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How to choose and get the best seats on a plane

There's more to choosing plane seats than just the window and aisle. Here are some top tips for choosing the perfect seat for your flight…

Seat with a view

Best for sleep

First off the plane

Extra legroom

Nervous flyer?

Row to yourself

Plane seat picker AI


Are you wondering what the best seat on an aeroplane is? You've come to the right place. There are lots of things to consider when deciding on your preferred seat, and we've got all the info you could possibly need. We've even come up with a handy AI assistant that will help pick the perfect seat for you based on your travel needs. You're welcome!

Firstly, check the seat map

Your first step is to check the seat plan for the plane you will be flying on, which often varies depending on the length of your flight. Once you know what the inside of the plane looks like, you can make decisions about where exactly you'd like to sit.

SeatGuru is a very useful site where you can find seat maps of commercial planes. You can book your seats as soon as you book your flight, which will increase your chances of sitting where you want, but this usually comes at an extra cost. If you're waiting until you get to the airport to pick a seat, remember to check again just before you fly to make sure that your chosen seat is still available. You can even take a physical copy of the seat map with you to the airport if you want to double-check whether you're satisfied. Here are some things to consider when picking a seat…

Fancy a seat with a view?

Go for a window seat.

Many travellers love a window seat for the perfect view of their destination below. While it'll take you a little longer to get off the plane when you arrive at your destination, a window seat guarantees the best views outside the plane and conveniently leaves you in control of the shutter, so a fellow passenger can't shut out those views.

A word of warning – so-called window seats will occasionally leave you without a window. Some windows are annoyingly placed between rows, so check the seat map of the plane to make sure you've chosen an actual window seat. And remember that if you're flying at night or are on a long-distance flight where high altitudes are reached, there won't be anything but darkness or clouds to see for hours.

View of the sky out of a plane window.

Want to get some sleep?

Choose a window seat between the front of the plane and the wing.

If you need some shut-eye, we'd go for a window seat. The further away you are from the aisle the less likely you are to be disturbed by foot traffic, passing food trolleys and fellow passengers needing to squeeze past you to go to the toilet.

Depending on the specific plane, you might also be able to snooze propped up against the wall with a window seat. Don't forget to bring a travel pillow with you if you plan on doing this – we love wraparound neck pillows like the Trtl Travel Pillow for this kind of job. In practice the side of the cabin can be further away than you imagine, so sometimes it'll be more comfortable to recline back in your seat.

How close to either end of the plane you are can affect your sleep too. The front of the plane traditionally fills up first, and you're likely to find bigger groups of passengers are placed at the back of the plane. This means there are often empty seats in between, giving you the opportunity to easily switch to a better seat once the flight takes off – you may even get an entire row to yourself.

The last thing to consider when choosing the best seat for sleep is noise levels. We'd choose a seat away from the loos, as they tend to be noisier when passengers queue down the aisle. And bear in mind that plane engines are usually under the wings or towards the back of the plane, so it's likely to be a little quieter in front of the wing.

Person in bed waking up at the airport with views of a plane.

Want to be first off the plane?

Choose an aisle seat at the front of the plane.

Although great for a view, choosing the window seat means there'll usually be two passengers in your way when it comes to getting off the plane. Anyone looking for a quick getaway should go for aisle seats, as they allow you to get off the plane a little earlier.

You should go for an aisle seat towards the front of the plane if you want to be first off and whiz through passport control. On some planes sitting at the back can mean you'll get off last, so it's worth sitting near the front to make sure you're not stuck in a long queue. Make sure you check your seat map before picking your seat so you know which end of the plane you need to sit.

Passengers leaving a plane.

Need more legroom?

Choose an aisle seat, and possibly either a bulkhead or emergency exit seat.

For extra legroom, aisle seats are a good option as you can stretch your legs out more easily.

Or, try and snag a sought-after bulkhead seat – these seats directly face a wall separating different parts of the plane, like first class and economy. They sometimes offer more legroom, plus nobody can recline in front of you. Just make sure you check the plane you'll be flying on, because on some there's not much difference in space between bulkhead seats and other seats – and on some flights bulkhead seats are even less spacious. Plus bear in mind that you usually can't store luggage in front of you with bulkhead seats, which will have to be put in the overhead locker.

Elsewhere on the plane, there's usually more legroom on seats by the exit row or emergency exit. However, you'll need to be willing to help other passengers off the plane in an emergency situation, plus like bulkhead seats you won't be able to store your luggage in front of you for easy access. This is to keep the aisle clear in case of an emergency landing. And on some planes these seats don't not fully recline.

Kid with long legs relaxing and putting feet up on suitcase while waiting in the airport terminal for a flight.

Are you a nervous flyer?

Choose an aisle seat between the wings of the plane.

If you are a nervous flyer, seats between the wings or at the front of the plane are best for you. There is less turbulence towards the front and especially between the wings of the plane, since this area is more stable. For the same reason, if you suffer from motion sickness, it would also be better to be seated close to the wings or at the front.

We'd also recommend choosing an aisle seat, as that way you won't be trapped between two travellers if you need to get up and move about. It will also make it easier to talk to airline staff if you need any assistance while up in the air, giving you a little more peace of mind.

Cabin crew helping passengers on a plane.

Want to avoid sitting next to a stranger?

Choose a seat towards the back of the plane.

Where you choose to sit on the plane can be a bit of a lottery, as unless you're travelling in a group of at least three people you don't have much control over who you'll end up being sat next to. But there are some things you can do to increase the chances of having an empty seat next to you.

Plane seats tend to fill from front to back, so choosing a seat towards the back of the plane makes it more likely you'll have a row to yourself. If there's two of you travelling then consider booking an aisle and a window seat – nobody wants the middle seat, so it's likely you'll have the row to yourself if you book the seats either side of it.

If you're travelling on a large aircraft with an extra row of seats in the middle, seats in that central section tend to be less popular – so choosing an aisle seat in the middle section is a good bet.

Traveller with headphones on sat by themselves on a plane.

Use our handy AI assistant to help you pick a seat

Want to make picking the best seat on the plane for you even easier? Try our handy AI assitant that will help work out where you should sit, whether you're a nervous flyer, want to get off the plane quickly or fancy a good night's sleep while you fly.

Pick your perfect plane seat

Use our clever AI assistant to help you pick the best seat on the plane based on what's most important to you.

AI assistant

Plane seating FAQs

Are window or aisle seats better?

We're sitting firmly on the fence here – there are plenty of reasons to love both window and aisle seats, so it all comes down to personal preference.

Choose a window seat if you want to take Insta-worthy holiday snaps or get a better night's sleep. Or go for an aisle seat if you want to get off the plane quicker, need more legroom or are a nervous flyer.

But what about the middle seat? There's no need to sit on the fence for this one – middle seats are by far the least popular seat choice, and we can't think of many reasons someone would choose to sit there. They can be a good option if you're travelling as a group and want to chat with the people either side of you, but other than that we'd definitely avoid.

Shall I sit at the front or the back of the plane?

Sitting at the front of the plane is usually a better option than the back for lots of reasons. The front is often quieter since airlines usually sit large groups at the back of the plane, plus since the engine is usually at the back or middle of the plane you'll probably hear it grumbling less by sitting at the front. A word of caution – if it's noise you're looking to avoid, don't sit at the very front of the plane as you'll likely end up next to people queuing for the toilet. And then there's the danger of toilet smells – ew.

Another bonus for the front of the plane is that you'll likely get off quicker, as boarding almost always happens at the front. Some planes let passengers leave from the back of the plane too, which can make it a good option for a speedy exit.

But let's not forget the middle of the plane in all this front or back excitement. The middle is usually the most stable part of the aircraft, particularly between the wings, so you'll likely experience less turbulence – which is ideal for nervous flyers.

Is it worth upgrading my plane seat?

Seat upgrades can be worth their weight in gold, but it really depends what flight you're on. If it's a relatively short flight, a seat upgrade with extra legroom or perks like included food and drink might not be as worthwhile as on a long-haul flight, for example.

Seat upgrades come with comfier seats, often include lounge access at the airport, and may make for a more peaceful trip if you're travelling with kids. Sometimes airlines offer last-minute upgrade deals, and the price difference between standard and first class seats can be less if you book last minute.

Are the exit row or bulkhead seats good places to sit on a plane?

There are pros and cons to sitting by the emergency exits. You'll usually get more legroom which is a very nice bonus, but sitting here comes with a bit of responsibility – in an emergency you'll be the one that needs to open the doors to let everyone out. That will mean you'll be one of the first people off the plane if anything does happen, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You also won't be able to store your luggage in front of you, as the exit row needs to be kept clear just in case. Instead your luggage needs to be kept in the overhead locker, which isn't ideal if you want easy access to your belongings. But if the legroom is important to you, the exit row is pretty ideal.

Should air quality influence my seat choice?

To maintain the temperature and humidity in the cabin, the air that's circulated is usually about 50% fresh and 50% recycled. There are many myths about where the freshest air can be found on planes, but airlines have made a point of saying that the air inside the cabin is filtered and circulates evenly throughout the plane.

You'd think that, since passengers usually board from the front and the doors remain open for the remainder of boarding, there must be more fresh air towards the front of the plane at the beginning of the flight. Just remember that these seats are usually close to the toilets, so they might not have what you would describe as the freshest air. So in reality you probably won't notice a difference in air quality depending on where you sit.