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.
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.
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.