Q: Peter, I know you must fly a lot. Can you share any wisdom on the best places to sit on the plane?
–Ben Wisnewski, Akron, Ohio
A: Ben, the best seat on the plane depends on what you're looking for. In real estate, it's about location, location, location. That's true on planes, to some degree. You definitely don't want to be sitting across from the lavatory, with people lining up next to you the entire flight and unpleasant odors wafting your way. The same applies to seats near the galley. And if you're in a hurry, seats on the back of the plane are usually the last to exit.
But there are other factors to consider, such as legroom, width and convenience. Exit row seats generally have the most legroom, but some of these seats do not recline. So be sure to check with the airline first.
Many planes also have what are called "magic seats." These are window seats — often behind emergency rows — that have no seat in front of them at all. If you're all about legroom, that's hard to top. Bulkhead seats also have more room, but there's no place to stow your carry-ons, which means they may have to go overhead. Sometimes it's also tough to see the in-flight movie from these seats.
American Airlines generally has the most room in coach, and if you're an Elite member on United, the Economy Plus seats have even more space. JetBlue has certain seats on its Airbus A320s that offer extra legroom for an additional fee.
Check out a handy website called SeatGuru.com, which has diagrams of the seating arrangements for most airlines; it even includes notes on why certain seats are better than others in terms of pitch (the distance between seat backs), recline, width and even which ones have power ports available.
In terms of window seats versus aisle seats, I think window seats are overrated, unless you can actually sleep on the plane. Otherwise, you may feel claustrophobic, and it's a hassle if you need to get up often. The aisle gives you more flexibility; plus, you have an easier time exiting the craft when you land.
See Also: Tips for booking a quiet hotel room