Securing the seat you want

2012-06-20 08:39

It was all going so well. You'd taken the middle seat in economy class as your ticket said you should, and with no seat mates to join you on either side halfway through boarding, you tentatively moved over to the window. But low, just as you were settling in with the in-flight magazine, mr. Window Seat arrived to claim his rightful space, and soon after Mrs. Aisle to further cramp you style. 

And there you were stuck in the middle once again: nowhere to rest your head, no space for your arms on the supposedly shared arm rests... and a ridiculously reclining passanger right in front of you. 

Sound familiar? Of course it does! At least to anyone who flies cattle class on a regular basis.

However, we've got a few tips for securing yourself the best seat on a plane. While it's by no means a fool proof program (sadly so), it would definitely assist in familiarizing yourself with the general layout of an aircraft, what to ask for and what to avoid at all costs. 

Good seats for different reasons: 

Exit row - This is overall the best option for most flyers, as there is ample leg room and no one reclining in front of you. 

Drawbacks: However, if you're flying as a family with kids this is a no go, as persons under the age of 15 are not allowed to sit in an exit row seat... in case of an emergency you know. Infants are not even allowed to be seated in a two row radius of the exit row. 

Another issue you may find with exit rows is that they could be located close to the gulley or flight attendant areas, which is quite a pain if you're hoping to catch some proper shut-eye, as light and movement is pretty much a constant here. 

Aisle - Nervous about getting to the toilet on time? Want to exit the aircraft as quickly as possible on arrival? The aisle seat is your best bet. 

The drawbacks here are that you'd better keep your arms tucked in constantly to avoid being jostled by flight attendant trolleys as they deliver snacks and drinks, also your row mates might have ants in their pants, constantly wanting to climb over you to access the toilets, the overhead bins or their friends and family in far-away rows. 

Window - Want to get some well-deserved rest? The window is for you. All you need is a nice soft cushion or two (if the airline doesn't provide, a bulky piece of clothing is a good substitute) to lean against and you're set for comfort. 

Drawbacks: Having to climb over fellow passenger to reach the bathroom or your items stowed in the overhead bin. 

Wing - If you're a nervous flyer, being seated on the wing is quite possibly in your best interest, as turbulence isn't felt as badly here as elsewhere. There is also something quite comforting about being able to keep your eye on the solid structure of the plane to remind yourself that you actually are pretty safe. 

Drawbacks: You don't have much of a view.

Bulkhead seat - These are the seats located directly behind the physical barriers (such as walls, curtains or screens) that separate different parts of the plane. Because there are no seats in front of you, you may have a bit more leg room and also won't have anyone encroaching on your space from the front. 

Drawbacks: It could be noisy on occasion, especially when flight attendants have to move from one section to the next with a trolley of food and drinks. Some are also disturbingly cramped, so much so, that you would actually be better off in the middle seat of any other row. 

Making sure you get a good seat

Check in online - Most airlines offer an a service these days, where you can check in online prior to your flight. While the time frame differs from airline to airline, it would generally be open for a period of between 24 hours and 2 hours prior to the flight. Make sure about the online check in rules and regulations while buying your ticket, and make sure you get in there as possible to pick the seat you're after. 

The internet is your friend - Don't know what seat you're after? Well, fortunately we're citizens of the 21st century, right and the internet is full of useful information. Check out to search for the best seat on your specific flight. If the airline you're flying with does not pop up, find out which plane model you will be flying on. This is usually listed on your reservation or on your travel agency website; if it isn't, you can call your airline and ask. Once you know, punch it into SeatGuru to see the plane's layout, then pic your sought-after seat. 

Get to the airport early - if you arrive late, you risk losing your hard-earned seat. 

Don't be afraid to ask - So, you didn't get round to pre-booking the seat you want? There is absolutely no harm in asking for it when you get to the check-in counter. Of course it may not be available, but this doesn't mean you can't ask for the next best options. 

Be kind - Kindness is totally underrated in the world today. Yes, airports are stressful places, and catching a flight is enough of a rigmarole without the whole schlep of trying to get a good seat, but you will be amazed what wonders a kind word, a warm smile and a friendly greeting can make. Ground staff have to deal with a lot of stressed out people, so having an easy customer will instantly put them in a good mood, and this of course could be beneficial to you. 

If all else fails...

Join a frequent flyer program - but as the name suggests, this will only be effective if you happen to travel a lot. Providing your frequent flier number at the time of reservation goes a long way toward netting you a good seat, especially if you are a loyal, high-ranking member.

Got any tips of your own to share with us? Tell us in the comment section below, tweet us@GoTravel24 or send us a mail.

Read more on:    travel tips  |  travel international

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