Sunday, 12 July 2015


So in my day, I have traveled on many many planes, on many many airlines.
Like cruise cabins, I really believe your seat can make a difference to your flying experience, especially for long haul. This post really does focus on those travelling in economy as this group of travellers does form the major part of the travelling contingent. For those of you travelling in business or first, there really isn't a crap seat... so please enjoy. Premium Economy travellers, you may want to refer to the seat maps on the website below.

Now one of the great sites to help you is

You can put in your flight number and date and it will bring up the seating for that aircraft.

*Airlines can change aircraft at any point including day of departure. It doesn't happen often, but please be aware this can happen.

*Seating is request only, sometimes due to operational reasons, you may be shifted, don't get cranky, it may be due to someone being ill or a family who need to sit together and it may not have been possible to arrange that before check in, or even at check in. This does not entitle you to an upgrade.

*Understand that your desired seats may already be being sat in by someone who booked before you, choose your next option.

So what advice do I have for seating? LOTS
So firstly, a lot of airlines close their seat maps (this is the picture of the aircraft you see where you choose your seats from) if the flight is more than 70% full. This gives them a little more control at the airport which they need if people need to be moved to sit next to each other etc.
Some airlines give you a way around this (up to a certain point) if you are/join their frequent flyer. Emirates is one that opens up a closed seat map (unless it is closed to all passengers)  if you put in your skywards number. So it's worth joining and putting the number in your booking to open up that seat map, choose your seat and be a happy traveller.

If an airline requires that you pay for seat selection, I pay. Say Qantas, flying to the USA from Australia, to choose your seat number before checkin costs $25AUD per sector long haul on Qantas operated aircraft. You know what? I pay that. I pay that because I want to have my aisle seat on my row of 4. I don't want to be on an aisle on the row of three. I hear you say "It's an aisle seat, what difference does it make?"
Well, sit on the aisle on the row of 4, you only have one person trying to get over you to go to the loo.
Sit on the aisle on the row of 3 (so on the side of the plane), you have TWO people trying to get over you to go to the loo. You could have to get up twice as many times to let someone out.

So consider the following seating configurations:
2-4-2 - My first selection will always be the 2 on the side, but never fear, if your desired seat is not available sitting on the 4 is not a major deal right? You only have 1 person climbing over you for either option.
3-4-3- My first selection will be the aisle on the block of 4 (I am an aisle person, so this post really is geared that way but the hints may help you with seat selection regardless of preference). However!!! Some 3-4-3 planes offer rows of 2 at the back of the plane, so I will ALWAYS check for this first. If they are full, then I will move forward to an aisle on a block of 4.
3-3-3 -This for me is a no brainer- aisle on the middle block of 3. Chances are, the person may not even climb over you, they may go the other way or take turns.

So here are some tips on aircraft I book seating on regularly (3 class is First/Business/Economy and 4 class is First/Business/Premium/Economy):

777 (300 ER 77W V2) - There are a few versions of this aircraft and most offer 2 seats at the back, but the advice below refers to the 777 version noted.
Row 46-50 blocks of 2 at back of aircraft. 46-48 are great (46 read the info on the legroom, due to the seats being slightly misaligned as the row in front is a block of 3). 48 sits in front of the toilets. I have sat here and there is no issue. 49 is right in front of the toilet door. 50 doesn't recline.

For those of you who want the extra leg room- 71D- not an exit, just in the middle of the economy cabin. For whatever reason it is an aisle that doesn't have a seat in front of it (your tv screen is under your arm rest). At this point, you don't have to pay extra for this leg room, so for those giants amongst you get paying your $25AUD to get this rather than your $90AUD for an exit row.
Also this makes Row 70 a row of 3, now seat guru says it has slightly reduced seat width, but if you are happy with that, you may want to consider this row as it has 2 aisle seats with only one in the middle.

A380 Upper Deck Economy- I spent ages waiting for these economy seats to come live in "manage my booking". Finally they did and I locked one in. Advantage, in the upper deck, smaller cabin. Disadvantage, if you want to get down to see your friends on the lower- you can't. They block off the stairs (for safety of course). But once I got over that, I loved it.

747- 4 Class Aircraft: Towards the back there are some rows of 2 seats in rows 70-73. To some the window may feel a bit cramped but if going for  the aisle or travelling as a couple, this is an option.
Also if flying from LAX-NYC on this aircraft, I book an aisle on the row of 4 towards the front as I want to get off and get out in my favourite town- and yes 15 mins makes all the difference :)
747- 3 Class Aircraft: Rows 69-73 are the 2 seaters.

Row 73 - I recently sat in this row. The recline is FINE. The toilets are behind you, not next to you.
The only draw back is the mis-aligned leg room due to the curve of the aircraft. We didn't find this too much of an issue as you have space down the side of your seat to put stuff.

Singapore Airlines 
A380 Version 1: Seat 48D, same as Qantas with no seat in front of it, thus making row 47 another row of 3 with 2 aisles.
A380 Version 2: Seat 48D, same as Qantas with no seat in front of it, thus making row 47 another row of 3 with 2 aisles.
A380 4 Class V1: 51D in this new 4 class aircraft, making Row 50 the 3 seater in front with 2 aisles
A380 4 Class V2: Same as above

Upper Deck Economy
3 Class- There are economy seats on the upper in a 2-4-2 configuration.
4 Class- No economy seats on the upper.

Virgin Australia
777 (300ER)- Row 51 is a block of 2 in a good position on a 3-3-3 configured aircraft.
I recently sat in the back row of this aircraft in the 2 seater. Pretty happy with it actually. Toilets not next to you but behind you.

Malaysia Airlines
A380- The lower deck config is 3-4-3, but they do have economy class seats on the upper deck. This used to be no children, but the policy changed. In any case, If I can get on the upper deck I will.

777- has a 2-5-2 configuration in economy, so always go for the 2 seats. Sitting on a block of 5 would do my head in.

Cathay Pacfic
747 4 Class- 3-4-3 in configuration except for last few rows which are 2-4-2. I would go for the ones towards the rear, but an aisle on block of 4 is about equal.
A340- 2-4-2 - so the perfect plane to choose from.

Happy Flying!

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