Travel Tip Tuesday: The Best Seat on the Plane

Have you ever been to a movie theater, snagged the perfect seat and then had an 8-foot tall stranger with wild hair sit right in front of you? Oh, come on. It’s happened. You were pissed, too weren’t you? You probably thought, “I paid $8.00 for this movie and some schmuck is ruining it.”

Or have you been to a baseball game and seemingly been the only person there who people crossed over en-route to the beer stand? “If that woman steps on my foot one more time, why I’m gonna …”

It matters.

I’m not judging you …

Where you sit greatly impacts your experience. I get that. That’s why today’s Travel Tip Tuesday Tip revolves around getting the best seat on the plane.

You already know flying first class or business class will get a comfy cushion for the long haul, but if you are a cheapskate bargain traveler like me, you’re not gonna pay those prices, so here’s the deal.

>> Always reserve your seat online. Always. Don’t leave it up to the airline to select a seat for you based on preferences, either. Secure that baby yourself.

>> Here’s a fun one minute (and 27 second) video for finding secret seats. Check it out, but then come back.

>> In addition to knowing about these secret seats, your new best friend is I kid you not. Here’s how it works.

1. Go the website where you booked your ticket so you can select your seat(s) online.

2. At the top of your ticket you will see the type of airplane that will be used for your trip.

3. Go to Seat Guru and click on the name of the airline (be sure to use the airline operating your flight. This isn’t necessarily the airline you booked your ticket with.)

4. Click on the type of airplane you will flying on and you will see a map of the plane.

5. Refer to the available seats on your airline’s website and compare them to the seats on Seat Guru. The seats are color-coded so you can instantly identify superior or substandard seats. If you slide your mouse over the seat number, you can read more details about why that seat is, or isn’t a favorable option.

6. Choose your seat on your airline’s website and save it.

Now … sometimes airlines don’t play fair … I know, I know and have more than one plane with the same number. If you are so inclined, you can call the airline (the number is right there on Seat Guru’s website) and ask which plane they plan to use. They can change the plane at their discretion, so if you want to make sure you get an ideal seat, make a list of the best choices on different planes, and ask for clarification when you check-in.

For other seat-snagging ideas, see

Seat Expert
Find YOUR Best Seat
Snag the Best Seat
FlyerTalk Forums

What’s your best, or worst, seat experience? Oh, do tell!

And until next time … Buon Viaggio!

13 Responses
  1. joanne at frutto della passione

    I ended up in one of the secret seats last summer It would have been just perfect, but the video screen didn’t work!!

  2. Linda, Seat Guru actually says “good for some people (like kids, traveling with kids, etc) and explains.

    That is just wrong, Joanne. You shoulda got a discount for THAT! lol

  3. Cherrye~ Yeah, I like seat guru! We used it last time we booked our flight…I liked it because we could pick a seat NOT right next to a bathroom and without the electronic box under our feet. Worked liked a charm 😉
    My worst…surrounded by an entire family taking up a whole row..and they all wanted to keep switching seats to sit next to Mom or Dad!! Oh yeah, it was bad 😉

  4. Ouch, Robin. That DOES sound like a bad one. My worst was when I sat beside a man, who I noticed earlier in the airport and who, I am sad to say, had a strong personal scent. After a 9-hour plane ride, I was used to the odor, but my head was killing me!

  5. I had to give up my seat once for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg who decided at the last minute to take a commercial flight. We ended up sitting behind him and my daughter who was a baby then cried loudly all the way.

  6. Another great tip. I always select my seat when I book my ticket.

    Once I flew from Switzerland to Los Angeles ( a very long flight) next to big person (who spilled over into my seat) with a strong personal scent. Plus I was in coach. Not fun. ha

  7. Thanks, NYC. That flight sounds like my worst, too. I had seen this guy in the airport b/c we were phone using the pay phones and I told P, I have seat XYZ-a, I bet you anything this guy standing next to me has XYZ-b … he did.


  8. I’ve used SeatGuru for years – they are very helpful indeed. One of our worst experiences was coming back from Italy this past November. A big guy and his wife sat in front of us from Rome to Newark… reclined their seats AND snored. And wouldn’t you know it, they were also on the Newark-to-Houston leg too, in the same damn place. Ugh. So, you can pick the seat but you sure can’t pick your seat-experience-influencers.

  9. My husband flies alot with his job from March to October, if he can, he always books his seat..he has his ipod, his bosch headset, and away he goes. Normally he sleeps most of the way. He is a big man, in height, and needs leg room, and woe betide anyone with a child if they are next to him 🙂 or a bigger person than him!!!

  10. Oh that is a bad experience, AmyEmilia. I can’t believe they were on BOTH legs … who did you offend??

    Anne – he sounds like a professional traveler with all of that gear! I am NOT a tall gal at all, but I need leg room, too. I dont know HOW tall people do it!

Leave a Reply