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Booking the Best Airplane Seat

Choosing the best seat when you book your flight

If you’re familiar with flying, you know the importance of getting a good airplane seat. No one wants to be stuck near the lavatory or get the seat in front of the emergency row that doesn't recline. But there are a few things you can do to help narrow your seat selection when you book your next airline tickets.

The exit row

It’s no secret that a seat in the exit row has more room than a regular coach seat. However, the exit row isn’t for everyone. The Federal Aviation Administration restricts fliers under the age of 15 from sitting in the exit rows. This would limit families from occupying the exit rows, too.

Bulkhead seats

Bulkhead seats are the seats directly behind physical partitions on the plane, for example, the walls or curtains that separate the different sections of a plane. Bulkhead seats are good because there are no seats in front of you, so leg room is at a premium. However, this also means that storage room is minimized since you can’t put anything “underneath the seat in front of you.”

Each plane is designed differently so the space may be limited in the bulkhead area. When booking your airline tickets, check to see what type of aircraft you’ll be flying on for your trip. Sites like SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com offer an inside look at various planes to help you choose the best seat based on location and space.

Anatomy of the best airplane seat

So what makes a great seat? That all depends on personal preference, but there are other things to consider when choosing the best airplane seat.

If you’re a nervous flier, choose a seat located over the wing to lessen any turbulence during the flight.

If you’re booking an overnight flight, choose a window seat so you can rest your head between the seat and the wall.

For shorter trips or connecting flights with tight layovers, grab an aisle seat near the front of the plane so you can be one of the first to disembark.

Tips for getting the best airplane seat

In this day and age, you have to be quick to get what you want. This logic goes for flying, too. From getting the cheap plane tickets to choosing the best seat on the plane, the quicker you book the better your options. Here are a few tips from the experts at IndependentTraveler.com to help you get the best airplane seat possible on your next flight:

Buy airline tickets early. The earlier you purchase your airline ticket, the more options you’ll have for choosing the best seat. If you can’t buy your tickets ahead of time, continue to check online for available seats. The airlines will open up additional seats as the flight departure approaches. If this option isn’t available for your flight, get to the airport early and ask an agent to help find the best seat.

Book your seat when you book your airline ticket. Don’t wait to grab a seat. Most providers will ask you to choose your seat during the online purchasing process. Take this extra step and ensure that you’re pre-assigned a seat you can live with. If it’s not the most desirable, you can always check in with the agent at the gate before your flight.

Purchase a better seat. Some airlines (JetBlue , AirTran, United Airlines) offer fliers the opportunity to purchase better seats. These seats generally offer more legroom for an additional fee, but this is a small price to pay for longer flights.

Use the airline agent. The airline’s agent is your friend. When you arrive for check-in, confirm your seat with the agent at the desk. Ask if any new seats have become available and alert the agent to any medical conditions you have that would make seating an important part of your flight. If you need a new seat, be specific when requesting a seat change. Instead of asking for a “good seat,” ask for a window seat near the middle of the plane. Of course, it pays to be kind. Remember that these agents hear complaints all day long so a little appreciation goes a long way.

Join a frequent flier program. Even if you don’t fly that often, joining a frequent flier program can be your best bet when choosing a seat. Signing up for a membership is usually free and there are no annual dues or requirements to being a frequent flier. When you purchase your airline ticket, use your frequent flier number at the time of reservation and you’re likely to get better options on available seats.

Choosing your seat when you book your airline ticket is the best bet to obtaining a decent spot on your flight. Check in online before your flight and confirm your seat, and get to the airport early to avoid being bumped from your location.

 
 
Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.