Get The Best Seat

Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:15am

Travel experts offer tips for finding the best seat on the plane.

With the busy holiday travel season in high gear, the rush is on at airports everywhere.

Planes are usually packed.

So what's the best seat on board?

And how do you make sure you get it?

"When it comes to finding that perfect sear on a plane, you don't want to be stuck in certain areas where you're close to the lavatory for example," says's Rick Seaney.

Most travelers agree: The closer to the front, the better.

"If you're on a 737 at the back of the plane, it could be an additional 15 minutes getting off a plane while everybody's unboarding a plane, it can be a long time. It can seem like forever," Seaney says.

"We like to take the emergency rows. That's the first thing we book because actually the legroom sometimes in that emergency row can be more than you'll find in first class," adds's Tom Parson.

But getting the seat you want and being first in line can be a challenge.

The secret can be knowing the different rules.

Southwest, for example, offers to put you in the first boarding group, for a fee.

"So if you get your boarding pass and it's not in the "A" group, I'd say you may want to pay the 10 bucks so you can walk on the plane and find the seat you want without staying in line. Now if I've got the A group, there's no reason for me to pay the 10 bucks," Parson explains.

Even then, the seats aren't assigned.

On Southwest, the first passengers on board get to pick their own.

"Would you rather get an assigned middle seat between two people? You have no clue who they are, or peer over everybody, even if there are only middle seats, and find the two skinny people so you can sit in the middle," says Seaney.

American and other airlines offer passengers a chance to change their seats online.

Here, the key is going online as soon as you can get your boarding pass.

"I always tell everybody, you need to get your seat 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds before, if you don't have elite status," says Seaney. "That way you're insured to be in the first boarding group. It's not only about the seat. It's about having a sea of empty bins when you get on the plane."

Experts point out even those passengers who do everything right still aren't guaranteed that perfect seat.

Somebody's gotta sit in the middle.

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