a mountain with a city and water

No matter what’s going on down below, the world always looks beautiful from up above. But if you’ve ever been on a plane, or rather, on the wrong side of the plane, you may have noticed that the world can be a lot more beautiful on one side than the other. Yep, half the plane is going to get a great view, while the other half may miss out.

We combined our knowledge of the best side of the plane to sit for amazing skyline and other iconic views, with the knowledge of our venerable Facebook group, and can now offer a lovely master guide of which side of the plane to sit on, for the best views of your favorite cities. And just to be clear, Left means it’s best to sit in airline seats A, and Right means K airline seats, or the closest equivalent..

Editorial Note: with all airports, approaches are based on wind. While these are the best practices, as agreed by countless frequent travellers, wind conditions may mean that you could still end up on the wrong side. But you probably won’t…

New York LaGuardia LGA – Left Side

Approaches into LaGuardia from South, West or just about anywhere else often involve a flight along the East River. That means spectators on the left side of the plane will be virtually directly above the iconic Manhattan skyline, with the perfect angle to grab a snap, just like the one above. If you want to take it to the next level, plan for a sunset landing.

a bridge over a river with a clock tower in the background

London Heathrow LHR – Right Side

Some London approaches come in over Windsor Castle and the countryside, in which case the Left side is the best seat, but if you want to have the best view of the more commonly used approach along the Thames, the right side is your place to be.

On approach into Heathrow, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the O2, Parliament, Big Ben and beyond. You can only pity the people on the left as you wind your way into Heathrow!

a large building with a bridge in the backgroundSydney Kingsford Smith SYD- Left Side

You pretty much can’t go wrong sitting on the left side into Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. On many approaches you’ll get untouchable views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney skyline, and on the off chance you approach from somewhere else, you’ll get solid beach views coming in to the coast.

Some people say right, but I don’t think they are! Sydney is a gorgeous approach, and equally fun to fly out over, as you zip past the skyline, and perhaps Bondi Beach.

a tall monument and a buildingWashington DC Reagan DCA – Left Side

Aside from being one of the world’s most convenient airports, DCA offers travelers on the left hand side of the plane a true thrill, with an approach along the Washington Monument and along the river. If you are extra nerdy, the right side often views the Pentagon, and sometimes even Langley.

Even in the worst of weather, you should be able to gain a lovely glimpse of this well mapped out capitol, and in the best of weather, you’ll have a postcard worthy view. Into Washington National, there’s just no contest – left side it is on approach, perhaps also left side on departure.

a group of huts on a small islandBora Bora BOB – Left Side

Nothing screams I’m on vacation like pool blue waters set against lusciously green jagged mountains. For a vast majority of approaches, you’re going to want to be on the left side flying into Bora Bora, and if you are smart enough to follow that advice, your happy holiday vibes will kick off long before you deplane, and you may be rewarded with a brag worthy photo before you even reach your ocean facing infinity pool villa.


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Sometimes the view from the sky just can’t be beat. Can anyone name that city? Hint, they’ve just discovered ice. #avgeek #plane #sunset #sunsetporn #firstclass #ba

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Las Vegas LAS – Right Side

The Las Vegas strip is unlike any other. Perhaps, that’s because it’s a mash up of all the world’s other skylines in one. If you’re looking for picture perfect views of Vegas, and perhaps even the Grand Canyon, opt for the right hand side.

During most weather conditions, your plane will line up to a straight in approach with the skyline on the right. With such close proximity between the airport and the skyline, you won’t even need to pinch zoom your photos.

a mountain with a city and water

Cape Town CPT – Right Side

Like all airports near a major ocean, wind can shake things up, but more times than not – the right hand side is your friend. Sitting on the right hand side of the plane into Cape Town should, fingers crossed, bring Table Mountain views and a beautiful glimpse of this extremely lovable city by the sea.

No matter what, you’ll get some Southern Ocean brilliance on approach into CPT, Cape Town.

Rio De Janeiro AerialRio Santos Dumont SDU – Right Side

A right hand window seat into the domestic Santos Dumont Airport is an insane visual treat which makes Rio De Janeiro more stunning than ever. So much so, it can actually be worth building in a connection from another domestic city like Sao Paulo just to use this little domestic airport.

From either direction, the right hand side will offer stunning views of the city or the Sugarloaf, as you weave your way in on this exhilarating approach. As far as bucket list aviation geek experiences go, this is up there.

a bridge with many sailboats in the waterSan Francisco SFO – Left Side

Heard about some famous bridges in San Francisco? If you’d like to snap the perfect shot, or just get ultra excited about arriving into this hilly city, sit on the left hand side. Assuming it’s not covered in fog, you’ll get beautiful views throughout the entire approach as you weave the rugged California coastline and into Headlands.

This advice applies best to all flights from the East, such as most of America or Europe, but flights from Asia may take a different path. Even if they do, left is better!

a city next to waterDubai DXB – Left Side

Dubai is one of the more unpredictable approaches, but for most flights, especially those from Europe, the left hand side tends to have more luck. Assuming there’s no sandstorms to be found, fingers crossed for epic views of the Palm, Burj Al Arab and other iconic landmarks dotted along this thriving oceanfront metropolis.

a boat on a canal under a bridgeVenice Marco Polo VCE – Right Side

It’s safe to say that Venice is a city you actually have to see to believe. For many, the concept of a city without streets is too much to handle.

On a vast majority of approaches into this dreamy part of the world, sitting on the right hand side will offer great views of the city and the Grand Canal. With close proximity between the airport and the city, this is yet another view that gives you an absolute birds eye perspective.

a city by the waterChicago O’Hare ORD – Left Side

Weather and Chicago are “a thing” but the left hand side is typically the most rewarding going in both directions. On the way into Chicago you’ll see the magnificent lakefront skyline, including the famed Willis Tower, and on the way out, you’ll most likely see it as well.

On a beautiful summer day, or even a cold grey winter day, sitting on the left hand side really can bring lovely views.

a woman walking in a cityMadrid Barajas MAD – Left Side

There’s a lot to love about the beautiful Mediterranean hills surrounding Madrid, but if you sit on the right side that’s pretty much all you’ll see during most standard approaches.

For more enticing views, including the stunning and neatly laid out city. Madrid is bundles of fun, and sitting on the left hand side for this most commonly used approach will make you a winner long before the tapas start flowing.

Feel free to leave a “where to sit” tip for your favourite airport in the comments!

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. Great topic!
    Seattle: Most of the time flights land from the north so you definitely want a right hand seat (and a left one if departing to the north) – great views of downtown and the Olympic Mountains.

  2. Are you sure you don’t mean right side for DXB? If arriving from the west then surely you will only be able to see the Palm and Burj Khalifa from the right hand side (K) seats because the Airport is to the north?

  3. Which side of the plane is best on flight from Denver to Seattle at night? Arriving at 9:48 pm in late August so, I am assuming it will be too dark to see Mt. Rainier.

  4. For Austin, landing on the right, takeoff on the left. The vast majority of the time, the airfield runs north/south. Right side on approach gives you views of the UT tower, the state Capitol, and downtown skyline. Left side on takeoff provides a view of Circuit of the Americas, especially if the plane is using the east runway.

  5. AMS, more often than not you will be flying out of the polderban, so I would say right side. If you fly south, left side will most likely give you the best view of Rotterdam.

  6. Great topic!
    San Juan, Puerto Rico (left side)
    You’re right about Chicago ORD, but if you fly to MID right side is your best option.
    Question, Which side is best flying into Pittsburgh, PA?

  7. Istanbul… coming from the SOUTH (I.E. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon)… sit on the RIGHT SIDE – clear view of All of Istanbul.

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