I’ve done a bit of international travel in my years, and I’ve learnt a thing or two about various things along the way. One of those things is where to sit when you’re getting a long haul flight (‘long haul’ being at least 10 hours). If you can, choose your seat according to how well you’ll think you’ll travel the distance. A lot of airlines allow you to pick your seats (should there be available seats not yet designated to another passenger). If you can, you should try and pick your own seat.
On long haul flights, you will always take a huge plane. Often the seat structure is 3 seats, aisle, 4 or 5 seats, aisle, 3 seats. There are pros and cos to every seat, but where you should sit depends on a couple of things.
Choose the window seat if you’re not one to use the bathroom every hour. At the window seat you get…well you get the window. This is great if you’re flying over land and can see out…however it becomes a little pointless if you’re on an overnight flight because it’s dark outside and you have to shut the blind anyway. Sit here if you don’t pee very often, and if you don’t want to be disturbed by other people getting up to use the loo. If you are one to try and sleep, window seats are good because you have something else to lean against, should you need it. I’ve also found that you get a little extra leg room, on the other side of the seat leg in front of you. Bonus.
Middle seats, to me, are the worst seats ever. You get the worst of all worlds in a middle seat. You don’t get the window for day-time land looking, you don’t get the aisle to get up to use the toilet, or stretch your legs every so often. If you’re travelling with someone else and they don’t mind you resting your head on their shoulder, then you might get some sleep, and if you need to use the toilet, then there’s (normally) only one person to climb over. So I guess that’s better than two or three people to climb over…right? You decide.
The other con to a middle seat is that no one seems to know arm-rest protocol. If you’re in the middle seat, the worst possible seat in the plane, then you should have both arm-rests. The others have their perks, but you don’t have anything. Make sure you claim these at the beginning of the flight.
Aisle seats are the best if you know you’re going to get up and down a lot. On the aisle you can get up whenever you want (but only when the seat belt sign is off, my friends! Let’s be safety conscious here!), you can wander the aisles up and down the plane if you need a stretch and you don’t even have to climb over any one at all. All positives so far. However, the aisle seat also means you get luggage, elbows and food trolleys in your face at frequent times during the flight. There’s also the chance that other people walking around the aisles have to sort of lean into you if they are stepping to the side to let someone else past. Also, the aisle seat means you’re the ‘pass it along’ guy. All meals and drinks will go through you to get to the other people in your seat.
The front seats are for those people with super long legs. Like, legs so long they barely have torsos. If this you, you may like one of these ‘front of the cabin’ seats. You get plenty of leg room before you hit the wall between cabins, and the aisle/middle/window seat cons don’t really apply, because there’s room enough for you and your neighbours to come and go as you please without disturbing the others. However! This is where the babies often go. Yup. One time I was on a flight were there were three families with children under 5 in those front seats. If you want the leg room, take super great ear plugs with you, and be prepared to have a child flung in your face by an exasperated parent. Your choice, my friend. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
There are pros and cons to all the seats. Now you’ve got the low-down, the 411, the FYIs, and possibly even the answers to any FAQs you had. In the end, if you can’t decide, just let the airline seat-allocating programme pick your seat for you, or your travel agent. Then you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be lucky like I was on the way to England. I asked my travel agent for a window seat, which I got, and the seat next to me from Christchurch to Singapore and the seat next to me from Singapore to London was….empty!