Planning to travel by air has never been an easy one, even for most frequent traveller. Most people are restless few days to their trips because of the distance and the jet lag they might experience after the flight.
The fretfulness is more when the traveller knows he is going to travel in an economy cabin with small room for leg. But with good and wide knowledge of how to make the most use of the cabin, you can conquer such fears.
Selecting the best Economy Class seat can be confusing, and for the less frequent travellers, it can be cumbersome, so there is need to be familiar with some information that may assist a traveller in this cabin.
More and more airlines now offer the option to reserve your seats online, either at the time you make your booking, or when you perform online check-in. This is the safest way to try and get the seat of your choice, but remember that this is certainly not always a guarantee that you will receive this seat on your flight.
The airline may change the aircraft type before you travel, so the seat numbers you have selected might either change or not be in the position that you had expected. There are also many instances where the
airline’s “system” may decide to re-allocate your chosen seat to another passenger – and you will be left trying to resolve this at airport check in, sometimes without result.
Want the front, middle or back of the cabin? This is a matter of personal choice, but on wide-body aircraft you will generally find that the front of the Economy cabin is the quietest, normally just in front of the aircraft engines. The rear of the cabin tends to be noisiest from an engine noise perspective, and this also tends to bump around more during turbulence. Of course, on less than full flig hts, you normally find that there are more empty seats at the back of the plane where you can spread out.
For the meal services, it is difficult to suggest where you are more likely to be offered the full choice of meals before they run out. Some airlines even start meal services from the front of the cabin, some the middle, and a few from the back.
As for the aisle, middle or window seat, in most instances, the least preferred seat is the middle seat, especially on those airlines where the centre section of cabin sitting might provide a ‘five across layout’- so if you draw the middle seat, you have to ask two passengers to move each time you want to stretch your legs, use the washroom, etc.
If you want to get on the flight, and sleep with as little disturbance as possible, then a window seat may be the best option – you also get the outer cabin wall to lean against, rather than falling asleep on your
fellow travellers. Remember however that the cabin walls on some aircraft have more curvature than others, and the window seat can feel as if it has less shoulder-room than ordinary seats.
The aisle seat gives you easy access to walk around, but worth remembering that you might be getting up and down for your fellow passenger seated next to you.
The aisle seat positions can also be prone to knocks and bumps as passengers walk past or try to squeeze past service carts in the cabin – you often find out in an aisle seat how inconsiderate some fellow travellers can really be.
For the exit row or bulkhead seat, many airlines now charge an additional fee to sit in the exit rows, others will allocate at check-in (remarkably some airlines still favour these seats for much taller passengers). You do get a lot more legroom in an exit seat, but on the downsides there are a few pints to remember. You will not be allowed to keep any items of hand-luggage, even books, etc, sometimes, by your seat/foot-well area during landing and take-off periods, and as the bins above your seat may be full by the time you realise, you will have to hope for a co-operative cabin crew that will take these items off you at these periods and return them after take-off and landing.
Another tip is to try and avoid the toilet and galley areas. Aside from the obvious fact that being seated next to or right behind the toilet can result in unpleasant odours,
etc, wafting around you, the toilet flush is extremely noisy on most aircraft, and you will find this incessant noise interruption very annoying after several hours of constant repetition.
During the darkness or sleep periods, you might also be tired of the light intrusion every time passengers open the washroom door – and similar to some bulkhead/exit seat positions, you will find that there are often a lot of passengers milling around your seat area as they queue for the washroom.
Being seated next to or opposite the Galley areas can also be a bad choice – you will find that the level of pedestrian traffic (cabin staff and passengers) is much higher, the curtains may not always be kept shut so you get light intrusion, and as hard as staff might try, the preparation and clearance of meals will result in the galleys being quite noisy for these periods of the flight.
On legroom space, some passengers will find that their foot-space (I.e. the area under the seat in front) is impacted by the location of the control box for the in-flight entertainment (IFE), especially on long haul flights. This is something that is gradually being changed and improved by seat suppliers, but don’t expect quick results. Across many airlines, this IFE control box might be located in the aisle seat foot-well area, although for some, it is the window or middle seat that suffers – so, no hard and fast rules could apply.