Travelers know the struggle when it comes to airplane seating arrangements: the war over the armrest, debates on who gets to sit next to the window, a child kicking the back of your seat, the merciless lack of legroom.
Scoring the best seat in the plane seems like an impossible dream reserved for special people (e.g. you’re in first-class or have connections to your local airline). On the contrary, there are a few tricks that can help you secure the best seat in the plane.
What are the Best Seats on a Plane?
Not all coach seats are equal. The best seats on the plane are seats close to the front, as well as window, aisle or exit row seats.
The duration of your flight is also a factor when it comes to selecting the right seat. For example, overnight or long-haul flights will be more comfortable if you score a coach seat next to the window so you can rest your head.
On the other hand, an aisle seat near the front of the plane is perfect for a short business trip. If you are a nervous flyer, a seat toward the middle of the plane is better since there is less turbulence.
If you want more legroom, exit row seats are the best seats. However, they’re not appropriate if you are traveling with kids. Children under the age of 12 and 15 years old are not allowed to sit in the exit rows (depending on the airline’s rules). By law, infants are also not allowed in front or immediately behind of an exit row.
Some flyers prefer “bulkhead” rows, aka seats positioned behind barriers like screens, curtains or walls. Since there are no chairs in front of you, you need not worry about another passenger reclining. However, these rows can be uncomfortable and cramped. Plus, you won’t have a spot to keep your personal items under.
The middle seats are generally undesirable seats. The same applies to rows near overhead movie screens and restrooms due to the high traffic. So, if you’re not keen on ending up seated here, it’s best to start planning for your next trip.
Techniques to Score Better Airplane Seats
To make sure you don’t end up being reclined on or inconvenienced by the lack of legroom, consider the following techniques:
Buy your tickets early
The number of available seats dwindles as the travel date approaches. In most cases, you can’t choose the best seats a day before your flight since they have most likely been booked by others. So, the earlier you book your flight, the better your chances at scoring the best seats.
When booking a flight, consider going for flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday, aka the “not-so-busy” days for flights. If you can’t buy your tickets in advance, check-in online ASAP before your flight so you can choose a seat.
Sign up for a frequent flyer program
. This is a tried-and-tested technique. Providing your frequent flyer number during reservation secures a good seat, especially if you’re a loyal member. Airlines often treat their elite flyers well, always putting them first in line for seat upgrades.
To become a proud member of the frequent flyer program, you must have at least flown 25,000 actual air miles in a year on a particular airline. Check your online account to ensure you’ve been credited your miles and hold on to your boarding passes just in case. Once you’ve earned enough miles, you get seat upgrade privileges.
Select your seat during booking
Most booking engines and airline websites enable flyers to choose their seats when they buy a ticket. Some even allow flyers to select a seat later. In most cases, this process is free, but there are some airlines that charge additional fees for advance seat booking.
Purchase a better seat
Many airlines now offer better economy-class seats for an additional fee. The extra money guarantees more legroom plus a few inches of seat pitch. It may sound like an unnecessary add-on, but if you are on a long-haul flight, the comfort will be worth it.
Before you book the seat, make sure you know that you’re getting your money’s worth. For instance, you might seat close to the front of the cabin, but that might be the only thing you’re paying for (e.g. your seat doesn’t come with meals).
Confirm your seats at check-in
You can check in your seats online up to 24 hours before your departure. During this time, you can confirm your assigned seat or choose a better one. Keep your eyes out for last-minute offers for discounted seats.
Where you seat on the plane dictates the comfort of your travel. It’s best to reserve the best ones as soon as possible rather than regret it when you realize you can’t even squeeze your legs in front of you.