Picking the right seat can be the difference between a good flight and a bad flight experience that you would rather forget.
If you don’t want to be randomly assigned a seat and end up stuck in the middle seat then you need to know how to choose your seat on an airplane, so you can have an enjoyable flight.
Decide What You Want
Deciding where you want to sit on a plane will depend on a number of factors. For long flights you may prefer the window seat, so you can sleep. If you have a short layover you may prefer to be at the front of the airplane to get a rapid exit.
When you are traveling in a group that will play a part in where you sit if you all want to sit together and what others in the group may prefer. Or if you know there is likely to be turbulence then you may want to sit over the wing where it is more stable.
Parents with young children may choose to sit at the rear of the plane where they are closer to the flight attendants and the lavatories. There are also fewer people than in the middle of the plane to disturb if your baby starts crying or your toddler has a meltdown.
Some people prefer the aisle seat as it allows you to get up and move around, especially on long haul flights.
Choose the seat that you would prefer taking into account the flight duration, any traveling companions or the type of aircraft you will be flying in.
What Are Your Options?
The options for choosing your airplane seat include the more obvious things like being next to the aisle or window. But there are other things you may not have considered such as the width of the seat, how much it reclines or the amount of legroom you will have.
Wide seats are more comfortable if you are traveling with a child on your lap or for larger passengers. Some seats have limited or no reclining option, Spirit has no reclining seats at all.
If checking seats on Seat Guru be aware that a seat’s legroom is referred to as ‘pitch’.
Consider whether you will want storage for carry-on items such as your phone or tablet. Some seats don’t have a seat in front, with the usual pocket to store items in.
If you need a USB port or power outlet make sure you choose a seat with these facilities.
Get A Seating Plan
Different aircraft will have different layouts, and it is important to check this before booking a seat. Don’t assume all planes have the same internal plan as they can vary widely.
For this reason, it is a good idea to get a seating plan of the exact type of aircraft you will be traveling in. Some airlines will have these on their websites or apps but not all will.
If you can’t get the seating plan from the airline website use Seat Guru. Just put the airline and flight number into the search bars and the seating plan for the aircraft type will come up.
You can then choose where you would like to sit from this seat map. It’s also possible to read reviews for the different seats on that particular type of airplane. It will give you a detailed breakdown of the various types of seats on the plane as well as their dimensions.
The seating plan that you get from Seat Guru will list the number of different kinds of seats, and it will be color coded. The colors on the seat plan indicate the reviews that the seats have received.
Green shaded seats are good, yellow is a warning, so you should read any comments on them. Red seats have typically received bad reviews.
If you want some extra legroom without having to pay for it, you may consider choosing one of the exit row seats. These are rows that lead directly to the emergency exits and which passengers would have to pass through to exit the airplane in an emergency.
However, be aware that there are strict FAA regulations about who can sit in exit row seats. The seats can only be allocated to people who fulfil certain requirements. This includes being able to complete a list of tasks.
Passengers in these seats must be able to find the emergency exit, follow and understand a set of instructions and be physically capable of opening the emergency exit door.
For this reason those under 15 years of age, pregnant women, those with mobility issues or visual or aural impairments cannot sit in these seats. Anyone who is responsible for another passenger isn’t permitted in these seats either.
Anyone with infants is not allowed to sit in the exit row or in the row immediately behind or in front of it.
A bulkhead seat is positioned directly behind a wall or curtain in the airplane. Different planes will offer different benefits of bulkhead seats.
But in general if you don’t want anyone sitting in front of you and reclining their seat into your lap this is a good option. There is also often extra legroom in these seats.
If you have a baby the bulkhead seating may offer a bassinet option. On the other hand if you want to be far away from babies then this may be one to avoid.
Do You Have To Pay To Choose A Seat?
Some airlines will allow you to pick a seat without charge but a lot more will ask for a fee for this service. The amount will vary depending on the individual airlines.
Average prices can range from less than $5 to over $20 in economy. Premium services can cost more than $100 to reserve a seat.
When deciding whether to pay for a specific seat, consider whether it is worth the extra cost. Unless you are traveling alone you will need to consider the needs of your companions or family members.
Also consider the length of the flight and how comfortable you want to be. Or perhaps you need to work while you are traveling and need room for a laptop.
Which Airlines Let You Pick Your Seat?
The majority of airlines allow you to choose your seat, some may charge for this service though. Currently Southwest Airlines do not allow seat selection and so you won’t be able to choose your seat with this carrier.
On a one way flight Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines don’t charge for seat selection. JetBlue and United charge less than $10. Delta charges $15 for choosing your seat and American Airlines and Spirit charge around $20. Frontier charges the most at $23.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing your seat so spend some time thinking about it and consulting the seating plan of the aircraft. Don’t forget to consider other traveling companions in your choice.
Finally, if an airline is charging for seat selection decide if it’s worth paying for before committing yourself.