It’s a never ending question that is open to debate. Which seat is a better seat?
The superlative seat on a plane depends entirely on your priorities and needs as a passenger.
If you want the best service
This is a no brainer, and it reflects on you as a person. As soon as you step onto the plane, smile and make proper eye contact with the cabin crew who greets you. It’s surprising to note that the cabin crew who greets you are often being blanked by passengers upon entry, to put it in words of a crew member, “to have someone clearly see me and ignore my ‘hello’ and walk on by is the most dehumanizing experience.”
Let’s all learn to be a little courteous, shall we?
And if you want the fastest service? Order a slightly different meal (vegetarian or fruit platter for example), as these always come out first. And sit at the back of the plane rather than the front. Flight attendants are less keen to respond to requests at the front because they have to parade whatever item you’ve requested – a pillow, or second drink, say – all the way up the gangway. This often prompts other passengers to notice and ask for the same thing, setting off an irksome chain reaction.
How true is that, we’ll probably not know.
For the best view
In some cases this depends on which airport you’re taking off from. For example, a seat on the left side of the plane is best for catching a great view of the Hollywood sign from Los Angeles-LAX, and the same goes for Sydney-SYD if you want a prime view over the harbour. More broadly speaking, if you’re one who must spot a view of the outside world, you always want to avoid a window seat that’s located over one of the wings, where your view will be blocked entirely.
If you’re safety conscious
Airlines and plane manufacturers will tell you that all seats are equal when it comes to matters of safety. However, certain quarters believe some seats are more equal than others. In a survey conducted by a travel magazine some years back, passengers sitting near the tail of a plane were 40 per cent more likely to survive a crash than those in the front. Verdict? Sit as far back as possible if you’re safety conscious, just for your peace of mind.
If you want a speedy exit
You’re on a short city break to a domestic or a regional destination and you’re travelling light with just a carry-on case in the overhead luggage compartment. You might want to maximise the amount of time you spend at your destination and minimise the time spent on the plane and airport. So it’s natural that you need to grab a seat at the front of the plane on the left, which is where the exit is located and where passengers leave the aircraft from. It doesn’t really make any difference if it’s a single-aisle plane though, just in case you’re wondering, since people in front will usually board last but exit first.
If you want to sleep
Sleep is hard to come by at 30,000 feet, where many things seemingly are conspiring against you nodding off: the hum of the engines; the passenger next to you needing the loo; the lack of neck support in your seat etc. Some seats, however, are better than others for getting some shut eye. Window seats give you control of the window shade and a place to rest your head; they also mean you don’t need to be woken up every time the passenger next to you needs the toilet. You’ll probably also able to get some sleep if you’re sitting in the middle seats of the center sections in a wide-body aircraft where you won’t be bothered by other passengers climbing over you and away from the window.
If you want a better dining experience
Studies have shown that plane food tastes better at the front of the aircraft, where it is quieter and the air is more humid. Dry cabin air and the loud engine noise all contribute to our inability to taste and smell food and drink. Sit as close to the cockpit as possible if you want to make plane food taste better. More often than not you’ll also get served first.
If you don’t like turbulence
Turbulence of course does shake the entire aircraft, but experts claim there are some seats on a plane where lumps and bumps will feel less intense. If you are vulnerable to slight disturbances, sit in the middle of the plane, above the wings, which help keep the plane steady when the going gets tough.
If you need more legroom
Seats in exit rows have more legroom than most, as do seats at the bulkhead. Such seats are, however, in high demand and can come with caveats: passengers in exit rows, for instance, must be willing to assist in the evacuation of the aircraft during an emergency. Some airlines charge for seats with extra legroom. A seat at the bulkhead, which means fellow passengers won’t have to step over you en route to the loo as there’ll be enough room for them to climb over you. Failing that, any aisle seat.
If you’re travelling with kids
Travelling with children, especially young children, can be pretty daunting. Will they cry, scream, will they be excited, will they sleep like a log, will you need to accompany them on multiple bathroom visits? Any of these scenarios will play out as children have very short attention span. More often than not, families with young children usually do get a seat at the bulkhead, which has more room and is near the bathroom to minimise disturbances to other passengers. However, if your young child screams and yell away, please do something about it. Asking the child to keep quiet isn’t going to work.
If you want to spread out
Flights will take off with seats still not filled and there are ways to increase your chances of sitting next to one of them. If the airline has not yet replaced its check-in staff with computers, ask the person over the counter how busy the plane is. If it’s not busy, ask politely if they’d be kind enough to put you next to an empty seat. It works surprisingly often.
If you’re dealing with a computer, check in late and choose your seat manually before printing off your boarding pass. Be warned, though: this leaves you more exposed to delays going through security and in extreme cases could result in you missing your plane.
If you are flying with a companion, you can try booking both the aisle and the window seat. You will often find that the middle seat – as it is the least favoured by anyone, solo or with someone – has been left empty by the time you come to board. If someone do sit in the middle seat, they’ll more often than not be happy to swap one of your seats with you. Win-win.