How To Choose Seats On An Airplane

by joeheg

When planning a flight, one thing that can make or break your experience is the location of your seat. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, like if you’ve booked a basic economy seat or if you’re flying on Southwest and have to make a snap decision on your seat as you board the plane.

Most airlines allow you to choose a seat before your flight. Depending on the airline, there may be a fee for selecting a seat, and prices can differ depending on what seat you choose. Except for ultra-low-cost carriers, there are usually some seats on the plane that you can choose for free if you’ve booked better than a basic economy ticket.

When we’re traveling domestically, our #1 airline is Delta.

a group of airplanes parked at an airport

Delta divides its seats into several categories. We’re not going to pay for First Class and there’s zero chance of us getting an upgrade. The next best seats are Delta Comfort+ and while we’ll occasionally pay for some extra legroom, it usually isn’t worth it.

a screenshot of a phone

Behind the rows of Comfort+ are the Main Cabin seats. That’s where you’ll usually find us. Occasionally, we even end up in the last row of the plane.

a man and woman taking a selfie

I try to avoid those seats when possible, so I’ll choose seats when I pay for my tickets. This is typically a few months in advance. It’s one advantage of having to plan vacations ahead of time due to work obligations.

I’m looking at seats for upcoming Delta flights and I have plenty of choices. I could pay for a “Preferred Seat” but I don’t want to pay $20 extra to sit a few rows closer to the front of the plane.  Preferred seats have an arrow in the corner.

a screenshot of a game

That leaves me with the rest of the rest of the plane.

Rows 26 and 27 are rarities with Delta, as they are exit row seats not designated as Comfort+. They’re a relative bargain for $30 but we’ve made a choice not to sit in exit rows.

a screenshot of a cell phone

I found it interesting that Delta blocked out the last rows of the plane.

a screenshot of a phone

So where do you sit when you have your choice of the Main Cabin?

I’ll usually pick a seat near the wing for two reasons. The first is that those seats are close to an exit in case of an emergency. The second is that I love to take over-the-wing pictures out the window during a flight.

an airplane wing and clouds

I’m definitely in team #openwindowshade.

Occasionally we’ll get a chance to fly on something other than a narrowbody jet, like one of our flights on a Delta 767-300. With a 2-3-2 layout, I’ll get a window seat and Sharon can get her desired aisle seat.

a screenshot of a phone

Final Thoughts

I know that some people have choosing seats on a plane down to a science. While it’s not as important on a narrow-body plane, there are some seats that are better than others. Typically, I spend a few minutes checking if any rows have a misaligned window or reduced space, but besides that, on a domestic flight, a seat is a seat.

Airlines have long figured that people will pay extra for the few seats on the plane which offer extra legroom. If I want some extra space, I can always pay for a better seat. But for most flights, I’m only looking for a seat which will get me to my destination and I’m not willing to pay extra for much more than that.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Deng Li May 28, 2023 - 11:49 pm

Delta continues to devalue their miles defrauding their best customers out of the points they earned. Delta is your preferred airline?


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