What’s the Best Seat on Any Airplane?

How to get the most leg room and ensure you're far from the bathroom.

What’s the Best Seat on Any Airplane?

How to get the most leg room and ensure you're far from the bathroom.

10F. Of all the airplane seats in the sky that aren’t first class or business class, that’s the one for you—if you’re flying American Airlines, that is. If you’re flying Jetblue, it’s 11A. Delta? Trek all the way back to 27F.

Yes, it’s no secret that airplane seats have been getting smaller and smaller these days. As airlines chase profits at the expense of consumer comfort, the average amount of legroom has shrunk—nearly four inches, in fact, over the past few decades. So what’s a guy to do to snag an extra inch? Where does he sit?

“There are always a couple of seats on these planes that seem to be their own oases,” says George Hobica, founder and CEO of Airfarewatchdog. If you’re flying American, there’s a good chance you’ll be on a Boeing 757-200. “There are six seats on that plane that you really want to get: 10A, 10F, 9B, 9C, 9D, or 9E on that flight, you’ll have no one in front of you.” But if there are 6 choice seats, why 10F?

Simple: It’s the furthest from the bathroom.

“Basically, the exit row seats are the best seats in any plane,” says Hobica. “Of course, you’re gonna have to pay [more] for them. Someone’s going to. It might as well be you.” All in all, these choice airplane seats should run you no more than 70 extra bucks each way. Just be sure to pay attention when you’re making reservations; different airlines have different configurations, so that prized seat won’t be the same alpha-numeric across companies. (On Delta’s 757s, for example, those airplane seats are either 27A or 27F, while on Jetblue’s Airbus A320s—that company’s fleet equivalent to the 757—you’re looking at 11A or 11F. If you’re unsure what, exactly, to book, Seatguru is a great resource to check out.)

If you can, Hobica suggests landing a seat on a newer plane. “Manufacturers are developing seats more like upscale office chairs, rather than the old, thick, leather padding they have now,” he explains. Leather compresses over time and, after only a few years, those airplane seats no longer have any give. “It’s like sitting on a hard bench. So try out a factory fresh plane. Even though the seats are getting closer together, the new designs are going to be more like a [Herman Miller] Aeron, and less like your dad’s Lay-Z-Boy.”

Now that you know where to sit, only one question remains: What’s your final destination?

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