Many of us have experienced this scenario: You’ve nearly completed the process of booking a plane ticket online when the airline’s reservation system prompts you to select a seat. Decisions, decisions. How do you know if 8A is better than 14C? What if you end up in one of those seats that doesn’t recline? Instead of anxiously pondering the fate of your comfort at 40,000 feet, wouldn’t it be nice to have some guidance?
Luckily, there are some genius websites and apps out there to help point you in the right direction.
Resources for Finding the Best Seat
Get seat advice for more than 700 seat maps, backed by 45,000 flyer reviews. Users simply enter the airline and flight number for an upcoming trip and Seatguru provides a seat map for that specific flight. The maps shows which seats have been rated as a “good seat” by previous flyers and also the seats to avoid. Read detailed seat reviews from past travelers to get an idea of the storage space, legroom, armrests and more for the seat you’re considering. The maps also contain information on the locations of power ports, overhead televisions, emergency exits, lavatories, closets and galleys.
A great tool for flyers that want to get out of the middle seat or just find a seat on a full flight. The website offers a free Seat Alerts feature that is also available as an iPhone/iPad app. Through the Seat Alerts tool, travelers can select their preferences (aisle, window, etc.), even if the seats are occupied. ExpertFlyer then notifies the traveler by email or text when a seat becomes available. The site also provides frequent flyers with services that make it easy to obtain an award ticket using miles and business/first class upgrade alerts.
This site is similar to Seatguru, but offers a quick and simple glance on the best and worst seats on a specific flight with details on legroom, proximity to bathrooms and seats with restricted chair recline, or no option to recline.
Advice from an Industry Expert
We spoke with Chris Lopinto, co-founder of ExpertFlyer, for further insight into selecting and securing the best seat for different types of travelers:
What are the most popular seats or rows on the plane?
Exit rows, the first few rows of the cabin, and of course window and aisle seats towards the front are the most popular. Unfortunately that means these seats are usually reserved for the elite frequent flyers or those willing to spend money on the seat assignment. If those reserved seats aren’t allocated, they are usually made available either at check-in or at the airport, depending on airline.
What sections of the plane offer the most legroom?
Usually the exit rows and bulk head seats (the first row of seats in a cabin). However, keep in mind that any row of seats in front of an exit row won’t recline. So that means if a plane has two exit rows, the first row may have more leg room, but the seats won’t recline.
Air Asia recently announced that they are banning children from the first seven rows of economy. Currently there are no domestic airlines that do this (or at least they don’t publicize it). If you are looking for some peace and quiet on a flight, where do you recommend sitting?
Screaming babies aside, sitting away from the galleys or lavatories will give you the quietest flight. Seat ratings websites such as SeatGuru, which is integrated into Seat Alert and our mobile app can help you determine the layout of your flight
Where would you advise families traveling with small children to sit?
Together, but that may not always be possible. Lately it has been quite common for families to have to pay for at least some of the seat assignments if they want to sit together. This is one of the reasons why we created Seat Alerts; to help families flying together.
Sitting in The Back Has Its Advantages
Here’s another tip: As the competition for the front and exit rows is high, consider sitting in the back – a recent study by the Discovery Channel shows it might be the safest part of the plane. Scientists intentionally crashed an empty Boeing 727 into the Mexican desert to improve aviation safety. They determined that travelers in the back of plane could have literally walked away from the crash, but those in the front wouldn’t have been as lucky. Read more…