the bulkheads at the front of the cabin are where families with babies and young children sit. This is because there is extra room for bassinets in these areas. Because it’s much harder for infants to equalise the pressure in their inner ear, they can experience a lot of pain when the plane begins descending, causing them to cry. So try and find a seat in the middle of the cabin to avoid potential noises from each end.
2. Extra legroom
While bulkheads offer extra legroom, the better option is exit rows. This is because the bulkhead seats often come with additional problems – there’s no seat in front of you so all your carry-on items must be in an overhead locker for takeoff and landing, and the pull-out video screens are usually smaller than the seatback screens. Also, the tray tables are also stored in the armrest of the seat, meaning the seat width is slightly narrower than other seats. So to avoid these problems and get a bit of extra legroom, try for an emergency exit seat. The rows are spaced further apart to allow for emergency access, and there’s no bulkhead wall to reduce the room for you to stretch your legs out.
3. Extra elbow room
Trying for extra elbow room can be a bit of a gamble. But if you’re desperate to stretch your elbows out look for a seat down the back of the plane and away from doors. The areas near the doors fill up earlier as most travellers prefer to be close to them. If you choose a seat towards the back, it’s less likely that the middle seat will be filled as middle seats towards the back are considered even worse seats than middle seats towards the front and near the doors – you’re one of the last people off the plane, it’s bumpier, and you get your meal later. This way, you can enjoy extra elbow room with nobody next to you. The risk, however, is if the flight’s full.
4. Aisle seats
If you prefer to sit on the aisle, the best aisle seats are those in the centre section of the plane. If the plane has a 3-4-3 configuration, sitting on the aisle of the centre section means there will be fewer passengers needing to move past you to access to the toilet or to stretch their legs. The middle seats in the centre section are also less desirable to passengers and are usually last to be filled, so you may even be lucky enough to have a spare seat next to you.
5. Quick meals
If you want to get your meal as quick as possible so you can enjoy the remainder of the flight uninterrupted, sit towards the front of the cabin, as food service usually starts at the front. Even better still, consider ordering your meal online before the flight as these meals are brought out first before anyone else's, giving you even more sleeping time.
6. How to get the seat you want
Now that you’ve decided where the best seat for you is, how can you make sure you get that seat?
Booking early is your best chance of securing your desired seat. As the departure date gets closer, the seats will fill up and the number of pre-assignment seats available will be smaller. However, if you can’t get your tickets early for whatever reason, make sure to check in online as soon as possible, or get to the airport early on the day. Getting to the airport early also gives you a chance to ask whether any new seats have become available. If other passengers have upgraded or cancelled at the last minute, there may be a chance for you to snag a better seat on the day.
Secure the best seat on your next flight
No matter how long your trip is, having a pleasant flying experience can make or break your business trip, so make sure you get in early and find the perfect seat for you on your next business flight.