• Menu

How to choose airplane seats? A Practical Guide

What seat suits you best? How to get it? Here we help you clear your doubts.

We are going to fly, what a thrill, to go from one city to another, from one country to another, to change continents. The possibilities are infinite. The duration of the flights can be long or short, but the seat where we sit will play an essential role in our comfort (or discomfort) during those, perhaps long, hours. In this article we are going to take a tour of the different types of seats that you can find and we will explain how to choose the seats that suit you best on the airplane.

Note: for this article we are going to focus only on how to choose airplane seats in economy class.

Different planes, different seats configurations

How to choose airplane seats? know the types of seats that exist

The seat that we are in during a plane trip can be decisive in whether we enjoy the flight or suffer it. We are going to take a tour of the different seat positions that can be had on a medium and long-range flight. Here we will leave out the small airplanes with a 2 – 2 configuration, that is, a window seat and an aisle seat on both sides of the corridor.

Note: when we talk about seat configuration on an airplane and they are called by numbers, for example 2 – 3, 3 – 3, 3 – 4 – 3, it should be read as the number of adjacent seats and the hyphen is a corridor separating the seats.


It is the favorite of many. The one with the window has a view of the landscape, of the clouds, it gives you the possibility of turning around and no longer seeing anyone. The downside is that to get up you have to bother the people next to you.

View from the window


If you want to have immediate access to stand up, this is the ideal seat. If you are one of those who go to the bathroom every so often, this will be the seat that will be your preference. The drawback of this seat is that when they go by with the food cart, if you are not well inserted in your seat, they will hit you. In the same way, when people pass by, you can get bumped.

Corridor, watch out for carts


That seat is the one nobody wants. And rightly so. You’re like ham in a sandwich, with all the drawbacks of seats (except getting hit in the aisle) with none of the benefits. You don’t have the view from the window, you can’t get up instantly, and you don’t have anywhere to turn to seek a little privacy.

Who wants to sit in the middle? I think no one

On long range aircraft there will also be a section of three or four seats in the middle of the plane. This section has two aisle seats and two (or one) middle seats. The disadvantages and advantages are translated here. Although there are people who have a preference or outright disregard for the seats in this middle section of the plane.

Get your flight at the best price

Now, this is the definition of the “seat type basis”, on that basis there are many variants that it is good to know to decide if they interest us:

Seating for only two

Medium and long-haul planes usually have 3 – 3 or 3 – 4 – 3 configurations. With this, those traveling in pairs always have to share the tiny space with someone else (usually a stranger). On some planes there are some sections where instead of three seats there are only two, these sections can be quite interesting for couples. Except when the whole column is of two and yes, there are still planes with columns of two but they are not seen much.

Seat at the emergency exit

These seats usually have much more legroom, the drawback is that they are next to the emergency exit door, with all the responsibilities that come with it. In addition, for security reasons you can’t leave the bag at your feet, everything must be put up in the overhead storage for takeoff and landing. Another drawback is that the screen of the entertainment system is more uncomfortable to use since it is not in front of us but next to it.

For families traveling with babies

When traveling with babies when booking a long flight, be sure to ask for seats with a crib. These are seats facing the “walls” that divide the sections of the plane. In these you can put a kind of mini cradle so the baby and the parents can travel more comfortable. The number of these seats is limited so request it as soon as the reservation is made.

How to choose airplane seats?

To be able to see the configuration, you have to find the “seat map” of the plane in which we will travel.

Get to know its settings

There are airlines that let you see the seat map when making the reservation, that is, before paying for the flight we can see if the seats we want are available (whether they come with extra fare or not, we will talk about this topic below). In other cases it will not be visible until after you have paid. In these cases, at least to get an idea of what type of plane it is, what you have to do is look for the plane model, which generally appears in the flight data. For example “A380”. That is copied and adding the name of the airline, the query is made in a search engine.

Exemple: seat map A330 KLM

Looking for our plane

There are sites dedicated to publishing all the seat maps of the different airlines. They even have marked the seats that are positioned as better or worse for the travelers. Some of the sites that will appear in the results are SeatGuru, SeatMaestro, among others. The one I use most often is SeatGuru and what the airline itself publishes, obviously.

Once we know the seat map of the plane we will fly with, we can visualize which seats will have our preference.

Following the example, this is the seat map (a part) of the plane we are looking for:

Seatmap A330 KLM

Here, you can already see for example that it is a plane with quite a few seating sections of two. For me perfect. I still can’t see what seats are available, but I can already get an idea of what there is.

Pay attention to the aircraft model

That is why we must pay attention to the aircraft model, especially on very long flights, in which we will fly. Even though it is well known that the airline can make changes of model at the last minute, most of the time it does not happen and for me it has been a decisive factor when deciding between two flights or airlines.

If I see that the configuration of a certain flight or airline is more suitable for the type of seat I am looking for, then I will prefer that flight. But of course, for this you have to be able to find the seat map, but with these simple steps that I’ve given you I’ve been able to do it almost every time.

To pay or not to pay?

This is a tricky subject. Seeing the example, the seats in the photo in yellow are in the emergency exit row, which means more legroom. Some airlines charge this extra. We always have to be clear how much we want (or need) a certain seat, to know how much we are willing to pay.

Tip: If you have frequent flyer status with an alliance, check if that gives you privileges with the alliance airlines to be able to choose free paid seats. Or at least to get a discount.

Personally, there have been situations in which I have paid for a seat, usually to have a seat for only two. Fortunately with the SkyTeam alliance airlines I have advantages in this respect due to my frequent flyer status.

Pay to choose

This topic bothers me a lot, sometimes it seems that the answer to how to choose airplane seats? is paying. I do not suffer this with SkyTeam airlines because of my FF status (frequent flyer) but I know that they do this practice too. I’m talking about the fact of having to pay, pay simply to choose a seat. We are not talking about a seat with some special privilege, nothing like that, an ordinary seat in economy class. Many say “if you want to choose, you have to pay”. Some, for example those of the SkyTeam alliance, also British Airways among others allow you to choose a seat without paying at the time of check-in.

But there are cases in which we are not allowed to choose a seat, even at check-in. This happened to me with Iberia, although it could have happened with any other that does this practice. They told me that due to the fare I chose, I was not allowed to choose a seat at any time if I did not pay. A very irritating moment that I am talking about here.

In short, the teaching of all this is that you have to read the conditions of the rate carefully when making a reservation. If you are not willing to accept this condition of not being able to choose a seat, then you have to book another flight or another fare.

What if we can’t avoid paying?

Take a deep breath. Face it, the airlines won this time. If you have had to pay for a seat that you needed, you better think about the advantage you are acquiring, and the comfort it will provide you. Although I know, sometimes this is minimal, and having to pay extra is annoying.


To know how to choose airplane seats, first we must be clear about the type of seat we want. Once this is defined, look at the aircraft models of the flights we are going to buy, look for the seat map of each one and evaluate which one suits us best. If the places have extra fare, let’s see how much we are willing to pay to have it. If they are free and available, bingo!

Have a happy plane ride everyone 🙂 

Before you go, tell us… What is your favorite seat?

Some of the links in this article include affiliate links. This means that if you buy a product listed here by following these links, we'll receive a commission. The use of this link does not increase the final price for you and thus helps us to keep our blog alive.

Olga Grijalva

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.