Don't book these plane seats

Your choice of seat on the plane can make the difference between a comfortable journey and a flight for which you’ll need four gin and tonics to enjoy. Sure, seats with legroom are a major drawcard, but there are still some major drawbacks to those most prized of airplane spaces.

The good news is that with the advice in this article and the use of a seat comparison website, such as SeatGuru or SeatPlans, you can avoid thse seats and have a happy, comfy flight.

Middle seat
I don’t know a single soul who likes the middle seat, although I recently flew with someone who didn’t mind it, as long as she knew the person next to whom she was sitting. Quite often, though, you can get stuck with a middle seat, as the aisle and window seats are usually the first to be booked out. If a middle seat is on your horizon, we recommended reading our middle-seat survival guide.

Bulkhead rows
These seats may look dreamy after you’ve been stuck in cattle class for eight hours. They may be considered the first class of economy seats, and that’s because they have that little bit of extra leg room. But they come with the same hazards as the main exit seats. And unless you’ve got a baby basinet stuck to the bulkhead wall (a drawback in itself) you’ll find that your extra space is used as a thoroughfare between aisles and an area for in-flight yoga. Oh, did we mention the narrower seats and the fact that you’ll have to pay around 20 to 25 per cent extra for them?

In front of the loos or the galley
Any seats at the back of a section, which are usually in front of a toilet or the galley, are perfect for the type of traveller who likes to sit up dead straight the entire trip, or for anyone who wants the guarantee of not having a scrappy little so-and-so kicking into the back of your seat. However, if you like to kick back and recline, then best steer clear of these seats.

Next to the main exit door
This is a great seat if your only concern is extra leg room, but you don’t have the luxury of that handy seat pocket in front of you and your seat will be narrower, because it will have a solid side armrest that houses your tray table. Oh, and it’s usually a fair bit colder than the main exit seats, which may have something to do with a lack of insulation in the exit door.

plane seat exit row

In front of exit rows
The extra room enjoyed by passengers in seats next to main exit doors comes at the cost of the leg room for the rows in front. These seats also don’t recline so unless you like the old sit-up-straight routine, then leave these seats off your list.

The entertainment box seat
Sure, the word ‘box seat’ sounds great, but not in this instance. These seats have a large metal box underneath that houses the entertainment equipment, which takes up the entire area and prevents you from storing your bag beneath your legs. Especially annoying when there’s no room in the overhead compartment (which is almost always!).

Near the bathroom
In my humble opinion, this is the worst seat in the cabin. Let’s just ignore the stench, the urine seeping out from under the door and the sounds of straining and focus on the best part of this scenario. That is, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have an audience for the whole flight, as passengers line up for the loo or use the area to stretch their legs and use your seat as a hand rest for their version of plane Pilates. And there’s the constant chatter and the incessant bumping into your shoulder whilst you’re trying to sleep or watch your in-flight movie. Do I need to go on?

plane toilet signs

The broken seat
You can’t plan for this one and, as most passengers’ luck would have it, you’ll cop it on a full flight. It’s the seat with loose workings, broken recliner, bung headphone jack or spring sticking up into your nether regions. If, by chance, this happens to you on a not-fully-booked flight, just ask to be moved. With any luck, the only seats left will be in first class and you’ll get the free upgrade!

Tapered window seat
Many planes have a section of two by two seats at the back, which is handy for stuffing your carry-on but painful if you want to lean and sleep. Even more painful if the guy sitting behind you decides to use it as his stinky footrest.

The non-window, window seat
Some planes have seats that don’t align with the windows, so you have the chance of getting a seat with a big bar down the middle. This can not only obstruct your view, but it can also make sleep time a challenge should the person in front or behind you want to allow the light in. But, at least you’ll get some use out of your eye mask.

Back row
Non-reclining seats aside, you’ll most likely also have a loo behind you, so you’ll cop that stinky aroma for an entire flight. It’s also usually the last row to disembark, so enjoy that smell, bucko …

Seats between different configurations
This can be one of the most uncomfortable seats on a plane, because when the configuration changes, you have to twist and manoeuvre to find comfortable forward leg room.

Read more at Smarter Travel

Related articles:
Stop someone’s seat reclining
10 scary facts about flying
Make flying more comfortable

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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