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How to get the best seat on a plane

How to get the best seat on a plane

view from window seat of a plane

Picture this: you’ve just spend around $50 on your Chase Sapphire card to get from your house to the airport (really, this is how much you can expect to pay for a taxi from Cambridge to Boston Logan Airport).  Then you gotta rush through security because the check-in line for Delta was entirely too long.  You barely make it to your plane and thank your lucky stars you reserved that bulkhead seat.  Hand over your ticket to that flight attendant at the door who’s always smiling, and you hear 25B, to your right! You do a double take because you know for sure you paid for 30K, a window seat towards the back of the plane.  It happens.  To all of us.

So how can I get the best seat on a plane?

But thanks to the innanets, we now have more control over where we seat.  Of course, airlines can change your seat without asking or even change the aircraft.  But as soon as you see the change, hop over to and make sure it’s somewhere you can tolerate. At least with a window seat, not only do you get a good view, but also a place to put lay your head for that 12 hour flight!  Not only do they offer detailed seat maps and flight information, but expert flyers also want to get seat advice, user comments & photos, and the rating system.

What if you’re traveling with other people?

I get it, unless you are traveling with your own crew, no one wants to cough up an extra $60 or however much airlines are charging for seat selection, so I understand sometimes you gotta wait until that YOU CAN NOW CHECK-IN email hits your mailbox. Times are rough, I know. But whatever you do, don’t allow airlines to select your seat! Don’t do it!? You will end up with the seat I told you about above, or worse (actually I don’t know what’s worse) but you get my drift. If you are balling not on a tight budget, then go ahead and pay to choose your own seat.

What about the tall travel crew?

Take myself for instance. I’m about 5’10, 6′ on a good day, and I absolutely definitively hate the middle and aisle seats. The amount of times the food tray has hit my knees, and it’s always the one without alcohol. I mean who does that. At least compensate me for my pain. Anywho, the minimum amount of hours I can withstand to deal with uncomfortableness (new word) is 4 hours. Anything over that, I’m getting a view from my seat by the wing (you feel less turbulence here or maybe it’s all in my head) with good enough legroom. I’m not getting stuck in between a snorer and someone who clips their toenails. No thanks.

Emirates 380 parked at Joburg OR Tambo Airport
Emirates 380 parked at Joburg OR Tambo Airport

Wheew, wait I got sidetracked. Where was I? Oh yeah, picking seats. So every time before I pick my seat on the airline page, I head over to and locate my aircraft. I love flying Emirates and because they have a zillion aircrafts, they always have multiple versions of the same airplane type. So you have to make sure the seat map you are looking at matches the seat map on the airline website. For example, Emirates has multiple configurations for the Boeing 380-800. Some have economy class seating on the upper deck, while some don’t. The first thing I look at: all the green seats in my seating class.

Bottom Line:

Avoid any red-colored seats or even orange, if possible. I also make sure I read the traveler reviews and photos of the seat I’m picking.

No color = regular seats with average legroom

Green = the best seats; usually extra legroom

Orange = limited recline/close to lavs

Red = okay we all know red in any situation is a no-go. It applies here too, very limited recline, too close to lavs, too everything bad. AVOID AVOID AVOID

I mean all this should be on your before I fly list. So before you blindly select seat 34K thinking it’s a normal window seat, head over to seatguru to see what else the airlines are hiding.  You’re welcome!

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