Which seat is best when flying solo?

I’ve flown by myself many a time, but I still go through the same motion of working out where is the best place to sit if I am travelling alone in Economy or Premium. Is it the window or the aisle? Here is my analysis on the common situation.

The Window Seat

I’m the kind of person who loves to sit by the window on any form of transportation and unsurprisingly admire the views outside. You might have guessed that through the alarming amount of cloud photographs on my Twitter and Instagram feeds. For me, the issue however is that I feel guilty when I want to get up for a while and stretch my legs; which means disturbing the passengers next to me whom may be snoozing or are heavily engrossed in a movie. Funnily enough I once heard a random fact that passengers seated by the window would probably drink less than those on the aisle; as like me, they would feel bad about having to disturb someone to get out. No joke.

The Aisle

In the respect that I am able to get up and walk around as many times as I please without intentionally disturbing anyone, three seats are great. However one of the major downsides is potentially being knocked by someone (or their bags!) as they walks down the aisle, the draught, or even the lack of motivation to power up the laptop and do some work if I know at some point I’m going to need to unplug all the cords to let someone out. Also, is it just me or do all airlines seem to fit those pesky IFE data boxes onto the aisle seats? Those boxes my friend take away some well-needed space, particularly on very long flights.

Where on the aircraft?

Now I’ve rambled on about the window or aisle seats, next is the question as to where on the aircraft! For the purposes of this, let’s imagine we are travelling in Economy or Premium (if it’s offered). Depending on the airline and how they have configured the aircraft is usually a big factor, but here are some things to keep in mind.

  • A seat towards front of the cabin means you’ll be able to disembark faster (and beat people to the immigration queue). However a downside is that you are usually closer to the bulkhead seats which may be occupied by very small children. I have no problem with them, but admit that after an hour or so of screaming I will probably lose the will to live. You might also need to walk farther to the lavatories. The one’s just beyond the curtain in-front of you are for Premium/Business only!
  • Sitting to the rear is good, but expect a little bit of noise due to the location of the galley and lavatories. You might not be able to get your meal preference for the first-service, but should for the second. I don’t know why, but I find that it can also get very warm the farther back you are down the aircraft. Oh and forget about having a short wait at immigration, unless you are really lucky and would want to sprint past everyone on the walk from the gate to the immigration hall. Not that I’ve done that or anything…
  • Upstairs or downstairs? If it’s a 747 and there are seats in “the bubble”, you can be sure I’ll be trying to get one of those. For starters you have a smaller cabin and although the overhead bins might be smaller, the “lockers” besides the window seats are great. Of course, you must be able to climb stairs to use these seats. I’ve never flown on an A380, but I’d probably go for the upstairs cabin too.


Other things to consider

Some passengers aren’t really bothered whether they sit on an aircraft, whilst others have a preference. Because it’s nothing but pure profit for the airlines, more carriers are following the trend to charge for seats that are assigned outside of the online check-in window; but there do still remain a handful whom offer free seat assignment at any time. I’m usually one of those who would be happy to pay a little extra to choose a seat in advance; however I know some passengers aren’t, and I fully respect that.

Thankfully a few airlines offer extra legroom or exit-row seating for an additional charge; which is a great way to enjoy a little more space at a fixed price that doesn’t break the bank. It’s worth bearing in mind you’ll need to conform to CAA regulations in order to travel in exit-row seats; but that’s as far as the restrictions go. If you have reduced mobility or require special assistance, it’s certainly worth letting the airline know well in advance; so they can arrange any special arrangements and seating requests for you. This can be done either online, by phone or at the airport – but I’d always suggest you let the airline know of any special requirements at least 48 hours prior to your flight, but ideally at the time of booking.

What I would say is that I once called through to an airline to request some specific seats that I knew were available for a journey, and they put me on hold whilst they were looking at the booking. The agent actually forgot to put me on hold and shared a few remarks about my seat-preferences to their colleagues. I didn’t say anything at the time, but I wished I did. Some people may have just a simple preference, but others may have medical-related needs as to why they are requesting specific seats. I really felt let down by that airline’s customer service and haven’t flown with them since.  I sincerely hope any airline staff reading this take note and use a little bit of common sense.

Decision time

Rant over, but choosing whether to sit by the window or aisle is really a dilemma I face all-the-time. I’m so bad at making a decision, that I would usually sit in an aisle seat on one-flight, and besides the window on the other sector.

There are however potential ways to have the best of both worlds, although I admit I might need to win the lottery first to enjoy some of these:

  • Book the seat(s) next to you. Some airlines do offer this for around £75 per seat, per flight.
  • Upgrade to a Skycouch when flying with Air New Zealand. I can sit in any of three seats!
  • Bite the bullet and splash out on business-class to enjoy the life of direct aisle access.

It’s not really relevant to this topic, but when I travel with my parents; I usually start off by the window, then switch to the aisle, and then back to the window for the end of the flight. It’s just how it works. I am sure there are many who do the same as me too.

So, where do you think an individual should sit when flying solo? Leave your comments below and let’s see what is the most popular option. Don’t forget to vote in my latest Twitter poll too!

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