If you have an upcoming flight, you might be wondering where the best place to sit on a plane is.
The answer is that there isn’t necessarily a universal best place to sit on a plane, because it varies by the passenger and their preferences.
For example, some passengers want to avoid turbulence while others are travelling with a baby, so where they should sit on a plane for the most pleasant flying experience will differ.
Let’s take a look at 14 of the best places to sit on a plane according to every preference and contingency.
Table of Contents
To Feel Less Turbulence
Turbulence can feel very scary in the moment, even though turbulence very rarely causes planes to crash.
In any case, if you want to feel less turbulence, the best place to sit on a plane is either directly over the wings of the plane (between rows 10 and 30) or towards the front of the aircraft.
With a Baby
When flying with a baby, it can be a good idea to book a day flight instead of a night flight if you are worried about your baby crying and preventing other passengers from sleeping.
Sitting at the back of the plane can also be wise, as it’s already noisier back there compared to the front of the plane, and it’s also near to the bathroom.
If you plan to nurse, booking a window seat, so you’ll have a bit more privacy can be a good call.
With Young Kids
Young kids are less likely to cry than babies, but as any parent knows, they are still capable of throwing tantrums!
Generally, if flying with young kids, it can be smart to book a window seat, which can keep them distracted and provide a pleasant view.
Sitting near the bathroom and by the aisle can be a good idea, as it’s unlikely that young kids will be willing to hold it in as many adults do on flights to avoid disturbing the passenger next to them.
To Avoid Motion Sickness
If you suffer from motion sickness, you want a smooth flying experience as possible.
So this means booking a seat directly over the wings of the plane or towards the front of the aircraft.
An aisle seat instead of a window is also a better choice.
The best place to sit on a plane if you have anxiety can vary depending on what causes you to become anxious.
Generally, it’s better to choose a window seat, as it can provide a distraction and pleasant view.
However, if you’re afraid of heights, you should book an aisle seat.
It’s also better to book an aisle seat if you feel claustrophobic or think you will become restless and want to move around a bit.
If you’re concerned about safety, booking a seat in an exit row can help put your mind a little more at ease.
To Avoid Ear Pain
When flying, the air pressure inside the plane and cabin fluctuates, which can cause that annoying ear pain.
Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily a best place to seat to prevent ear pain on your next flight.
However, some helpful tips to help avoid ear pain when flying include:
- Yawning and swallowing during the descent and ascent
- Pinching your nose shut, closing your mouth and gently blowing through your nostrils
- Using filtered earplugs
- Chewing on gum or sucking on hard candy
Airplane travel is incredibly safe, but if you want to increase your odds of surviving a crash, the middle seats at the back of the plane are best with a 28% fatality rate.
The worst seats on a plane for surviving a crash are on either side of the aisle in the middle of the aircraft, with a 44% fatality rate.
For Tall People
If you’re tall, then you already know that flying doesn’t always offer the most pleasant flying experience.
The best on a plane to sit for extra legroom is at the front of the plane – the very front row, in fact.
Paying a little more to book a Premium Economy seat is often worth it for the extra legroom too, though it will usually by no means be a substantial difference.
For Overweight People
For you’re overweight, it’s better to book an aisle seat, as you won’t have to slide past your fellow passengers every time you want to get up.
More importantly, though, it’s better to fly with airlines that have wider seats.
We cover this in more detail in our 4 Best Airlines for Overweight Passengers article. But in short, JetBlue, Delta, Air Canada, Spirit, and American Airlines will provide the most comfortable flying experience for overweight passengers.
For Short Flights
The best place to sit on a plane for short haul flights often depends on if you are checking in bags or not.
As it’s more likely that you will pack light and bring just a carry-on, an aisle seat near the front of the plane can be smart, so you can get off the plane as quickly as possible.
However, many passengers like to book a window seat on short flights for the view and because they are less likely to need to go to the bathroom.
Note that if you book a window seat, you should bring sunscreen on the plane because plane’s windows stop only about half of UVA rays
Having said that, others know they won’t sleep on a short flight and won’t be disturbed too often by others who need to go to the bathroom, so prefer the aisle seat.
So, for short flights, it really does all come down to preference.
For Long-Haul Flights
On long-haul flights, it’s almost guaranteed that you will need to use the bathroom at some point.
If you need to use the bathroom when the person next to you is sleeping, it can get pretty awkward real fast when you wake them up.
So, a seat that gives you unobstructed access to the aisle is highly recommended.
This means booking a flight with an airline that offers a configuration of two aisles (or twin-aisles) – i.e. either of the aisles seat in the center section of a 3-3-3 configuration.
If you won’t be flying on a plane that offers a 3-3-3 configuration, it really comes down to how likely you are to sleep on the flight (a window seat will be more comfortable) and your tolerance for disturbing others to go to the bathroom.
Sitting in an emergency exit row or at the very front of the plane can also be a good idea for that extra legroom, too.
If you plan to sleep on your next flight, the best seat is a window seat away from the bathroom and cabin crew areas.
Not only will you hear less noise in these seats, but a window seat ensures that no one will bother you when they need to go to the bathroom.
To Get Off the Plane First
If you want to get off the plane first, the best place to sit on a plane is in one of the first few rows.
This is because passengers disembark from the front to back of the plane.
If you’ve checked in your bag, it ultimately doesn’t matter, as you’ll probably still be waiting for your luggage even once the last passenger has left the plane.
To Avoid Catching Covid
As you have probably heard, social distancing is key to avoid transmitting and catching covid.
This means that the best place to sit on a plane to avoid catching covid is anywhere where there is a middle seat open.
If this isn’t possible, especially as it can be hard to predict in advance how the seating arrangements on your next flight will be, it’s best to sit in the very last rows.
This is because there will be fewer people behind you.
Wearing a mask is also key, even if many airlines no longer require passengers to do so.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).