How to Choose the Best Airplane Seats – Part I

First of all, let’s look at some definitions:

Seat Pitch is the distance between one seat and the same point on another seat directly in front or behind. It is often confused with “legroom” but it is not exactly the same thing. Legroom is the space available for passengers to stretch their legs while seated. You should be looking for the seats that have the largest pitch.

Seat Width is the distance from armrest to armrest. In economy class this is typically around 17 inches but it varies greatly between airline carriers and aircraft types. If a seat is missing an armrest, the seat cushion will be your reference. You should be looking for the seats that have the largest width.

So, if you are comparing flights, make sure you check the tables provided in each of our aircraft pages.

Make sure you compare in-flight amenities

Having a personal video screen or one near your seat with good visibility can make a difference. It will keep you entertained with movies and shows and it can help you relax with a variety of music. Power ports are a crucial part during flights since they will provide nonstop use of your laptop computer, DVD player or game console. For kids and business travelers this is definitely something to watch out for.

Try to select your seat at time of booking

To increase your chances to get a great seat, it is crucial to reserve your seat as early as possible. Whether you get your tickets via a travel agent or a booking engine on the Internet, try to reserve your seat ASAP. It may take some extra time but it will definitely pay off when flying.

If you book with a travel agent, ask them to get you the seat of your choice. If you book online and seat selection is not available, call the airline immediately after you have made your booking to make your seat selection with a phone agent and double check you still have that seat a few days before departure. Airlines sometimes change the aircraft type before departure dates and pre-reserved seats are re-assigned and you could lose the seat you so selected.

Seatmaestro allows you to enter your flight information (travel code and last name) and view your complete itinerary detailing your flights and the corresponding aircrafts where you will be flying in. You just have to click on the aircraft type and you will be directed to its seat map.

For more information click here

In the case that you do not know your travel code or your flight hasn’t been booked with Amadeus Global Travel Distribution System, you may enter your flight information (Origin and Destination)and you will find the details of your flight. You just have to click on the aircraft type and you will be directed to its seat map. For more information click here

Window or aisle seats?

Both kinds of seats have “pros” and “cons”.

Window seats: no one will be climbing past you to get in and out of their seat. However, you have to climb over other passengers to get to the toilet and the curvature of the fuselage might make very tall-bodied people feel claustrophobic.

Aisle seats: if you are tall bodied and like to stretch your legs during a flight, an aisle seat can be a good choice. They are easy to get out of if you are in a rush to get off the plane or to go to the toilets. However, the people in adjacent seats might bother you if they want to get up and down and you might find yourself knocked about by passing people or trolleys.

In general, middle seats are to be avoided. The persons in the adjacent seats might bother you if they want to get up and down and you’ll have to climb over the person in the aisle to get in and out. If sandwiched between two large people you might feel squashed! So, stay away from them.

Day flight or night flight?

In general, window seats are preferred during night flights. You can sleep without being bothered by anyone wanting access to the aisle. Also, if you are flying economy you can always rest a pillow against the side of the plane. For long routes, night flights are ideal since you will be able to sleep.

Seats at the back of the plane and near toilets/galleys

You should try to avoid seats at the back of the plane. Almost certainly they will have limited recline (bulkhead behind) and since they are usually next to galleys and toilets, noise and smell can be unpleasant!

You should also try to avoid seats next to toilets and/or galleys. These are noisier because they have people gathering around them. Smell from the toilets can be very unpleasant, especially during long flights. Avoid seats close to the galley since they are also noisy and the bright lights may disturb you during sleep.

Emergency exits seats 

These are obviously close to the exit in case of an emergency! You will get extra legroom and the seat in front almost certainly won’t recline. However, they do come with restrictions. Closeness to the exit could make it chilly and most likely, you will have limited recline (depending on the airline).

Hand baggage must be stored in the lockers above your seat for take-off and landing. The tray table is often on the seat in front, but it may be in the armrest, which makes the seat marginally narrower.

Bulkhead seats

The bulkhead is a dividing wall between cabins on long haul flights and, on short flights, the bulkhead is usually a sliding curtain. No one will be reclining in front of you and “sometimes” you get a lot of extra legroom which is great. You will be amongst the first to be served food/drinks.

You may get more leg/knee room but might not be able to stretch your legs depending on cut-outs and the seat may be marginally narrower if the tray table is inside the armrest. Hand baggage must be stored in lockers during take-off and landing. These seats are often given to families with young children and this can be a nuisance. Baby bassinet fittings are located in the bulkhead in front.