Photo Credit: SQ Talk

Learn the insider tricks from a seasoned traveller and ex-cabin crew.

Photo Credit: SQ Talk
Photo Credit: Seat Maestro

Once you’ve booked and paid for your airline ticket, then next most important part of your flying experience is selecting —albeit requesting— where you’re going to sit.

As an seasoned traveller and ex-cabin crew member, I’ve seen a fair share of aircraft configurations. And there’s more to seating than meets the eye.

For most people, especially those who are vertically challenged and suffer from knees-hitting-back-of-seat-in-front syndrome, obtaining the holy grail of aircraft seats—an exit row—is the number one priority.

Most airlines allow you to pay a little extra to confirm an exit row, but not all exit rows are created equal. So are you getting your money’s worth or are you paying for a seat that may result in a less than enjoyable journey?

Exit row or not, below are some things to consider before selecting your seat preference.

IS IT NEXT TO THE GALLEY?

The galley: where all the action happens. If you’re the social type who loves a good chat to crew, or someone who loves being woken by freshly brewed coffee three hours prior to landing then this is the area for you!

But if you prefer to watch your movie in peace, or catch a few hours sleep, without people or carts pushing past you throughout the flight then this is a place to avoid.

DOES THE AIRCRAFT DOOR INFRINGE ON YOUR SPACE?

This is typical with Boing 747 aircraft.

On paper it looks like you’ve got a lovely stretch of carpet in front of you, but those aircraft doors bulge on the inside and if you’ve picked the window seat you’ll be stretching your legs out on an angle and possibly playing footsies with your middle-seat neighbour.

If you’re travelling on this type of aircraft then you may wish to sacrifice the window seat on this occasion. Let’s be honest: window seat and legroom…you’re just being greedy.

ARE YOU NEAR THE BATHROOM?

Photo Credit: iStock

Some travellers love the idea of being close to a bathroom. I’ve never understood why. Yes, it’s convenient when you need to go, but during have you considered the the remaining 300+ passengers (on a large aircraft) will also need to go? I can guarantee during the peak times when the whole plane is waiting patiently for their turn, they’ll be waiting patiently in your personal space.

And honestly…the smell…

Why? Why would you think this was a good idea?

ARE YOU CLOSE TO THE BAR OR LOUNGE?

Photo Credit: iStock
Photo Credit: iStock

This one is for those lucky enough to be in the pointy end -or upper deck – of the plane.  Just like being close to the galley, the bar or lounge is a definite noise generator. As your fellow passengers enjoy those continuous glasses of champagne, their voices get louder and your noise cancelling headphones and earplugs are going to be put to the test.

Again, check online to see which is the last row before the bar and select a seat forward of that. A stretch of the legs to walk to the bar never hurt anyone…

REMEMBER ONE THING: CURTAINS ARE EVIL.

One thing I have learned during my time in the skies is that curtains are not your friend.

They become a physical challenge for everyone on board (crew included) and it is impossible to move through them gracefully. If your seat is the first or last row you’re almost guaranteed to have curtains dividing the sections of the plane and blocking off galley’s and bathrooms.

And nobody enjoys having a curtain whacked towards them every single time a passenger is trying to work out how to manoeuvre through.

It all sounds miserable, doesn’t it. Bathrooms, galleys, curtains…are there any good seats on the aircraft?

Lucky for you there are some handy websites available to help you decide if you’ve picked a winner. Seat Guru, Seat Expert, or Seat Maestro are sure to give you confidence in your seat selection.

What are your tricks for picking the best aircraft seat?