Which Seats Are The Best On A Plane?

Which seats are the best on a plane? There;s no question that first class offers the best seats on a plane, but there are tips for getting the best seats possible even if you are in economy class. "Oh there's...

"Oh there's no question but that first class is the best!" declares Patricia Blanche, owner of La Cañada Flintridge Travel in La Cañada, California. "Where else are you going to find a bed where you can actually stretch out?! Yes, you pay for it, but it's definitely heaven compared to sleeping in a seated position on a long evening flight or having the person next to you start snoring in your ear."

"In terms of the best seats on an aircraft, the hierarchy here is first class followed by business class. On some carriers such as British Airways, Cathay and Singapore Airlines, they have what is now called your 'premium economy' which gives you about 10 inches more legroom. You pay about $500-$600 more on those tickets depending on what class of service is left or available at the time you make your reservation. It usually gives you coach food and you also have to buy your own liquor but the extra leg room is something that most people really want, especially on long flights that are cross-country or out of the country."

She reflects that meal service on planes has changed dramatically over the years. "Some of this," she says, "is just because the kitchen areas have gotten smaller in order to accommodate more seating. On economy carriers such as Jet Blue you're not going to get a meal at all but, rather, a selection of cookies, chips, and pretzels. What this has done is prompt travelers to buy take-out food prior to boarding which means that, in the confined space of an airplane cabin, you're going to be smelling the Chinese food, pizzas, nachos and whatever else...all at once! No matter where you're sitting, it's hard to get away from!"

"All of the premier customers," she continues, "get the better seating which is closer to the front. This is where the frequent flyer system came into being because the perks of being able to cash in miles, plus upgrade to better seats, encouraged people to fly more and build a customer loyalty with a particular airline. The downside of this, however, is that the more frequent flyer seats are given away, the more this cuts into the allocation of a carrier's business fare tickets. The business seats, of course, are what many airlines are making their big profits on. That's why you see so many of them that are now operating in the red because the amount of perks they're giving away in terms of free flights isn't keeping the bills paid on their rising fuel costs."

Blanche compares the rest of the plane - the economy seats - to steerage. "This is where you can squeeze in as many people as possible! If you go through an online service that allows you to choose your seat assignment at the time of booking, by all means do it. As for open seating arrangements on the day of boarding, generally people prefer to be as close as possible to the mid-portion of the aircraft because they think it's the most stable. In terms of safety, there are those who argue that the back of the plane is the best place to be; just as many others think that the front portion is safer. The reality, of course, is that if something tragic happens and the aircraft goes down, it's all going to go down at once."

Then there's the subject of economy seat configurations. Boeing 767's have a 2-3-2 arrangement. What this means is that the odds are good that you won't be stuck with the dreaded middle seat that makes you feel like a human sandwich for the entire flight. The odds change to 1 in 3, however, if you're on a 757 or 737. On larger aircraft that have 5 seats in the middle row, the worst of all worlds is to be dead center. These configurations, though, are ideal for parents traveling with children because they can respectively "bookend" the brood and ensure they're not getting up and running around.

If you're up to the task of assuming emergency row duties to assist the flight attendants, head for an emergency exit row as soon as you board. It should be noted that these seats are not assigned in advance of check-in because the ticket agent on the phone or online has no idea if the traveler making the reservation is physically up to the task; seeing them in person is the only way they are going to know. Emergency exit rows, of course, give you lots of additional leg room.

If it's a long flight and you're planning to recline, make sure that you choose a seat that can accommodate that. The seats directly in front of the emergency exit row and those seats which have bulkheads behind them are not good choices for that reason.

Last but not least, if you and your beloved are traveling together and it doesn't seem to be a full flight, it's recommended that one of you take the window and the other take the aisle. Since nobody likes middle seats, they're going to be looking for an open aisle or window seat, leaving you with extra space in the middle for holding hands.

© High Speed Ventures 2011