Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Sometimes you can choose your seat on the plane. Dilemma: is it better to sit in the front, middle or back of the plane? What is the best seat in the plane?
Which seat to choose?
I have the chance to fly soon for a new escapade in Southeast Asia! And the airline I'm flying with allows passengers to select their seat on the plane in advance via their website. I love it!!!
All you have to do is check a little square corresponding to the seat you want in the online reservation manager. However, despite my enthusiasm, when I clicked, I had a doubt...
So, before deciding, I went to Google: "best seat on a plane". That's smart... Now I have no idea which seat to choose! 🤔
Window seat : my favorite place to sit on a plane
Well, yes. When possible, I always take a window. There is no doubt about it: I like to see outside, to watch the take-off, the landing, I like to look at the clouds, the lights of the cities at night, the mosaic of the fields, the blue expanse of the oceans.
And then the corner allows to place a cushion, a pillow, to support the head, to settle more comfortably, to relieve the cervicals. I am a fan of the window seat.
And when I need to get out of the row, I disturb my neighbors politely with a big smile without feeling too guilty (after all, it's good for everyone to move around a bit during such a long flight). I admit that I dared, a few times, seeing that everyone was sleeping (but only in the middle of the "night" on a long-haul flight, with the whole cabin plunged in the dark) to step over their knees while climbing on my seat to pass discreetly and lightly, in my socks, from armrest to armrest... At best, they see nothing. At worst, they open one eye and watch me do it, a bit frightened but not angry that they didn't have to get up.
Anyway. The best seat in the plane for me is a window seat.
Of course, seats at emergency exits are the most popular, as there is legroom. But by the time I make my reservation, they're all already taken or pre-empted. Too bad.
The best seat in the plane: front, middle, back?
In fact, what I'm wondering is which window to choose: the front, the middle or the back of the unit?
It's strange that I'm now concerned about this detail, even though I've already taken the plane many times, especially since it's not the first time I've chosen my seat in advance on a reservation site. I usually do it without any qualms. And I'm not prone to fear on planes.
Although. I invite you to reread some posts published on this blog:
➜ Traffic jams of the sky
➜ How Effective Prayers Are on Lion Air
➜ Thirteen takeoffs and thirteen landings
➜ Fear on the plane (the only time I was scared for real)
➜ Say Your Prayers on Lion Air (bis)
So, because of Google, I dug up a lot of links about "the best seat on the plane". I got three things out of it:
1. One would have a better chance of surviving a plane crash, if one is placed in the back of the plane. A statistical study, carried out on accidents that have occurred since the 1970s in the United States, says so (see diagram below). Logical: in case of impact, it is the front that takes everything...
2. But the flight is less pleasant (even more frightening) at the back of the plane, because you feel more turbulences there. And then at the time of disembarkation, we generally find ourselves in the last ones to leave the aircraft. Not ideal, we end up at the end of an endless queue for the transit controls or the formalities on arrival. It is better to settle at the front to save time.
3. The flight is in principle more comfortable in the middle of the aircraft, at wing level. The shocks are less there during turbulences. But this is also where the tank is located. In case of fire or explosion, the worst place, therefore (if you like to imagine the worst).
I'm putting here some interesting links that I found on this subject:
➜ Safest Seat on a Plane [Popular Mechanics] (the famous American statistical study, in English)
➜ This is the Safest Place to Sit on a Plane [Time] (similar statistical analysis)
➜ How to choose the best seat by plane [LeFigaro.fr]
➜ Forum "Fear of flying" [Crash-aerien.com]
➜ The safest seat on a plane [HuffPostQuebec]
Update, February 2023. Years after the first publication of this article, I add this more recent link to the evening edition d'Ouest-Francetaken from the site The Conversation, which comes to the same conclusions about backseats: "The middle seats in the last row [...] are statistically the safest on an airplane." ➜ What is the safest seat on a plane? Here is the scientific answer
Moral: it's not a good idea to ask Google these kinds of questions... 😂
This story of the place at the front, in the middle, or at the back, is a false dilemma. Crashes are rare, it is a bit silly to choose your seat based on this risk criterion. In reality, when it comes to choosing the best seat in the plane, the real criterion, is comfort.
To finish, I found another link, very interesting to choose the best seat in the plane according to this criterion:
It lists all types of aircraft in service on commercial flights, specifying for each seat the disadvantages and advantages in terms of comfort: legroom, proximity to toilets and galleys, inclination of the backrests, location in relation to the collective projection screen or presence of individual screens, etc.
It is therefore worth checking what type of aircraft you will be flying on and studying its configuration before booking your seat.
Conclusion: the real best seat on the plane
In short: there is no need to wriggle, the real best seat on a plane is obviously the one that allows you to spend the trip as pleasantly (in other words, as comfortably) as possible...
Naturally, the ideal is to get an upgrade and to be able to enjoy the luxury of first or business class seats. I secretly dream about it every time I book.
Well... The main thing is that there is a pilot in the plane!
UPDATE # 1 → July 2013: it finally happened to me, to taste something other than the relative comfort of economy class: in exchange for extra miles, I was able to travel in business class, on an Emirates flight, between Dubai and Paris!!! The big foot. Maybe I'll tell you about it someday...
UPDATE # 2 → July 2016: it finally happened to me too, to benefit graciously, without asking or trying anything special, from an upgrade in business, on a Qatar Airways flight, between Doha and Jakarta!!! Even more pleasant, since it was really a surprise... Happiness in the air. I tell it here → How to get a flight upgrade for free.
UPDATE # 3 → July 2018: I managed to get upgraded again on Qatar Airways, on the Doha-Jakarta leg!!! This time, as I had just acquired the superior status in the loyalty program, I was able to present myself for boarding in the VIP priority line... And while I hadn't even requested the upgrade yet, the young lady at the counter did so immediately when she saw me handing over my boarding pass. She changed my ticket from coach to business class again! Yess!!!
UPDATE # 4 → February-March 2019: I became the queen of the upgrade, I benefited from TWO upgrades free of charge, one on the outward journey and the other on the return journey, on the Paris-Doha section. From now on, when boarding, I don't hesitate to ask systematically if there is a possibility of a free upgrade, always very politely, just in case... You can never be sure of a very good surprise.