Where you choose to sit on the plane can have a profound effect on how much you enjoy the ride. Savvy travelers understand that the best seat on the plane is a personal preference depending on your specific needs. Your overall travel style will dictate what type of seat will work best for you; after all, you don’t want to start your vacation off on the wrong foot.

Although everyone would clearly prefer that coveted first-class seat, you don’t necessarily have to be in the fanciest seat on the plane to have a pleasant flight. So, we’re gonna break down how to choose the right seat on an airplane — all depending on your situation, of course — that will (hopefully) make your next flight less stressful.

If You’re Flying Internationally…

Long-distance flights are always tricky because, on the one hand, you may need to get up multiple times, but on the other, you want your sleep too. Just determine if you’d rather sleep on the plane – soundly – or stretch out. If you want your sleep without running the risk of being disturbed, then choose the window seat and relax. It also makes sense because, if you’re taking any one way flights abroad that are super long, it’s no fun to be in the aisle seat when there are multiple requests for you to get up so that other passengers can move around.

If You Need to Walk & Stretch Your Legs Mid-Flight…

how to choose the right seat on an airplane for walking around

Stretching your body and going for a short walk up and down the aisles can relieve your muscles from soreness. Also, frequent circulation will help keep your muscles from becoming stiff and help you sleep better. If you’re easily restless or enjoy walking during the flights to give your muscles some relief, then definitely consider an aisle seat when you travel. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of a four-seat row and have to bother the person next to you to move.

If You Have Small Children…

how to choose the right seat on an airplane with kids

Children are known for their restlessness on airplanes, so if you have kids, make sure you seat them accordingly. If you know your kid is going to be extra cranky, consider the aisle seat. If he or she loves to look out the window, you know what to do. The bottom line is to engage your children without disturbing your fellow passengers.

Related: The Dos and Don’ts of Flying Comfortably in Economy Seating

If You Want Peace and Quiet…

how to choose the right seat on an airplane for peace and quiet

If you’re looking for a nice, quiet place to catch up on some work or get some much-needed shut-eye, it’s best to choose seats closer to the front of the plane. These are generally a bit quieter than those near the back of the plane by the restrooms and galley. Also, you should avoid seats located next to the wings of the plane where the engines are positioned. A window seat will be much quieter because you won’t be as close to the motion and chatter happening near the aisles.

If You Need Leg Room… 

If you’re looking for the best seat on an airplane for long legs, you may have to pay a little extra for it. Many airlines are now charging for exit Row Seats (or Emergency Seats with more legroom). If you’re really leggy, pay the extra fee and get comfy on your journey because there’s no reason to be cramped. 

If You Want a Some Sleep…

how to choose the right seat on an airplane when you want to sleep

If you want to catch some zzz’s while you’re on the plane, a bulkhead seat is usually your best option. You’ll have more room to stretch out and enjoy maximum comfort. Many travelers find that sleeping in a window seat is much more preferable to the other seats in the aisle. This is because you can lean up against the window while snoozing. It’s also easier to control the lighting in your immediate area by lowering the shade. You should definitely avoid choosing a seat near the bathroom or the noisy galley area. Seats near the front of the plane have a reputation for being quieter.

If You Want to Get Off the Plane Fast…

how to choose the right seat on an airplane to exit quickly

The last place that you want to be if you have a tight connection to make is at the back of the plane. Instead, you want to choose an aisle seat that is as close to the forward exit as you can get. This seat selection will ensure that you’re one of the first people off the plane. Everyone knows the frustration that comes with waiting for the passengers in front of you to gather their belongings and carry-on luggage and head off the plane. If this isn’t possible, be sure to alert the flight attendant that you have a tight connection to make so that they can make accommodations.

If You Want a Smooth Ride…

Regardless of the size of the aircraft, sitting in the middle of the plane will help to minimize the discomfort of turbulence. Sitting over the wing will put you closest to the plane’s center of gravity, helping to deliver a smoother flying experience. While you still may notice the turbulence, it will likely not be as severe as it would be sitting at the front or the back of the plane. Keep in mind that larger planes also tend to experience less noticeable turbulence.

Where do you prefer to sit while you’re flying and why? Tell us in the comments!

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