Choose The Best Airplane Seat

Here’s a cheery chart that purports to show you how to choose the best seat on an airplane. Bulkheads give you more legroom, but they also attract parents with babies. Seems seats in the back seem the best bet, you’re more likely to be able to store your luggage in the overhead, as well as survive a crash.

Chart is after the link, not the picture at left.

How to choose the best airplane seat [I love charts]

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  1. Dutchess says:

    Isn’t that what Seatguru.com is for?

    • humphrmi says:

      Yep, that chart pretty much sums up seatguru.

      • physics2010 says:

        Well if by sums it up you mean they show a picture of a single airplane and generalize rather than indicating the best seats on each type of plane…then yes this is exactly like seatguru.com.

    • mobomelter says:

      I was about to say the same thing. I actually opened up this article assuming that’s the website they would be plugging.

    • Captain Walker says:

      Well duh. but you can’t do an article about seatguru.

      Or can you?????

    • freelunch says:

      and as an added bonus, seatguru doesn’t wast time with ‘best seats to survive a crash’ (rather pointless), and instead gives you power locations for specific planes so you know what row/seat will be best for your 10 hour international flight.

  2. UnicornMaster says:

    how many paranoid people are booking seats in the back of the plane right now?

    • Short_Circuit_City says:

      That’s finewith me.

    • MikeM_inMD says:

      Leading edge of the wing for me.

    • Purr says:

      The back of the airplane is safe because it is so loud and bumpy that you pass out from the migraine and temperature issues. When you are passed out, you’ll survive most traumas better than people who are panicking.

      Leading edge of the wing for me. I love watching the view AND the engines.

  3. Ilo says:

    Absolutely, just check seatguru.com. They will tell you all of the issues specific to your flight’s type of plane on your airline.

    Also, the idea the space between seats gets better in the back is often wrong. Several airlines have “premium coach” seats with slightly more leg room in the front part of the coach section.

    Also, people often advise you to avoid seats next to bathrooms. There are often people standing over you waiting in line, and the bathroom can smell.

    • squirrel says:

      The worst seats on the plane have got to be the aisle seats in the last 3-4 rows of your typical single-aisle aircraft.

      Why? Drink carts bumping your elbows, and even worse: some of the people waiting in line don’t need to just “tinkle” and their ass is right about head level and they will need to turn and move aside for other passengers – bumping your head.

      I’d rather put up with a center seat on a cross-country flight.

  4. Lucky225 says:

    Maybe I’m just cheap or I haven’t flown in a long time, but I don’t recall middle isle seats on Southwest, or movies for that matter :/

    • humphrmi says:

      I think that would be because, this chart doesn’t apply specifically to Southwest, but rather to all airlines in general. Just a guess.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s aisles, not isles. Pet peeve.

      • Gulliver says:

        If only the part of the airplane between seats was more like an Isle, with free flowing margaritas and your own personal masseur. I like their version better.

    • EarlNowak says:

      Planes with two aisles are known as “Widebodies”. They’re used mostly on transcontinental and international flights. Typical widebodies include the Boeing 767, 777 and 747 and Airbus A330, A340 and A380.

      Southwest only flies one model of plane, the 737, which is a “Narrow-Body” (only has one aisle). Common narrowbodies are the Boeing 737 and 757 and Airbus A320 series.

    • Short_Circuit_City says:

      Planes with various configs:
      1-2: ERJ 145
      2-2: Embraer 170, 175 and 190; CRJ; Saab Q400 (turboprop)
      3-2: MD-80 and MD-88; Boeing 717
      3-3: Boeing 737, 757; Airbus 319, 320, 321
      2-3-2: Boeing 767
      2-4-2: Airbus 330 and 340
      3-3-3: Boeing 777
      3-4-3 Boeing 747

      I’m sure I’m missing a few and occasionally seat layouts differ (British Air used to run a 3-4-3 config. from Heathrow to the Virgin Islands) but this is pretty much any flight you could be on domestically or direct international (in standard economy).

  5. Jacquilynne says:

    I choose my seat based on where I’m most likely to have an empty seat beside me. Basically, every chance I get (at booking, web check-in, airport check-in), I rechoose my seat assignment, and each time, I take the seat closest to the back of the plane (but not the last row), where one of the three seats in a bank is already taken, but the other two are not. Then I take the other window/aisle seat, leaving the middle open. A lone middle seat near the rear of the plane is amongst the least desirable seats imaginable on a plane, so unless the flight is very, very full it’s not likely to be chosen.

    Any time I have another chance to recheck my seat assignment, I do the same thing, looking for a further back row that meets my criteria. I’d guess that on flights that are nearly but not entirely full, one of the few empty seats on the plane is next to me upwards of 75% of the time.

    • partofme says:

      I guess I just get stuck with full flights more often, but I’ve often thought about using that strategy, in a modified form. I usually buy early, so I grab a window/aisle that is right up front first. Then, when we’re really close to the date, I’ll take a look and see how full the plane is. If it’s half empty, I’ll move back and grab a more open row (or maybe just wait until I’m at the airport, and see if they can move me around). That way, instead of continually reducing the quality of my seat under the hopes that I have an open on next to me, I get the best available seat for a full flight with the option to change if there’s more room open elsewhere.

      • UnicornMaster says:

        more often than not nowadays flights are full. airlines are cutting back and canceling flights, and then overbooking the ones they have in order to ensure every load is at max capacity. Unless you’re going to East Bumble Nebraska, your flight is probably full.

        • Jacquilynne says:

          I mostly fly within Canada on WestJet (which doesn’t overbook) or cross-border (which tend not to be overbooked like domestics are, since there are fewer of them to shunt people off to), so it’s actually relatively rare for me to be on a completely full flight.

  6. alSeen says:

    I hate bulkhead seats, at least on the airplanes I’ve been on.

    The armrests are normally solid and not movable. So if you are a normal sized human you get stuffed into a small space and can spread your legs. This is fine if you are by yourself and don’t want your neighbor intruding, but when you are traveling with your family a little closeness can be a lot more comfortable.

    You have to store your items overhead which means no easy access if you are in the window seat.

  7. NarcolepticGirl says:

    nice chart.

    I’ve always picked the window seats on the wing or a little before it or after.
    I’ve never flown without being in a window seat, I think I would freak out if I had to sit in an aisle.
    Also, No way would you get me to sit near a bathroom.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      oh, and I select a window seat in an empty row. If there are no totally empty rows, then I’ll pick one where there’s no one in the middle.
      If I check in at the airport, I’ll change my seat if there’s someone in the middle seat.

      I’ve always had pretty good results getting the seats I want.

    • webweazel says:

      I have flown exactly twice in my life. Both times, someone would have had to hold a gun to me to pull me from the window seat. Window seats directly over the wing should be for the sleepers who want to lean, because the view definitely sucks there. Save the good views for the ones that like to paste their faces to the glass. Or traveling with young ones, so there can be two faces pressed to the glass.

  8. Etoiles says:

    I sit as near the front as I can, because if I can’t see the plane behind me, I can assume it is is large and comfortable and not at all a tiny confining claustrophobia-inducing tin can of death.

    Also if I’m near the front, I can get off the wretched thing faster.

  9. Jevia says:

    Seat assignment/choosing always seemed so messed up to me. On a recent trip, I had a terrible time trying to get seats for my family of 4 anywhere close together, I felt lucky I could get 2 sets of 2 seats together, even though they were rows apart. We were also flying with my husband’s parents/sister and they too tended to be all over the place.

    On one leg of the trip I did get seat much closer together, but it was odd. The plane was 3 seats, aisle, 3 seats. For my husband’s parents/sister, I had to go 2 seats and 1 seat, with the aisle between them. When we got on the plane, we found the other 3 seats in this row were occupied by 3 other young ladies traveling together, again 2 in one part, 1 in the other. The two groups were able to re-organize so both groups could sit with each other. It just seemed odd how both groups got separated in the first place, neither one could book the 3 seats together.

  10. sir_eccles says:

    I thought the whole sitting in the back to survive a crash thing was just an urban myth?

    • jeffbone says:

      It is. You have to actually wedge yourself inside the “black box” (painted orange, or orange w/black stripes, natch) to survive the crash.

  11. Gulliver says:

    OK, I will say it. If the plane crashes, my concern will not be which seat is best for survival. I’ll take my chances siting up front. Survival may mean instead of dying you are a brain dead vegetable drooling buckets every day.

  12. giax says:

    The best seats are those furthest away from small children.

  13. joshua70448 says:

    Why did you link to the notes section of that page? Why not just link to http://ilovecharts.tumblr.com/post/1036939151/how-to-choose-the-best-airplane-seat-via-kurt?

  14. CTXSi says:

    I saw this diagram linked elsewhere and am not particularly impressed with it. For example, bulkhead seats LOOK like they have more legroom because there is no seat in front of them, however in a regular seat you can extend your legs under the seat in front of you (provided there is no luggage there). In a bulkhead seat there is usually a solid wall in front of you preventing you from extending your legs. A bulkhead seat has more KNEE room, but not necessarily more usable LEG room (at least for people 6′ and taller)

    • ElBobulo says:

      Yes, I agree! odd how we keep hearing about the supposed legroom of the bulkhead seats, but it’s just not true. You lose the space you would normally have under the seat in front of you. I just hate sitting in them, my legs start to hurt after a while – I’m 6’0″

  15. HogwartsProfessor says:

    It doesn’t matter to me; they all suck! It’s on my bucket list to fly first class somewhere, just to see what it’s like. Preferably on a non-US airline.

  16. pantheonoutcast says:

    I try to specifically ask for the seats next to the emergency exits. Lots of legroom, no children or other “difficult” passengers. Plus, in the case of an emergency, I can be the first one to get off and away from the flaming wreckage.

    Dual-wielding beers is optional.

  17. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    yeah they don’t mention the seats in the back have to put up with the dude who just ate 5 beef tacos from taco bell and bombs the bathroom back there.

    yeah it happens all too often.

  18. fusilier says:

    Heh, I like the little Superman flying in the clouds, :D

  19. RxDude says:

    Last time I flew, the attendant on one flight announced at the beginning the children under 15 should not be seated in exit rows, because of the “duties” they may have to perform in case of an emergency. I found it odd on the next leg of my journey (on the same model of plane), when the hipster douchebag with his toddler expected the other occupants of the exit row to move to accommodate him and his sprog, that the flight attendant didn’t mention that tidbit.

  20. MikeM_inMD says:

    Leading edge of the wing for me.

  21. bubbledumpster says:

    But, I like small children…

  22. SJActress says:

    I’m 5’2″ and 100 lbs, so basically any seat is more comfortable for me than someone else. If I travel alone on a full plane, I sometimes feel altruistic and take a middle seat. If the plane isn’t full, I try to get the window seat in the right front row, which has OODLES of leg room!

  23. Frank says:

    Did anyone catch the filename? tyler-durden-awesomeness.gif

  24. ywgflyer says:

    I sit up front every flight. Nice and close to the washrooms, the seats are fairly comfy, and there’s a good amount of room. The view’s not all that bad, either.

    Of course, they DO pay me to ride in that seat.

    I swear, I wasn’t THAT guy that forgot to turn off the seat belt sign the last time you flew!