What’s the Best Seat on a Plane And How to Get It

Many seats on a plane have the same price, but not all of those seats are equal in comfort. Variations might be small, such as an inch of leg room, or preferences might vary from one person to another (window seat, aisle seat) but there is ways to guarantee the best seat possible for the price you pay.

delta-economy

Here’s a few interesting stats. 46 percent of people prefer to be seated in the front of the plane, nearly 60 percent prefer window seats, 62 percent want an even-numbered aisle and the most coveted seat is 6A.

People might have different ideas on what the best seat is, so here’s a few tips on selecting your seat based on what matters most to you.

Safety

If you sit near the tail of a plane you are about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows. Seats behind the trailing edge of the wings had the highest survival rates. Also select an aisle seat so you can evacuate quickly in an emergency.

Sleeping

Pick the window seat so you won’t have to get up to let others go to the bathroom. Also pick a seat that’s away from bathroom and service station noise. Don’t stay too close to the wings either, they’re pretty noisy.

Storage

Most airlines follow a back-to-front loading procedure, so if you’re in a rear seat you’ll get first dibs on overhead bin space.

Always do your research

Sites like SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com have tons of information regarding your seating choice. You can find out how much leg room you’ll have, whether the seat reclines, what kind of entertainment system there is to how close you’ll be to the gross lavatory or noisy galley etc. Routehappy.com also allows you to sort by “Happiest,” which is determined by quality-of-life factors like newness of the jet, type of entertainment, size of seat, power outlets, food, etc. Also follow Danny the Deal Guru religiously for news, tricks and deals such as this one.

What to avoid?

That dreaded middle seat, especially on a side aisle

There’s other more obvious choices such as the exit row for legroom, front of the plane to get off first etc. But now that you know what seats are best for you, how can you get those seats? Well here are a few tricks.

Book as early as possible

“Flights generally open 335 days before departure,” says Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor Flights, “but it’s often six or seven months before you see any activity.” If you book early, you’ll have the best choice of what’s available.

Sign up for open seat alerts

You can create a free account with ExpertFlyer.com and you can set an alert to be notified via email when aisle and window seats become available on your flight. For 99 cents, you can be notified when exit rows, two seats together, or specific seats become available on your flight. Information is available for Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, and Virgin America. Delta flights are not included.

Check in early online

You’re usually able to do an online check in 24 hours before a flight. The sooner you check in, the sooner you secure your seat. Plus, many airlines open up new seats (including coveted bulkhead and exit rows) anywhere from a week to the day before a flight, so you can suddenly fight a better option during check in. If your seat selection can’t get any worse than what you already have then hold off and check again when you arrive at the airport. By then there might be some better options available, but some airlines won’t let you change your seat after you have checked in online and printed your boarding pass.

Check with gate agent and dress up

If you’re polite, gate agents can often do miracles. Very few people do this but by just asking, you can get much more value for what you paid. They might “discover” a better seat for you or even give you a free upgrade sometime. Doesn’t hurt to ask while you wait. Also the better you dress, the more respect you get so dress nice. You’ll feel better and have a better chance at an upgrade as well.

When traveling with one other person, always book an aisle and a window

Sounds weird but it makes sense. It might get you an empty seat in between, creating more space for storage and sleeping. A person traveling alone is less likely to book a middle seat so those usually go last. If the flight is full and that middle seat between you and your friend is booked, then you can just swap seats. It’s very unlikely that middle seat person will want to stay in between you two, unless you get off on the wrong foot.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know!

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