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What are the Best Seats on an Airplane in Coach?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Since the earliest days of commercial airline travel, passengers have debated amongst themselves over the best seats on the airplane. Some argue that the best places to sit, excluding the first class section, are found on the reinforced bulkhead section over the wings. Others say the best seats are those closest to emergency exits or even restroom facilities. Some say the aisle seats provide easier access to exit doors and overhead compartments, while window seats provide a better view and only one competitor for the armrest.

Many travel safety experts suggest the best seats on an airplane are indeed those in the central bulkhead section near the emergency exits. Unlike other passenger rows, these sections are often compartmentalized into single seats. The bulkhead section of an airplane's fuselage is also heavily reinforced, which can improve a passenger's chances of surviving a crash significantly. A number of airlines have been known to offer a better fare price for those willing to sit in the bulkhead section. In exchange for having one of these seats, passengers in the bulkhead section must often agree to assist flight attendants with emergency door removal.

Some regular fliers may argue that it's better to sit close to the restroom facilities. There may be a number of compelling reasons for a passenger to seek out the airplane's restroom, but timing and logistics can mean everything. It can be difficult to negotiate the narrow seating area, especially when other row mates are asleep or uncooperative. Even in the main aisle, reaching the rear of the plane can be problematic during a meal or beverage service. For those who may need unfettered access to the facilities, the best seat on an airplane may be in the rear.

Some believe the best seats on an airplane are located in the tail section, since airplanes rarely back into the side of a mountain. While this may a theory more suited for a stand-up comic than a concerned passenger, there may actually be some real merit to it. The tail section may be the last to fill up, so a passenger looking for some privacy may not have to contend with unfamiliar seatmates. The general unpopularity of tail section seats could make them best for those who seek privacy while sleeping during long flights.

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Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WikiMotors, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By dautsun — On Dec 07, 2012
@sunnySkys - I agree that most airplane seats aren't going to be comfortable. But I'm always really paranoid about something happening to the plane, so I'm going to try and sit in the central bulkhead section next time I fly. I know a plane crash is unlikely, but I think it will make me feel a little better about flying.
By sunnySkys — On Dec 06, 2012

I almost think that there are no good seats on an airplane anymore, first class being the main exception. But I can't afford to fly first class usually, so that's not an option for me.

But seriously, any way you slice it you're going to have to deal with some kind of annoyance no matter what seat you choose. Most airplane seats in coach are very small, so you're not going to have a lot of room. And of course, there are other drawbacks to any seat, be it the window seat, the middle seat, or the aisle.

By LoriCharlie — On Dec 05, 2012

@JessicaLynn: I prefer the window seat, because I like the view and I usually don't need to get up. But I agree, the middle seat is horrible. I try to avoid it whenever possible. I hate being sandwiched in between two people I don't know in such close quarters.

By anon307599 — On Dec 05, 2012

It doesn't matter where you're seated, as long as you have a safe flight.

By JessicaLynn — On Dec 05, 2012

@anon68517: That's pretty neat if you're flying on an airline that assigns the seats. The last few times I've flown, it was open seating, and there wasn't an airplane seating chart I could look at beforehand to pick my seat.

Anyway, I hate flying and I find that it's always cramped. So my favorite seat is the aisle seat. As the article said, you only have to compete with one person over the armrest and you only have someone on one side of you. Also, I think the middle seat is the absolute worst.

By anon134610 — On Dec 15, 2010

Agreed, the best seat is whatever a person prefers. Some websites let frequent fliers rank the types of seats they prefer and then will compare their assigned seat to available seats. If a better seat is found, the site will automatically upgrade them. Pretty cool.

By anon68517 — On Mar 02, 2010

Best airplane seats are really whatever someone prefers, front vs. back, aisle vs window, exit row or bulkhead. It's getting harder to get the seat you want, but it's a lot easier now with online sites which will actually let you set preferences for a better seat and then it proceeds to get it (read: book it) for you. It may be one of the best frequent flyer tools out there.

By anon67634 — On Feb 25, 2010

Tail section seats are notoriously cramped and the engine noise is generally too intolerable to allow sound sleep. The body vibrating undertones may be conducive to helping babies sleep though. So, indeed, it may be the best place to let sleeping babies lie.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WikiMotors, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
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