The Seat Selection Guide 1

Please fasten your seat belts for my first guide to seat selection.
Qantas 737-800 in a retro livery

Did you know, most passengers don't even bother to check-in online and just take whichever seat the airline has to offer?
Often those seats are the left-overs from the travel savvies who reserve their seats on the day prior to travel. You wouldn't eat leftover food from restaurants, so why should you sit in leftover seats?

As we all know and love, not all seats are created equal and even in the same class, some seats are more equal than the others, so in this guide, I will give you a few tips on seat selection for the typical narrow-body airliner.

Seat selection isn't really eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
There are multiple variables that need to be considered when you choose your ideal seat, and each might have a different level of priority depending on your circumstances, and today I will talk about the seat selection of the 737-800 in a two-class set up. (Economy/Business).

Important factors to consider - Amount of turbulence, Distance from the restrooms, Distance from the engine(s), Order of boarding/disembarking, Order of service, Exit row/bulkhead (Y/N)

There will always be trade-offs between comfort and efficiency so I will only give you the ideal balance, and it is solely up to the traveller to judge in each scenario. A good tool to use is the SeatGuru website where you will be able to see the full layout of the amenities and seat-map of your particular flight.


Turbulence is always a nightmare for the majority of travellers except some (*cough* Rollercoaster Fanatics *cough*) if comfort is the main priority, then it's best to stay as far as possible from the rear of the plane.
If you want the most stable flight, always choose seats closer to the front of the aircraft or near the wings. (Business/Front half of Economy).

Noise Pollution

If you don't want to listen to the gushing sound of toilet flushes or the personal sound effects your fellow passengers might make in the toilet, try to avoid 1st-row business class seats at all costs!
Seat 3A/3F

In economy class, by sitting anywhere between row 4 and 12, you're in the noise friendly zone away from the worst of the engine noise.
Avoid the very back row as the exhaust hum can be quite annoying when the plane is stationary.
Aisle seats are generally quieter than window seats however you lose the great view from above so that's one trade-off you have to make.

Order of Boarding/Disembarking

If you're in a rush, then always make sure you choose the appropriate seats according to the order of Boarding/Disembarking.

Boarding is generally quite simple, business class passengers will board first, followed by the passengers from the back rows to the front.

Disembarking is more complicated as there could be no physical gate allocated for arrival.
In an arrival gate, the disembarking order is from the front to the rear.
In the event in which no arrival gate is allocated, the rear portside door with stairs will most likely be used in conjunction to the front door, the passengers in the rear will disembark at the same time as the business class passengers.

Order of Service

Order of service is a must if you love airline food! You don't want to be the last one served so you're left with no other options!

Depending on the flight this can differ, but usually, flight attendants begin the meal service starting from the front of the aircraft to the back, so it is advised for you to sit closer to the front of the aircraft to be served promptly with all of the options available.

Last but not least, The famous exit rows and bulkheads

Exit rows are usually preferred by passengers as they almost always offer a few more inches of leg room. P.S The rows in front of the Exit rows are non-reclinable seats to avoid interference in the event of an emergency!
In the typical 737 cabins, the exit row/bulkheads are on the rows 4, 13 and 14 where they offer extra legroom.

Exit rows also have their disadvantages so you might want to think twice before reserving.
  • Only adult passengers are allowed to sit in those seats so they're not exactly family friendly.
  • Up to the airline's discretion, it may cost a few extra pennies to secure those seats.
  • There can be a significant amount of noise pollution from the wind interacting with the door when the plane becomes airborne. 
To sum it up...

Just like anything else in life, there will always be tradeoffs between choices and decisions, choosing your seat is no exception. Always consider all the variables in each and every unique situation so you can hopefully reserve the most suitable seat for your next holiday!

Sometimes the last row seat gives you a photo opportunity like no other!


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