Today I found an interesting discussion on Lonely Planet on which side of the plane was preferable. While the article itself is more about the views (and to the “level” of plane geek-ness that they’re on, one person mentioned that they didn’t know SeatGuru existed), it left me thinking about my own seat preferences – where and on what side of the plane.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Hong Kong Airport
It wasn’t my first time thinking why my seat preference is. I flew to London with my friend Chareese in Virgin Atlantic economy in July, and her seat preference was frank: on the left side, as far forward as possible, for deplaning purposes, near the window. That’s the logic of 99% of airplane-flyers on the planet.
My seat choice logic is a little different, which I’ve eventually come to notice over the few years I’ve been on the blog.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Economy Class
So, what is my seat preference?
A window seat
While I get why other flyers would like the aisle seat, I find clambering over my neighbour much less of a pain than not being able to sleep at night. I find myself sleeping much easier in privacy, which is something I’ve only been seeing this year – when half of your body is in the aisle, it’s harder to do that.This is true even in economy – I find that the person in the aisle acts as a “shield” for all the foot traffic, even if there’s two of them. There’s less motion, and I eventually find the person in the aisle to be more of an object I need to avoid when getting to the washroom, unless I’m travelling with them. Even if I have
This is true even in economy – I find that the person in the aisle acts as a “shield” for all the foot traffic, even if there’s two of them. There’s less motion, and I eventually find the person in the aisle to be more of an object I need to avoid when getting to the washroom, unless I’m travelling with them.
In 1-2-1 configurations, I go for the sides no matter what. Unless you’re in Singapore Airlines Suites or China Eastern’s first class, you won’t be able to snuggle up to your travel buddy, which makes sitting in the middle pointless (jeez, if you need to talk to your seatmate, do it off the plane). Not only is there more privacy, but there’s also a window view, which you won’t be able to find in the center seats.
I find that pretty straightforward, so I’ll move on.
Near the back of the plane
This one’s a little harder to explain. One of the things I like to do on planes is taking pictures (as if that weren’t obvious enough already). It’s so easy to sweep down the aisle as the first one on the plane, taking pictures of empty seats, especially on novelty flights – by the time I put my stuff down and go back, either the flight attendants get super suspicious and ask if there’s anything wrong (which eats into my time of taking pictures as people get seated), or the seats are filled up, so I can’t take pictures anymore.
If I take cabin pictures from the back, I get nice pictures, like this:
Meanwhile, all I’m left with is this if I’m sitting at the front of the cabin (I can leave my seat if I want, but meh):
Another thing that I like is an empty seat next to me. People always prefer deplaning early, so they like choosing seats on the left side, near the door.
My strategy choosing seats is to avoid the seats on the left side in the forward cabin. So I keep choosing seats on the right side, in the back of the cabin. I’ve found best luck with empty seats there, and will continue to choose seats there in the future.
Finally, I like taking pictures of the wing, being the aviation geek that I am. I normally find that I like sitting either right in front of, or behind the wing (as much as I like being atop the wing, it limits landing pictures).
It’s harder to get a wing view in the second row of business class…
…than in the last row (admittedly Korean Air’s business class cabin is small, so the view really isn’t much better).
Some of you might be asking, “why sit in business class if you want a view of, or behind the wing? Pay half the price and you’ll get an even better view of the back of the wing.” Well, I’m may be an aviation geek, but not to that level… 😉
On the right side
While I’ve hinted at this, it’s actually the hardest point to prove. I’ve found myself trying to sit near the right side of the plane these days. While I try to balance out the tendency (it’s not like I’m stretching my leg in the aisle or anything, as my left side’s my dominant side), somehow I just feel more comfortable on the right side. I’ve hinted at one of the reasons above, but I like sitting with people I travel with, and I’ve only been completely alone on a plane once (as much as I liked it, I didn’t even end up with an empty seat next to me…and sure enough, clumsily, I kind of gave the guy a hard time).
One of the reasons I’ve found myself liking the right side is because there’s less foot traffic during boarding if you’re behind door 2L. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out – even if there’s a full load on both sides of the aircraft, most longhaul flights have three seats in the middle block, be they 777s, A350s or 787s.
3-3-3 configuration in Cathay Pacific economy class (sorry for the lack of variety – I don’t remember taking pictures on any other 3-3-3 economy cabins apart from Korean Air’s 777)
When flight attendants board planes, they always tell the people in the middle to board through the left side, leaving the right side with only four people per row boarding, while the left side boards five people per row. Given there can be up to 40 rows in economy, that’s up to 40 less people crossing your seat during boarding. (Of course, there are also A330s, 3-4-3 777s, etc. where an equal number of people board each side, but I just get accustomed to it…)
The same logic applies to catering, if I’m in 2-3-2 business class/premium economy or 3-3-3 economy (I haven’t been on a 767 ever in my entire life, which is something I’m planning to change, but the same logic would apply too).
A final reason doesn’t apply to most people – I used to be booked on the left side all the time, so every time on the right side it just feels different, in a good way.
I generally just think you should sit where you want to, but that’s my thought process when choosing where to sit on a flight.
Where do you like to sit on a plane?