Where Exactly Is the “Worst” Seat to Book on an Airplane?

One air traveler's worst seat might be another's ideal spot

Airplane interior
Selecting a seat when flying can be a challenge.
Sun Zifa/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

When booking air travel, there’s one inevitable question that comes up when selecting a seat: where do you want to sit? Though this could just as easily be phrased another way: where don’t you want to sit? For some travelers, an aisle seat is perfect; for others, it foreshadows a journey involving beverage carts bumping your elbows and people stepping on your feet as they make their way down the aisle. Window seats, too, have their advocates and their detractors.

A recent article in the Mirror pointed to a column published earlier this year by John Burfitt, who made the case for a historically maligned seat — namely, the window seat near the rear bathroom. Burfitt had a very particular reason for wanting to sit in the row in question: he described multiple flights where the passenger behind him repeatedly kicked his seat.

Writing of “the look of contentment from the people in the back row of the cabin,” Burfitt makes a convincing argument. And, as someone who once endured a turbulent Austin-to-Chicago flight with a toddler kicking the back of my seat for what seemed like the duration, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a flight where there’s zero chance of something like this happening.

There are plenty of things to consider when selecting a seat — but perhaps, the primary thing to consider is what seat will offer the fewest opportunities for things you hate experiencing while flying. If you seethe when someone reclines their seat in your face, perhaps an exit row is best; if you’d rather curl up and sleep for the bulk of your flight, a window seat sounds optimal. Sometimes, finding the perfect seat involves figuring out what the opposite of that is, and working back from there.


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