a row of seats in an airplane

Last year, the world was rocked by a conclusive psychology study which concluded that those who prefer window seats are more selfish than aisle passengers. You’ll never look at a plane the same way again. When most passengers select seats, that’s about the only question on their mind: window or aisle? For true pros though, there’s so much more to it. From which side of the plane to where the lavatories are, quite a lot goes into the perfect seating assignment. The more you know…

Sunset aerial view through airplane window over wings. Flying at sunset and looking out of the window and enjoying the panoramic view. Travel and transportation conceptsWhere The Sun Is

From trying to see your laptop screen to snapping beautiful sunset or northern lights pictures, few people put the mind grease in to figure out which side of the plane to sit on. If you’re flying from the US to Europe, sitting on the left side of the plane would likely give the best chance of seeing the Northern lights overnight, since the left side faces furthest north. There’s also one side thats glaring wit sun during the day and one that’s not. Put the mind to work.

Exit Row Issues

Exit rows can be the best thanks to extra legroom, but they can also be a real hassle. When seated in an exit row you can’t store anything by your feet, so things like backpacks must go above you. If you are working on something or constantly need to forage for snacks and amusement, an exit row can be much more trouble than its worth, depending how tall you are of course…

Lavatories And Galleys

Some people can pull off the eye mask and headphones but others not so much. If you’re a light sleeper or have sensitivity to noise, smell or light, you’re going to want to stay away from bulkhead seats, which are those nearest the areas where cabin crew members prepare food, or people visit the lavatories. To find these, use things like ExpertFlyer Seat Maps or SeatGuru to check out detailed views of each plane.

rows of seats with monitors on themWhich Exit The Plane Uses

While many people jump at the chance to snag seat 1A, its often one of the worst for getting on and off the plane. If you like making a speedy exit upon landing and legging it toward the curb, or worse – immigration, you’ll want to take note of where the planes doors open. Unfortunately, a lot of this comes down to experience, but it’s an important consideration. On an Airbus A350, the middle door at row 7 is often the one that opens, not the forward door at row one. If you’re in economy, the further toward the front of the cabin the better.

Rows With Missing Seats

Every plane is different, even the same plane on a different airline. On many planes there are magical rows missing seats, or offering virtually unlimited legroom thanks to bulkheads. That’s true even in economy which can make the experience so much better than every other seat. Using free tools like the ExpertFlyer seat map or SeatGuru layout can make a huge difference. Some economy seats are better than premium economy, if you can find and book them fast. One seat neighbor is always better than two!

Meal Service Fails

Most airlines still serve meals front to back so therefore if you haven’t preordered your meal or are desperately hungry, sitting in the back is a terrible idea. Be sure to do a little internet snooping and see if you can figure the best seat based on all the above, and how quickly you can get served. If you want to be a true pro though, just bring your own food, self cater and let everyone else fight over the chicken or fish dilemma.




Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. You got it all here.
    What I consider most is extra legroom, less noise (so no-no to seats near lavatory) and a quick exit. If I can have a seat in an emergency row much better.

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