8 ways to get the best airline seat

Make sure you snag the perfect seat for your next flight.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

Let’s face it. No one wants to be stuck in the middle seat, in the middle row, near the toilets.

From getting a bit of extra legroom to sitting far away from crying babies, here are eight handy tips that can help make your next flight a lot more comfortable.

1. Always check the seat map.

Depending on the model and layout of the plane you’re flying, what you think is an aisle seat might end up being squeezed between two passengers. And on planes that narrow toward the back, the letters allocated to each seat may change. It’s a good idea to check the seat map carefully when choosing your seat to avoid disappointment.

2. Check your plane on SeatGuru

Like TripAdvisor for airplane seats, SeatGuru offers reviews of seats on most major airlines. It provides seat maps (such as the one pictured below) and you can hover over each allocated seat and read notes about them. The site will usually note things like extra legroom and proximity to the bathrooms.

Images: SeatGuru

3. See if there's an app for that.

There are a few apps out there that can help you trade or swap with other passengers to get better seats. Others can alert you when seats have become available on your flight.

  • Although only available for U.S. users at the moment, Seateroo lets you swap seats with other passengers on your flight for a negotiated price of $5 or more. The app charges a 15% fee (at the seller’s expense).
  • Set up alerts on SeatAlerts by Expert Flyer and you can find out when a preferred seat becomes available on your upcoming flight. You’ll then be able to change your allocated seat to the one you prefer.

4. Get discounted seat upgrades, guaranteed empty seats next to you.

Working with select airlines, Optiontown allows passengers who have already booked their tickets to pay as little as a quarter of the regular price for extra baggage or a seat upgrade. It also offers an option if you want to pay to have an empty seat next to you.

You just need to enter your airline, reservation number and name to see what options are available. If you choose to book one, you’ll get confirmation before you take off. If you can’t get your upgrade, you’ll get your money (minus an admin fee) back.

5. Suck it up and pay to choose your seat, and be ready to cough up for the extra legroom.

Sometimes the nominal fee for a few inches of extra legroom can be worth it – especially if you’re tall or are on a long-haul flight. For longer flights, Jetstar charges $47 each way, Virgin Australia charges $50 each way and Qantas charges $60 each way.

6. Make the most of your online check-in window.

If you don’t want to pay for the privilege of a good seat, it’s a good idea to make note of when your flight’s online check-in opens. The earlier you check in for your flight, the sooner you’ll have your assigned seat.

7. See if there’s a designated quiet area

Budget airline competitors Scoot and AirAsia X both offer a separate, child-free section. This option is ideal for those trying to catch some sleep without having to worry about being seated next to a crying infant.

  • ScootinSilence, which is located in rows 21 to 25, offers more than just quiet seating for those aged 12 and older. Passengers will also be sitting closer to the front of the plane and a 35” seat pitch (four inches more than a standard economy seat). The airline charges $39 (up from the standard $12) to sit in this area.
  • AirAsia X’s Quiet Zone is available for passengers aged 10 and older. It’s located just after the Premium Flatbed cabin from ros 7-14 and offers minimal noise, soft lighting and faster meal delivery. AirAsia X charges a fee for this option based on your flight, with prices for standard seats staring from MYR69 (around AUD$23).

PlaneWomanSleeping

8. Try just being nice.

It could be worth asking politely at check-in and again at the gate whether there are any better seats available, or if there are spots still available in the exit row. While it’s unlikely you’ll get an upgrade to first class, it’s certainly worth a try.


Great tips, but where should I sit on the plane?

Believe it or not, each part of the plane does have its benefits. Depending on what your personal needs are when you're flying, here are a few things you might want to consider.

For peace and quiet: Choose a seat in a quiet zone

As noted above, some airlines let you pay extra to sit in a designated quiet zone. It’s ideal if you’re hoping to sleep during the flight.

For less turbulence: Choose a seat over the wing.

If you’re worried about a turbulent flight, sitting above a wing tends to reduce the amount of movement you feel.

For a short connection or a quicker exit: Choose a seat close to the front door.

Not all flights will disembark using both the front and rear doors. So if you need to get off the plane quicker, choose a seat toward the front of the plane, or as close to it as your ticket class will allow.

For more space: Choose a seat near the back of the plane.

If a roomier flight is your main priority, choose a seat toward the back. Flights tend to fill up from front to back, so selecting a set at the back gives you a higher chance of having an empty seat next to you – or a whole row if you’re really lucky.


Now that you know how to pick the perfect seat for your next flight, it's time to book:

Deal

Worldwide flights from $109 each way with Jetstar

Verified Today Expires 28 Jan 2022
Available for travel from 4 February – 15 September 2022 to destinations including Bali, Phuket, Auckland, Tokyo, Honolulu and more. Sample price is Cairns-Bali.
Deal

Flights with Jetstar from $29 each way

Verified Today Expires 28 Jan 2022
Available for travel from April - November 2022 to destinations including Sydney, Perth, Cairns, Uluru, Brisbane and more. Sample fare is Adelaide-Melbourne.
Deal

Up to 50% off flights across Australia

Verified Yesterday Expires 4 Feb 2022
Available for travel until 28 February 2022. Destinations include Adelaide, Melbourne, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Perth and more.
Deal

Up to 50% off: Australia flights from $32 with Jetstar

Verified 5 days ago Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on flights from 1 December 2021 – 28 February 2022. Destinations include Sydney, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Hobart and more. Sample fare is Adelaide–Melbourne.
Deal

Australia-wide flights from $41 each way

Verified 5 days ago Expires 26 Jan 2022
Available on select flight dates until 15 June 2022. Destinations include Sunshine Coast, Hobart, Sydney and more. Sample fare is Adelaide-Melbourne with Jetstar.
Deal

Up to 50% off Qantas flights

Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on flights until 28 February 2022 to destinations including Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Hobart, Adelaide, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Darwin, Broome and more.
Deal

Australia-wide flights from $59 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available from November 2021 – September 2022 to destinations including Cairns, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Darwin and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Ballina and Sydney-Coffs Harbour. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Global flights from $1,099 return

Verified 5 days ago Expires 28 Jan 2022
Available on flights until 31 August 2022. Destinations include London, Paris, Abu Dhabi and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Dubai. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Up to 50% off Rex Airlines flights

Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on flights until 28 February 2022 to Gold Coast, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and more.
Deal

Domestic flights from $32 each way

Expires 25 Jan 2022
Available on flights until March 2022 to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Gold Coast with Rex Airlines.
Deal

Flights to Melbourne from $54 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available on flights from January - May 2022, including during Australian Open. Sample fare is Sydney-Avalon with Jetstar. Other flights depart from Adelaide and more.
Deal

International flights from $130 each way

Verified Today Expires 28 Jan 2022
Available on Jetstar flights from 7 April – 29 July 2022. Sample fare is Adelaide-Bali. Destinations include New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Vietnam and more. T&Cs apply.
Deal

South Africa flights from $1,208 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available on flights from January – March 2022. Destinations include Cape Town, Durban and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Johannesburg with Qatar Airways.
Deal

New Zealand flights from $319 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available on flights until May 2022 to Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Auckland with Jetstar.
Deal

Sydney flights from $67 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available on select travel dates until May 2022. Sample flight departs from Ballina with Jetstar.
Deal

International flights from $1,854 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available on select travel dates until 31 December 2022. Destinations include Dubai, London, Dublin and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Abu Dhabi. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Canada flights from $1,682 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available for flights on select dates in March 2022. Sample fare departs from Melbourne to Vancouver with Air Canada. Destinations include Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, Calgary and more.
Deal

New Zealand flights from $312 each way

Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on select travel dates to Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and more. Sample fare is Brisbane–Christchurch. Tickets must be purchased 28 days prior to flight date. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Canada flights from GBP£332 return

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Plus get free date change on select flights in 2022. Destinations include Vancouver, Montreal and more. Sample fare is London-Toronto. T&Cs apply.
Code

Up to 10% off flights + extra checked baggage

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available on flights until 30 June 2022 exclusive for students. Destinations include Dublin, Paris, Ireland, Abu Dhabi and more. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Flights to Cuba from $1,121 return

Expires 28 Jan 2022
Available on select travel dates. Sample fare is Sydney-Havana. Other flights depart from Hobart, Melbourne and more.
Deal

Cuba flights from $1,968 return

Expires 28 Jan 2022
Available on flights from February – May 2022. Sample fare is Sydney-Havana. Other destinations include Varadero, Santa Clara and more.
Deal

International flights from $505 return

Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on flights from 22 January – 23 September 2022. Destinations include Bali, Fiji and New Zealand. Sample fare is Brisbane-Nadi. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Sunshine Coast flights from $89 each way

Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on Qantas flights until 28 February 2022. Sample fare departs from Sydney. Other flights depart from Melbourne and Canberra. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Europe flights from $1,604 return

Expires 26 Jan 2022
Available on select flight dates in 2022. Destinations include United Kingdom, Netherlands, Ireland, France, Greece and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Dublin.
Deal

Flights to Europe from $1,132 return

Expires 25 Jan 2022
Available on flights from February – August 2022 to London, Paris, Rome, Athens and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Istanbul with Etihad Airways.
Deal

New Zealand flights from $322 return

Expires 25 Jan 2022
Available on flights from March – July 2022 to Queenstown, Christchurch and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Auckland with Jetstar.
Deal

Flights to Fiji from $308 return

Expires 25 Jan 2022
Available on select travel dates until June 2022. Sample fare is Sydney-Nadi with Jetstar.
Deal

Get a EUR€20 voucher for your next trip

Subscribe your email address to Kiwi.com's newsletter and receive a EUR€20 voucher for your next trip.
Deal

Sydney flights from $59 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available for travel from January – June 2022 departing from Coffs Harbour, Gold Coast and more. Sample fare departs from Ballina. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Melbourne flights from $69 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available on select flight dates from January – June 2022. Sample fare departs from Launceston. Other flights depart from Newcastle and more. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Perth flights from $179 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available on select flight dates until September 2022. Sample fare departs from Adelaide. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Hobart flights from $79 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available on select dates from 20 January – 12 June 2022. Sample fare departs from Melbourne.
Deal

Gold Coast flights from $85 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available on flights from January – June 2022 departing from Melbourne and more. Sample fare departs from Sydney.
Deal

Cairns flights from $105 each way

Expires 15 Feb 2022
Available on select flight dates June 2022. Sample flight departs from Brisbane. Other flights depart from Sydney, Gold Coast and more.
Deal

FlyPelican flights from $92 each way

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available for travel from 24 December 2021 – 30 June 2022. Destinations include Port Macquarie, Ballina and more. Sample fare is Newcastle-Sunshine Coast. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Singapore flights from $674 return

Expires 25 Jan 2022
Available on flight from 22 April – 31 May 2022. Sample fare departs from Perth with Singapore Airlines. Other flights depart from Brisbane, Sydney and more.
Code

Up to $35 off flight fees

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Available select dates and on bookings for up to 7 passengers. T&Cs apply
Code

Get $10 off flight booking fees

Expires 31 Jan 2022
Discount applies for up to 2 passengers when you use the code. T&Cs apply
Deal

Flights to Hong Kong from $1,065 return

Expires 28 Feb 2022
Available on Cathay Pacific flights until 28 February 2022. Sample fare is Perth-Hong Kong. Other flights depart from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and more.

Feature image: Etihad


Follow us for all the latest deals and coupon codes

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JohnJanuary 30, 2018

    Emirates has 3 tiers of economy fares, Saver,Flex and Flexplus. The website shows the benefits / services provided for each tier. For example, baggage allowance, miles earned and miles required to obtain an upgrade. However it does not say whether the higher tiered (more expensive) fare gives one a better chance of obtaining miles / points upgrade.
    Does a Flexplus fare improve chances of getting a point/ miles upgrade to business class?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JudithFebruary 2, 2018Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder. I hope all is good on your end.

      Yes, there is an advantage because you need fewer Miles to upgrade a Flex Plus fare compared to a Saver fare. Flex Plus fares in Economy Class and Business Class can be upgraded at any time before departure based on availability whereas special fares (their most affordable fares) are not eligible for upgrades. Economy Class Saver fares can be only be upgraded within 48 hours prior to departure (before online check-in).

      Please do note that tickets eligible for upgrades cannot be upgraded later than six hours before departure. You may also review the Fare Conditions and applicable restrictions at the time of booking.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Judith

Go to site