Aching legs, weird humming noises, squeezing past other people to get to the restroom— these discomforts describe the features of a bad aircraft seat, and rest assured, we’ve all been there. So, where is the best place to sit on an airplane? Is it worth it to pay for your seat, or to sit by your device 24 hours after booking your flight to get that “A” boarding pass? We’ll lay out all the facts using the example of a widebody aircraft so that you can make your decision with ease.
Let’s tackle what region of the cabin to sit in. Which is best— front, middle, or back of the aircraft? If you’re particular about noise, the front of the cabin is your best choice. On average it is quieter than the rest of the plane, and sound from the engines is most diffused towards the front. This area is also less affected by general turbulence. Pro tip, if you’re a first-time flyer or you are bringing one, sit up here.
Sitting in emergency seats is the best option for anyone looking for more leg room, but always be prepared to handle the responsibilities this seat may require. Exit seats with more space are located in the middle of a wide body aircraft. Last but certainly not least to some, for a cool social media photo, sit in the middle of the aircraft. You’ll have a better chance of that picturesque view of the aircraft wing.
When you’re looking for privacy, or the chance of an empty seat next to you, sit in the back. Most airlines load the aircraft front to back, so your best chance of available seats and overhead bins is in the rear of the aircraft. This will also give you quick access to lavatories, and usually faster flight attendant service. Now, is there really that much of a difference between a window, middle or aisle seat? Let’s dive into the specifics.
If you are in a rush for one reason or another, need to get up frequently, or crave more leg room, the aisle seat is your best choice. Psychologically, it’s also better for new flyers, and anxious flyers, to sit in the aisle seat. The accessibility can help reduce general anxieties.
Middle seats are generally the least preferred seat on an aircraft due to their limited accessibility. However, this choice is ideal if you are saving a seat for someone, or if you are bringing a child on board. You can ensure a saved seat beside you, and people in a group are less likely to try and sit in your row. It is also the second-best choice if you know you’ll need to have regular access to the bathroom.
Window seats are ideal if you’re wanting to sleep undisturbed. Flight attendants and passengers are less likely to bump you as they pass by, and noise is reduced in this area. However, shoulder room is limited near the window, due to the curvature of the airframe. If you need extra space, opt for the aisle seat instead.
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