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Business and First Class Seats


Please review the seating information section to determine best seats available on individual airlines.


You may have seen advertisements prodding you to buy a book about how to upgrade your coach seats to business or first class. Strategies discussed include everything from arriving well dressed at the airport, to presenting travel agent credentials. Some of these ideas worked several years ago but airlines have realized the value of premium seats and they are very difficult for leisure travelers to be upgraded to.


First and business class seats are issued in a priority order with the first choice going to those who actually paid for a upper class seat. The remaining seats are than allocated to frequent flyers with the best customers offered upgrades first. Airline employees traveling on free tickets are also given priority for the seats if any are still available. It is extremely rare to see long distance flights with empty premium seats. Even in first and business class some seats are much better than others consult SeatGuru and SeatExpert to see which seats are best.


We would love to tell you we had some secret plan for you to be upgraded to the best seats on the plane but we can not.  What we do propose in the following sections is how to get the best seat in coach class and how to make your next flight more comfortable.


The following tips will show you how to make your coach class ticket a first class ride, and arrive without the aches and pains of  extended confinement in a coach class seat. Please review the seating information page accompanying this page.


The best economy class seat!


Knowing which seat offers the most comfort is important, and the seating information page with its links is a very valuable tool. Exit rows, aisle or window seats, and seats near the front of the plane are most desirable. On a red eye flight, you may want a window to rest your head against. Rows near flight attendant work stations and restrooms may be noisier and experience more foot traffic; seats close to cabin movie screens can be too bright if you are trying to sleep. Exit row or “bulkhead seats” are not all the same; some offer less leg room than other seats. Carefully review airline seating plans and the advice of Seatguru or Seatexpert before requesting any seat.

Reserving the best seat can be much more difficult than knowing which seat is best. Most airlines set aside premium economy seats for elite members of their frequent flyer programs. Bulkhead and other more preferred seats are usually only allocated by gate agents at the departure ramp and are not available to book via internet sites or the airline telephone agents.

Many airlines will allow you to book your seat when you make the reservation but some do not allow seat assignments beyond certain timeframes. If you are prohibited from booking the seats when you make the reservation, find out when is the earliest seat assignments can be made. Know which seat you want by reviewing the seat information for the airline you will be traveling and book the seats as early as possible.

Some discount airlines do not allow seating assignments until check in at the gate, if you are flying a discount airline plan on arriving even earlier than normal as seats are generally assigned on a first come priority basis.

Many airlines reserve the front portion of the economy section for members of their frequent flyer plans and joining one of the programs may benefit you in more ways than mileage accumulation alone.  Some of the airlines actually allocate more legroom and seat pitch to these seats and they are more comfortable than other economy seats. What the airlines don’t tell you is they seldom sell out this section and make the unsold seats available to the general public within twenty-four hours of departure.  Calling back to change your seats on the last day can offer significant advantages.

For long haul flights economy class can be very comfortable if you have a vacant seat next to you.  If you are traveling with a companion try to book two seats in a row with a three seat  configuration, and an empty seat between you. On the new 777 aircraft the two isle seats in the center row are your best bet for having an empty middle seat between you since the center row is the least popular on the plane and hardest for airlines to fill.

On the 747 with a 3-4-3 seat configuration the two isle seats of the center row are not as likely to result in empty seats in the middle because two seats are available and as the plane fills, couples or companions flying together will be assigned those seats.  On 747 or any other aircraft with three seat configurations book the isle and the window. If your plane really is full and you want to sit next to your companion I assure you the person in the middle seat will be willing to change with one of you.  This is not a good strategy for a bulkhead row, because the armrests contain the tray table and you can not move them to make more room

Book reservations separately


Many airlines automatically assign seats together when tickets are booked at the same time.  Some airlines are very reluctant to separate two people booked on the same reservation and will by default seat you together.  Gate agents are even more reluctant to separate passengers with the same reservation as they are tasked with filling every seat in a row.  Making two separate reservations allows the flexibility to ask for two seats with an empty seat between you.

Airline Choices


The definition of which airline is best is different for each individual. For some the most important consideration is seat comfort: enough leg room, or more seat pitch and width. Factors important to others are video and entertainment services, internet and telephone access, cabin service, meal quality and airline frequent flyer programs.  The most important decision you may make to determine the quality of you next flight is the airline you are flying.  Airline fares do not seem to have a direct correlation between service and price, in fact some of the highest rated airlines in the United States are considered discount carriers. Skytrax is a site dedicated to rating the levels of service and comfort for all major airlines and should be consulted before your next booking.


Check Seat Availability


Sites like Orbitz allow you to view seat availability before you book your flight and you may wish to book a less popular flight with more room. Sites that show seat availability also allow you to choose  seats, and this can be a big advantage. The seat charts have limited function however in that they will not allow you to book seats in the premium sections of the plane. Bulkhead and exit row seating may appear full when it is not the case. The advantage however of viewing the seating chart is it will make you aware of how full the plane is, and this can be helpful if you wish to change your seating at the gate.

Family Travel


If you are traveling with small children or infants you will need to employ some different tactics. Many airlines offer bassinets which clip on the bulk head wall and are great for young children to sleep in on long flights.  Advice the booking agent of your child’s age and ask if one of these seats is available as soon as you ticket your flight. Children under the age of 15 are not allowed in exit rows and if you reserve one of the seats with children you will be asked to relocate. 

If you are traveling with two children on a jumbo jet try to book all aisle seats.  If you are in a 747 or a 777 and anyone is assigned the middle seats between you and your children, believe me they will try to get as far away from you as possible.  Worst case scenario, let the people in the middle have the aisle seats; give your kids the middle seats.  Best case scenario, a lot of extra room.

Wear Loose Layered Clothing


The air pressure inside most airline cabins is much lower than at sea level and this causes our bodies to swell up.  Wear comfortable stretch clothing, nothing that requires a belt. The most swelling occurs in the feet, so wear some loose shoes, better yet bring a small pair of hotel slippers with you on the plane and wear them for the duration of the flight. Bring a loose fitting sweater or sweat shirt as you can never be certain what temperature the cabin will be set at or when.


Buy a neck Pillow!


The stuffed ones in airport gift shops and travel novelty stores are better than the air filled ones. If you are sitting next to a window you can use it to provide a comfortable cushion for sleeping and they are great to put in the small of the back for additional lumbar support.  As a last resort you can use it to hold your neck straight should you be placed in a middle seat.

Elevate your Feet


Do you have a bad back or are your legs too short? This tip might help on the next flight.  Bring a sturdy carry on bag that can fit under the seat in front of you.  After take off you may pull out the bag and rest your feet on the bag.  Elevating your knees will relieve stress on the lower back.

Airline Meals


This web link will provide you with a wealth of information about what to expect for meals on the next flight you take.  If you decide nothing meets your particular tastes bring along some easy to consume items you enjoy eating. Remember many airlines including some international carriers, have begun charging for meals on flights. Bringing your own might not only suit your tastes better but save you some money.

Water and Alcohol


Jet aircraft cabin air is much drier than any other air you breathe, and your body will have trouble with the air as it becomes increasingly dehydrated. Never drink the water in airline restrooms; the water supply on airlines is constantly refilled in different countries with different standards of cleanliness. Bring a couple of bottles of water with you in your carry on bags. This will save you money on discount airlines that will gladly sell you water at inflated prices, and will save you the hassle of finding a flight attendant on regularly scheduled airlines.

Coffee or alcohol will dehydrate you even more than the airlines air: if you choose to indulge drink even more water than usual.

Coach Class Syndrome


This has become a hot button issue lately with the several lawsuits being pursued for “coach class syndrome”.  Although rare the most serious issue today is Deep Vain Thrombosis (DVT) a disorder that seems to occur on extended flights from being confined to a cramped coach class seat. DVT causes clots to form in the legs and may have tragic results although most times the syndrome does occur the clots break up without any effect after landing.

To avoid DVT the foundation for physical therapy has suggested these exercises on long flights.  If you find yourself in cramped quarters you should at the very least get up and walk around the cabin once an hour.  Other suggestions include wearing compression stockings that apply maximum pressure at the lower leg area, and in seat yoga exercises.


This is really a condition you do not have to deal with on the flight, but following the sleep suggestions can lessen the long term effects if you follow the helpful hints offered at this website.

Arrive at Airport Early

Time spent at the airport seems to fly by, relax and enjoy the experience. With the extra time you may be able to change your seats to some of the best available on the plane. If you are traveling on a discount carrier you will have best selection of seats or a preferred boarding time.  The post 911 period has left long lines at security and not being in a rush is much less stressful. 

Board the Plane Late!


I Know I just told you to arrive at the airport early; why board the plane late. Well quite frankly under most circumstances you would not do this but sometimes it works to your advantage.  If you have a lot of carry on luggage and premium seats do not do this!

If you have been assigned bad seats on a long flight and you do not have much carry on luggage try this:

Wait in the boarding area until it clears, but don’t wait too long.  When you note all the other passengers are boarding, get in the end of the line.  If someone else follows behind you, offer to let them in front. Walk past your assigned seat to the back of the aircraft and look for a vacant row.  Sit down in it and hope no one arrives late.  The worst that could happen is you have to go back to the bad assigned seat.  The best scenario is you have a sleeper seat to London, Sydney or whatever exotic destination your may be headed. Never sit down in a first or business class seat as the flight attendants are acutely aware of who is assigned to which seats and you will be asked to move. 


We hope these tips help on your next flight and if you have any additional tips please do not hesitate to share them with us.  Have a nice flight!



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