The Consummate Traveler: Finding Your Perfect Seat in the Sky

By Michele Goncalves
Michele Goncalves
Michele Goncalves
August 17, 2013 Updated: August 17, 2013

We have all heard of the saying “location, location, location.” It turns out that this concept does not just apply to real estate, but it also plays a big role in-flight as well. Finding the right airplane seat for you and your travel companions can be a very important component to a pleasant journey. 

First, I’d like to just state that if you think all airplanes are configured more or less the same, you are mistaken. On my last business trip to the U.K., I flew in business class on a U.S. carrier and was shocked to see that the middle row had three seats. This is really not a common sight. One of the benefits of business class is usually that there is no middle seat. Although it did recline and had typical business class “features,” it was extremely uncomfortable and difficult for the entire row to relax. 

My seat on this particular flight was on the aisle in the middle row. It was also a bulkhead seat (first row) and right near the bathroom and kitchen area. This is really not my preferred location because of the limited storage and obvious likelihood for noise, but I decided not to bother changing my seat. After all, the flight was less than six hours.

However, much to my surprise, four hours into the flight I opened my eyes after resting and noticed a flight attendant was sitting in her chair staring right at me! This made me feel a bit awkward and I regretted not changing my seat.

To avoid these and other surprises on your next flight, follow these easy steps to research your options and find the best seat for you:

Look up your flight on This website gives you such great information about the airplane your flight will be using. Not only will it show you a floor plan of your entire plane, it will also explain the type of chair you have (leg room, flat bed, limited incline, etc). Finally and most importantly, it will actually flag and warn you of problematic seat numbers and explain why they are bad. This information can help you figure out where you want to be. My seat on the flight was flagged as a bad one on this site, and boy were they right!

Check-in online and choose your seat: You are typically able to select your seat at the time of purchase on an airline’s website, or 24 hours in advance when you check-in online. Doing this ahead of time will give you a better chance of securing the seat you want, rather than waiting to do this at the airport.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!

Michele Goncalves
Michele Goncalves