Most airlines allows you to pre-select your seat for free before the flight, especially on International routes. I always pick my seat as soon as possible, to make sure I don’t end up with a shitty seat that’s randomly selected by the check-in agent. One of the tools I use is SeatGuru.com, simply plug in your flight number to see the good seats and bad seats on your flight. Remember that not all seats are created equal – here are some tips on how you can choose a better seat for yourself.
Sample seat selection screen for EVA Airlines
- Seats that are close to the lavatory. The area around the lavs tend to get crowded with people waiting in line, especially right after takeoff and meal services. Being crowded means people could accidentally knock your hot coffee off the tray. Furthermore, the area around the lavs are prone to the possibility of unpleasant smells.
- Sitting close to the galley. The galley is where the flight attendants prepare meals for the passengers. There are two issues with sitting close to the galley, one is the light coming from the galley, another is the noise from food preparation; both of which will disturb your sleep.
- Seats that are far back in the plane. Unless you have FF status that allows for priority boarding, it will take quite some time and effort to get to your seat during boarding. Also when deplaning, you will be the last ones to leave the plane. This is more of an issue, especially for International flights where you need to go through passport control. The passengers sitting in the front of your plane, will be forming a huge queue in front of you, this creates delays in getting out of the airport.
- Avoid seats on the wing if you like to look out and take photos. Wings will block a huge portion of your view especially if you are on top of it. Benefits of sitting in business class is that you are always in front of it, therefore you get unobstructed view of below, and you have the option to include the engine in your shot for better composure. In Economy, I always pick my seats early to get the first few rows, to possibly avoid sitting on top of the wing.
- Seats that are facing the sun, although there is window shade, you still need to keep it up during taxi, taking off, and on landing. It may get very hot and uncomfortable if the sun is strong. This is a choice between sitting on the left or the right of the plane. Well, how do you know which side the sun is? Generally this is more of a concern for day-time flights that are flying in the east/west direction. In that case, always sit on the north side of the flight path. For example, if you are flying Toronto to Vancouver, in the west direction, I would pick the K seats (far right). On the return, I would pick the A seats. If you are flying north-south, it wouldn’t matter too much. With the exception of during sunset and sunrise, personally I like sunsets better. So on my flight from Singapore to Beijing departed at 6pm, north bound direction, I picked the A seats, because sunsets are on the west side. If you want to see sunrise, for the same direction, you would pick the K seats.
Try to get:
- Choose exit row if your circumstance allows. Exit rows usually have much better leg room for you to stretch. But the downside is that your arm rest will not move, and on some planes, the seat does not recline.
- Choose to fly a wide-body if possible, for several reasons. It matters more if you are flying business class, wide-body planes tend to have better seats, more recline or even lie-flat. Narrow bodies are only used for short-haul flights, and most of the seats are just a recliners. Another reason is that wide-bodies are the bigger planes, therefore usually a smoother ride, and less prone to turbulence. In addition, under less than ideal weather conditions, they are more likely to be take to take off than narrow-bodies. The most common wide bodies planes for Boeing are B777, B767, B787, B747. For Airbus would be A380, A340, A330, and the all new A350.
- The side with better scenery. I love taking photos from high above, and I always check to see if there are magnificent landmarks along the way, especially right after take off and before landing. One good example are the flights out of Tokyo, on good clear days, you might be able to see Mt. Fuji if you are on the correct side of the plane! In this case, I used FlightAware’s flight path, and found out that I might see Mt. Fuji (marked in blue and red) if I’m on the right side.
Of course we have the greatest debate on window vs aisle. I won’t argue which one is better, there’s no clear winner between the two, as each have their advantages and disadvantages. Although personally I would take window over aisle any day, since I just love the views from 30,000 feet above!
Well, I hope those were helpful tips to enhance your next travel experience. Any comments or related tips, please let me know!