Let’s be honest, there are no perfect seats on a flight, unless you are in first or business class in your own row or suite, or on a private jet. If that is your flying style, then there is absolutely no reason for you to read any further. For the rest of us, we have to strategically plan our seat attack. Before becoming an Executive Assistant, I really didn’t think much about choosing a seat on a flight. To be honest, I used to pick a window seat in a row with a good number. I was much more superstitious in my younger days. Everything changed once I started booking flights for others. God forbid my executive was stuck in a seat that didn’t recline, or was located near the lavatory, or in the bulkhead, or in the back of the plane, or the very worst… the dreaded middle seat. Off with her head!!! Having to constantly research seats for others made me a little bit of a seat snob. They always rub off on you, those picky execs! Here are a few tips for snagging a good seat on a plane…
Are you a window or aisle person? This really should be a situational answer, and there are a few questions you need to ask yourself…
- How long is this flight?
- Do I want to sleep without being disturbed?
- Do I need to get up a lot to use the lavatory or to stretch my legs?
- Do I have a connecting flight? If so, how much lay over time?
- Is there a better seat closer to the front of the plane?
- Do I want the bulkhead?
Let’s break it down:
If your flight is under 5 hours, then go with which ever you prefer more, aisle or window. If your flight is over 5 hours and you want to sleep without being disturbed, then go with the window. If your flight is over 5 hours and you want to get up a lot, then go with the aisle. It’s better than having to hop over the person next to you who won’t wake up from your polite nudge. I have been there before, and of course he woke up while I was mid hop. Awkward!
Front or back of the plane?
I always go with the front of the plane. I like to be up and out without having to wait on everyone ahead of me.
The only time I would suggest booking a seat in the back of the plane is if you are in economy on a really long flight, and only if there are a lot of empty seats. If luck is on your side, then you might get an entire row to yourself. I wish I would have known this little tip before I went on a 14 hour non-stop flight to South Africa. If you have the extra money or points to splurge a little on premium economy for those really long flights, then please take my word that it is beyond worth it! Most importantly, if you have a connection with limited time, then always chose the seat closest to the front. Also, be sure to take into consideration that the first flight can be delayed and you might have to really book it to your next flight.
If you appreciate the extra leg room, then go for it. Please keep in mind that you will have to put your personal carry on item in the overhead compartment, and depending on the plane you may not have a pocket to hold your items in front of you. Also, sometimes people flying with babies will request the bulkhead, which means there could be a lot of crying. Personally, I don’t mind the bulkhead for short flights, but I would opt for a different row on long flights. I’m super short, and on some planes my feet do not reach the floor if I sit properly in my seat. Sad, but true! That’s why I like to have my trusty back pack under the seat in front of me as it has a dual purpose and also serves as a foot rest.
You have chosen your seat, now what?
Do yourself a favor and go to seatguru.com. Look at the seat you have chosen and make sure it is a desirable seat. Either print your itinerary or add the seat number to the appointment you create in your calendar so you can keep track. If you book a flight well in advance, then you may want to check on your seat every few weeks to make sure the airline didn’t bump you out of your carefully chosen seat. Also, if a better seat opens up then then you can claim it before it’s too late. Lastly, check in online as soon as it opens, which is usually 24 hours prior to the departure time. Before you check in, give that seat map one last look. Sometimes you’ll get an even better seat simply because people have either been granted their requested upgrades, or they decided to cancel or switch flights at the very last minute. It’s always worth that last look.