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Finding the Best Airline Seats When Flying Economy Class

Updated on December 13, 2016
Interior of a Swiss Interational Air A332
Interior of a Swiss Interational Air A332 | Source

© Copyright 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.

It’s fairly easy to find the best airline seat when you’re flying business or first class. Every seat in the premiums areas is designed to maximize passenger comfort. This is so you’re tempted to pay the high fares so you can return to them whenever you fly.

Finding the best airline seats when flying economy class is a trickier proposition. Airlines assume that you’re willing to suffer almost any indignity to snag the cheapest ticket. While this may be true, you can still minimize discomfort by choosing the best seat for your preference and current situation.


Sit in front if you want to be the first coach class passenger to leave. (You’ll still have to wait until the business and first-class cabins empty.) This part of the plane has the quietest ride because it is the furthest away from the jet engines. It is served first at meal times, and may have slightly more legroom if “enhanced economy” is part of the airline’s offerings.

But it also suffers the most turbulence because of its distance from the stability offered by the wings. It may be more expensive than other economy class seats due to its being part of “enhanced economy.” Because airlines load passengers from front to back, the front gets boarded last. You may lose any overhead bin space, as passengers who boarded before you store their carry-ons in your space.


Bulkhead seats are those with partitions in front of them. This area is usually assigned to families with babies. They can make use of special cribs that attach to the walls and comfortably hold a sleeping child. The noise and crying from the little tykes makes this an area to avoid if you do not have kids.

Because no seats are in front of you, you don’t have to worry about anyone’s seat back wedging into your knees. But you won’t have as much room to stretch out, and your seat trays will come from your arm rests instead of from in front of you. Finally, you lose carry-on space that is normally under the seat in front of you.

Over the Wing

If you’re affected by motion sickness, seats over the wing boast the smoothest ride. But they may also be the noisiest areas if the jets are mounted on the wings. Your views outside the window are blocked by expanses of white and gray, though you will have greater legroom because the emergency exits are nearby. You will need to be strong enough to operate those exits in an emergency. You may also need to pay extra for the privilege, since many airlines are now charging extra for exit row seats.


Both airline companies and most passengers like to book the front seats first, so if you prefer emptiness around you, book your place in the final rows of the cabin. You’ll also board first and will have the entire airline’s empty overhead bins in which to store your carry-ons. However, you will leave the plane last, may be next to noisy and smelly galleys and bathrooms, and may lose overhead bin space directly above you, since this is where the crew stores extra supplies like blankets, first aid kits and magazines. This area may also be very noisy if jets are mounted near the rear of the plane.

Seating Charts

Once you’ve decided on an area of the plane, you can look at specific seats in the charts provided at the airline’s website. You can also check them at Seat Expert or Seat Guru. The big plus of these two sites is that they detail the advantages and disadvantages of each seat, such as whether it is narrower or wider than normal, whether it reclines or whether it has power outlets. You can typically select your seat when you book your flight, or any time up to 24 hours before departure.


Where do you prefer to sit?

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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      As poor as I am, I still fly whenever I can. I do choose economic seats because I'm not concerned with comfort - just getting to the destination. I tend to sit in the back for the reasons you suggested. I like being able to put my luggage directly overhead or as close to where I sit as possible. Plus, I like being able to get to the rest room without having to trek all the way from the front. I enjoyed reading all of your tips - very interesting and enjoyable to read.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I haven't flown in quite a while and I understand from business people that still have to do it as a living that it is no where near as nice as in days past. It is now a necessary evil as compared to a pleasurable experience as it was in the past. Young people will never know what it was like, sadly. Your tips sound like good ones. Voted up and useful.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Alocsin, I don't know much about flying since the new rules on paying for luggages.With kids, it's important to be close to the restroom and where kids can ask for extra beverages, even meals. Voted up and useful.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Hmmm... I haven't flown in many years, but back when I did, there was no galley space in the rear of the was in the front, usually on the starboard (right) side.

      Also, as far as noise from the jets goes, it's not that noisy over the wing...sound travels in a path toward the rear of the plane. It's probably noisier in the back than over the wing.

      Plus, if you want to be "technically" the first to arrive, sit in the middle of the plane...the midships landing gear is the first to touch the ground. ;-)

      But--I haven't flown since before 1988, and since 9/11, I'm afraid to. :-(

      Interesting article, though--voted up.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice and valuable information. Thanks for writing and share with us. I'll bookmark this one. Cheers.....

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      I Hate Flying since we have so many NEW rules and regulations...However I did find this Hub most useful and informative. Thanks so much for Sharing! I look forward to following you.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      I Hate Flying since we have so many NEW rules and regulations...However I did find this Hub most useful and informative. Thanks so much for Sharing!

    • Soramelo profile image

      Soramelo 6 years ago

      Hi :-)

      Sadly i rarely fly ,so i never paid much attention to

      where do i sit.I will remember this Hub for the next time i fly :-)

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      Good points to remember when flying