Selecting seats for a flight can be a harrowing process as there are many variables to consider. The obvious considerations are leg room and general location for a quick exit from the aircraft. In addition to these, factors to consider are window alignment, proximity to a galley or toilet, baby bassinets and how the on board service is conducted. Certain aircraft also have a one off special seat which should be a person’s first choice. Let’s have a look at frequent flyers first choice of seats on board an aircraft.
Aer Lingus, JetBlue, British Airways and Swiss
What do these four airlines have in common? Irish seat manufacturer Thompson Aero manufacture a seat called Thompson Vantage and the design means two seats are in front of a single seat which in turn is in front of two seats and so on. Several airlines offer this seat and the single seats have come to be referred to as the throne seat or the Captain Kirk seat.
The JetBlue seat is advertised as a Mint Suite and features a door that closes you off from the aisle. British Airways inherited these seats when they acquired BMI so they feature on internationally configured Airbus 321 aircraft of which there are just 7 in the fleet.
On Aer Lingus the seats are 3K and 5K, on JetBlue it is 2A, 2F and 4A, 4F and on British Airways it is 1A, 2F, 3A, 4F, 5A, 6F, 7A and 8F. For Swiss it is 4A, 6A, 8A, 10A and 12A on the Airbus 330 and Airbus 340. The Swiss Boeing 777 has these at 4A, 5K, 7A, 8K, 9A, 10K, 11A, 12K, 14A, 15K, 16A and 17K.
British Airways World Traveller Plus
Speaking of throne seats, certain British Airways Boeing 747-400 aircraft have a pair of them in World Traveller Plus.
These are 28B and 28J and feature extra storage on the table next to you.
Airbus 380 Economy Class
There are thirteen operators of the Airbus 380 and nine of these feature one very special standard economy class seat. This seat has no seat in front of it which provides an eye popping amount of space. The reason for this is that there is an emergency escape hatch in the floor for a crew rest area which is underneath.
The seats to nab are 48D on Singapore Airlines, 25D on British Airways, and 71D on Qantas. Also try 34D on Air France, 47E on Korean Airlines, and 60D on Thai Airways. Finally, try 48D on Asiana, 68D on Qatar Airways and 69D on Etihad. Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa and China Eastern have their crew rest elsewhere so the seat is in place as normal.
British Airways Club World
British Airways Club World features seats in a ying yang configuration with the window and middle seats facing backwards and aisle seats facing forwards. When people are sleeping, those facing backwards need to step over the person beside them in order to access the aisle.
This can be avoided by selecting the last rear facing seats in the cabin as you have unimpeded access to the aisle. The best ones are the window seats and on the Airbus 380 these are 15A, 15K on the main deck and 53A, 53K, 59A, 59K on the upper deck. For the Boeing 747-400, it is 62A, 62K, 64A, 64K on the Upper Deck and 20A, 20K on the main deck. Four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft have 15A and 15K. On 3-Class Boeing 777-200 aircraft it is 5A, 5K, 11A and 11K. The new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft have just two at 16A and 16K. On the Boeing 787-8 it is 3A, 3K, 7A and 7K. Finally, on the Boeing 787-9 it is 7A, 7K, 13A and 13K.
Aer Lingus Economy Class
My personal favourite seat on the Aer Lingus Airbus 320 operating European routes is 3A or 3F. The window has a perfect alignment when seated, it’s nice and close to the front and you get priority boarding in this zone of the aircraft.
The other benefit is that Aer Lingus serve row 1 and row 3 first, then row 2 and row 4 and so on. This is a boon on a short sector such as Dublin to London Heathrow so you have time to eat. There is also plenty of leg room under the seat in front. The next best seats for window alignment and priority boarding are 6A and 6F.
Ryanair Economy Class
Ryanair have no bulkhead at the first row, so 1ABC are the best seats for people who are quite tall. You can stretch your legs out in front of the main entrance door and have no seats in front of you. Next best are 2DEF which do have a bulkhead in front but offer more space in front of your face than other seats. Stretching your legs is impossible here so tall people should beware.
Qantas Domestic Economy
Boeing 737-800 aircraft are the mainstay of the Qantas domestic fleet and the best seats in Economy Class are in row 4. Located immediately behind the Business Class cabin, these seats feature extra leg room as the cabin divider does not go to the floor.
As a result you can stretch out and really enjoy decent leg room while being right up the front of the aircraft. Due to their popularity these seats can usually be selected by high tier frequent flyers only.
British Airways Club World London City
The 32 seat all Business Class Airbus 318 service between London City and New York JFK features a unique seat. As all of them are the same, the real decision comes down to window alignment. Row 1 has only 2 windows but it is Row 1 and they’re aligned well. Next best for windows are Row 5 and 7 as they have three full windows per row.
Row 6 and 8 are next best, with the same amount but sort of arranged half window, 2 full windows, half window. Row 2, 3 and 4 have missing or unusual window alignments with Row 3 being worst of the bunch as you need to lean quite a bit forward to look outside. The other two have the window beside you and the missing one further forward.
Seat selection is a very personal thing. When I am travelling on an unfamiliar airline, I can spent quite some time researching the best seat in the class I am travelling in. All aircraft have good and bad seats and hopefully I’ve given you some idea of some of the good ones. Feel free to add other good seats on airlines in the comments below as I’d love to hear about them. Thanks for reading!