The Best Place to Sit on a Plane, According to a Flight Attendant

Plane Seat
Harper & Harley

Depending on your preferences, certain plane seats offer distinct advantages that can help you have the smoothest possible in-flight experience when traveling, while others will leave you counting down the minutes until landing. No one understands this more than flight attendants, who arguably spend more time in the air than on the ground. As Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant Kaipo Kauka recently revealed, the best places to sit on a plane depends on what kind of a passenger you are.

The difference between an aisle and a window seat can be about much more than a view, and the decision to sit next to an emergency exit could mean more trouble than simply reading a pamphlet before takeoff. Whether you get cold easily, know you'll need to use the restroom at least a few times, or are picky when it comes to your in-flight meal, there's a seat that's best for you (and some you'll want to avoid).

If You Want to Catch Some Shut-Eye…

Go for a window seat if you're planning on sleeping your way through a flight. According to Kauka, the window seat gives great support when catching some z's. "Your seat neighbor will thank you for not leaning on them, instead," he says. Plus, you won't be disturbed every time someone in your row needs to get up to use the restroom or stretch in the aisles.

When choosing a window seat, go for the left side of the plane. The left tends to be off-center thanks to the front door positioning, so you can rest your head against the column between windows more comfortably.

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If You Know You'll Need to Use the Restroom…

Pick an aisle seat if you know you'll need to get up from your seat during the flight to use the restroom. This way, you won't have to bother the other passengers in your row. If you're still concerned about making it to the restroom during your flight, Kauka recommends booking a seat close to the lavatory ahead of time.

If You're Traveling Light...

No baggage? Sit in the bulkhead. Most passengers might avoid it because you can't have a carry-on bag or purse at your feet in front of you (for safety regulations, these will have to go in the overboard bin for take-off and landing), but if you're traveling light or don't need access to your bag in-flight, you'll get some additional legroom for free. Another bonus? There's no seat in front of you, so you won't have someone reclining into your lap.

If You Get Chilly Easily…

Avoid seats near any doors or emergency exit windows if you find yourself shivering when flying. "These exits allow the outside cold air to seep into the aircraft," Kauka explains. Although they generally offer extra legroom free of charge, they're not the place for someone who easily catches a chill.

If you're pregnant or traveling with a child under 12 or 15 (depending on the airline), you aren't allowed to sit in the exit row, so choose your seats accordingly.

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If You're a Picky Eater…

Sit near the front of the plane in order to get the food, drinks, and snacks you want. Kauka notes that flight attendants usually start food and drink service from the front of the plane, making the first few rows ideal for anyone hoping to get their meals quickly and have first dibs on snacks and beverages.

If You Hate Turbulence...

There's no way to avoid turbulence entirely, but for the smoothest ride possible, sit as close to the wing—over the wing, if you can—as possible. The further you sit from the wings, the bumpier the ride will be. As much as you want to be first off the plane, the middle is probably your best bet, here.

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