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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.