Learn How to Get the Best Seat on an Airplane

How to get the best seat on an airplane

I just booked flights from Vancouver to Toronto in Business Class, and before I purchased the tickets, I asked about the aircraft type. The Air Canada agent paused, checked her screen, and advised me I would be flying on an A320 aircraft. No thanks. The tiny Business Class cabin on the A320 has 2×2 seats with a 12.7 cm (5 in.) recline. I asked the agent to look for an alternate flight on the same day. She found one departing thirty minutes later on a Boeing 777. This aircraft has pods with fully lie-flat seats in the Business Class cabin, and the price was comparable – it was an easy choice.

how to get the best seat on an airplane pod

Are you wondering how to get the best seat on an airplane when you or your travel agent book flights? Here are few tools that will help you find the best seat when you fly.

Know the Airplanes

To get the best seats on a plane, it helps to be familiar with the equipment in a particular fleet. If you don’t know this information first hand, check the airline’s website for information on the planes they fly and associated seat maps. If available, the seat map should provide you with the airplane size and configuration including the number of classes, seat details (width, recline, pitch), lavatories, and galleys.

how to get the best seat on an airplane SWISS

Use SeatGuru

SeatGuru, owned by TripAdvisor, is a comprehensive website with airline seat maps by date and flight number, details about each seat, and seat reviews submitted by passengers. Even if you are familiar with an airline’s offering, be sure to check the seat map on SeatGuru before you make your selection. The SeatGuru website is my favourite tool for figuring out how to get the best seat on an airplane. It ensures you avoid the window seat without a window, a seat with limited recline or one with restricted legroom.

Also, you can use the SeatGuru comparison chart to research seat comfort and amenities on various airlines before you book your ticket.

Reserve the Seat You Want

Be sure to request the seat you want when you book your flight or select it yourself on the airline’s website. Choose your seat as early as possible. If your preferred seat isn’t available, check with the airline periodically before you fly, and again when you arrive at the airport. Seat assignments are dynamic, and availability will change before you travel.

Some airlines charge passengers a fee to select a seat. I always consider the trip duration and passenger load before I decide if I will pay this additional fee. If it is a short flight with a reasonable number of empty seats, I rarely pay. But, if it is a long, busy flight, I often pay a bit more for my preferred seat. You can gauge how busy your flight is by checking the seat map on the airline’s website.

Even you if you have reserved a specific seat, airlines reserve the right to reallocate the seat so be sure to double check your seat assignment when you check-in for your flight.

Do you have any tips to add to this article on how to get the best seat on an airplane?

You might be interested in reading about the differences between the Lufthansa A330 and 747-8i First Class cabins here.

21 thoughts on “Learn How to Get the Best Seat on an Airplane”

  1. I never thought about checking the plane models. Since we travel with our kids, we usually just look for planes where we can all be seated in a row. Sometimes we’ll split ourselves two by two, so that the kids can have the window seats.

  2. This is something I have researched immensely. Being from the U.S, I have taken advantage of airline miles and points in general and am beginning to only fly business class or above! Although I have never been the luxury type of person, I am becoming that person & quickly, haha.

    1. LuxeTravelFamily

      Excellent! It has hard to go back to Economy after flying Business or First, Ehsanul! I often use points as well – it can be excellent value.

  3. I have never used Seat Guru, great tip. I never thought about looking for better seats on different types of aircraft. Usually I only look at getting to wherever I am going in the quickest least expensive way! Although traveling with a family it is a little different. Sometimes I pay for seat assignments, sometimes not, most airlines will sit families together so I don;t worry about that too much

    1. LuxeTravelFamily

      Thanks, Rob. Airlines seem to be getting better about sitting families together. I used to always pay for seat assignments, but don’t worry about it as much now.

  4. Great tips – I think a lot of people don’t think about checking the airplane before they book – it’s a trick I’ve learned on international flights as I usually get stuck with a massive carry on on a tiny prop plane to get from Canberra to Sydney. I always aim to schedule my flights out based on the planes 🙂

    1. LuxeTravelFamily

      Thanks Megan! Excellent plan to schedule your flights based on the plane when one of your options is a tiny prop. 🙂

  5. I’ve never used Seat Guru as I mostly fly standby and fly on whichever seat is available, but I will definitely recommend others look into it. Double checking seat assignments is a great tip too, since most people don’t seem to know that airlines have the right to change your seats!

  6. Great tips here – it always amazes me how many people can miss this step when booking flights. Just a few minutes of extra work can mean the difference between a tattered old recliner seat and lie-flat bliss!

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