Airplane Seat Planning

  • 01 of 04

    Why Find Your Airplane Seat Before You Fly?

    woman on plane
    Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Creative RF/Getty Images

    You've bought your airline ticket, so your logical next question should be: where am going to be sitting. It's important to find this out because let's face it: air travel is the opposite of fun, so scoring yourself a great seat can help ease the stress of flying, especially if you'll be jetting off on a long-haul journey. 

    When you make an airline reservation, a seat will be automatically assigned to you, but you'll usually also have the option to choose a different seat. Choosing an airplane seat involves more than choosing between a window or aisle seat. A window seat could be over a wing, for instance, but you won't necessarily know that until you're seated. A few things to ask when choosing your your seat assignment are

    • Where is my seat located? Am I at the front of the airplane?
    • Will I be sitting near the bathroom or emergency exit?
    • Does my seat have extra legroom?
    • Can I fully recline my seat?
    • Do I want to upgrade to first or business class? What are the differences in seats and services between first, business and coach class?
    • Can I plug in my laptop, phone or tablet at my seat?

    Use the websites described below to help you chose a seat that will make your flight more pleasant and relaxed.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Find Your Plane to Find Your Seat

    Sick on a plane
    Izabela Habur/E+/Getty Images shows you airplane seat maps online so you can find out whether your airplane seat is over a wing or next to the toilets. If you dislike your seat assignment after checking your placement with Seat Guru, change your seat by logging in to the airline's website. Keep in mind that you'll likely have to pay to move to more desirable seats, such as the ones with extra legroom. 

    Start by looking at your booking confirmation (or flight number if you're still in the booking process) and heading for Find your airline from the list at the left side of the home page. Seat Guru offers seat maps (seating charts) for the larger airplane bodies. All you have to do is enter in your airline and flight number, and you'll be shown a map of where your current seat allocation will be in the place. 


    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Key to Plane Lavatories, Exits, Galleys, Laptop Plugin Ports

    flight eticket on phone
    Hinterhaus Productions/Taxi/Getty Images

    The Seat Guru information page on the airline you'll be flying with also shows you a color coded key. With this, you can scan the plane's interior and find lavatories, exits, galleys (kitchen areas), laptop plugin ports and desirable seats.


    I know I don't want to sit near a bathroom. If I'm not feeling well, proximity to a bathroom might be important. If someone else isn't feeling well, sitting near a lavatory might be a drag. I'll want to know where the head is in relation to my seat!


    An exit door in my aisle is not a bad thing; it means more legroom because of the space required for the door. It also means I may not get a window view at my elbow or that overhead storage may be limited.


    When I first started flying, I thought that sitting near the galley (the airplane's kitchen area) meant that I'd be among the first to get inflight drinks and food. Not always true. Instead, the flight attendants cart their wares several rows back and I wind up last to be served, as well as being close to the kitchen clatter and smells.

    Laptop ports

    Is this important? I may want to recheck my travel notes while I'm in the air. On the other hand, I can find travel details in my travel journal or guidebooks which are under my seat in my carry on bag.

    Seat Key

    Seats themselves are colored green (good), yellow (something's up with this seat), or red (yuck).

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  • 04 of 04

    Enjoy Your Flight!

    Girl looking for flights at airport
    Silvestre Machado/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Once you've decided on a seat that looks perfect for you, log in to your online booking, check out the available seats on the flight, and choose a new one if you're willing splash the cash on a better experience. 

    It can seem like a time-consuming process, but taking a few extra minutes out of the booking process to research what's going to be in store for you on the flight can make all the difference. 

    Enjoy your flight!


    This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff