Make no mistakes about it: the right airplane seat is serious business. Choosing your seat in a specific area of the plane can make or break your flight — and set the mood for your whole trip. But selecting the right place to sit is more complicated than it might seem at first. You want the seat that maximizes your comfort while also giving you easy access to the things you’ll need. Luckily, we’ve done the legwork on figuring out here you should sit on your flight.

Form an Exit Strategy

passenger sitting next to the exit door of a plane

Lots of frequent fliers like to extoll the virtues of the exit row, some even considering it the ideal spot for airplane seats. And while there are some distinct advantages, there are more than a few factors to consider. On the plus side, the wider row means plenty of legroom. And the seats of the row in front of you don’t recline, so you don’t have to deal with someone taking a nap in the middle of your dinner. On the other hand, children aren’t allowed in exit rows, so this option doesn’t apply to families. If you don’t know the native language of your flight, you can’t be in that row because you need to be able to take instructions in case of an emergency. Finally — and most importantly — in an emergency situation, people in this row will be expected to assist.

Put in a Bulk Order

passenger comfortable in airline seat

The bulkhead is another popular spot for travelers. These seats, which are directly behind some sort of wall or curtain, have no one in front of them. That means no one reclining and bothering you. There’s also generally way more legroom, which is a great feature for families who want to let the kids spread out and play. That being said, nabbing a bulkhead seat does not automatically ensure a wealth of legroom. Some bulkhead rows have surprisingly tight quarters (especially on small planes), so be sure you know what kind of space you’ll have before you decide.

Making a Move or Staying Put?

passenge rin airline seat is reading a book

When picking the perfect seat, placement is everything. But which spot works best for you depends on a few factors, particularly movement. Are you the type of person who likes to stay put the whole flight? Then an aisle row might not be a top pick for you. If you get up frequently (or are with someone who will need assistance throughout the flight), the aisle seat is your best bet.

Engage in Some Child’s Play

Adorable little girl traveling by an airplane

Traveling with children is another major factor to consider when choosing airline seats. As stated earlier, many prefer the bulkhead aisle for the added space. Others swear by the back of the plane, where there is usually a bit more room. It also offers more privacy than the front or middle of the plane, which can be perfect for families.

Enjoy a Bird’s Eye View

passenger looking out on view from airplane window

If you swear by the window seat, you might think you’re in for smooth winds. A great view and a wall to lean against if you want to nap — what’s not to love? But while choosing a window seat does ensure you’ll only have one passenger next to you, it doesn’t always guarantee a window. Due to the setup of some planes, ‘window’ seats end up being ‘wall’ seats instead. To ensure you get the view you’re looking for, check out apps that can give you an exact idea of where your seat is located.

Play the Middleman

passenger talking to flight attendant

Face it: almost no one enjoys flying in the middle seat. It lacks the window of one, the movement of the other, and has less space than either. It’s an undesirable location on almost any plane, and many passengers avoid it as best they can. That being said, odds are that if you travel often enough you’ll end up in that unwanted middle spot. If you find yourself stuck in the middle aisle bring sleep aids (like a good travel pillow) to make rest easier. And don’t forget your headphones — you never know when you might end up with an overly talkative seat neighbor!

What’s your favorite place to sit on airplanes, and why?

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