Followers of money expert Clark Howard knows that he loves to travel, but he doesn’t love having to spend a lot of money to do it.
When it comes to flying, getting from one place to another on the cheap often means not being able to select where you’re sitting in advance of the flight. So how does Clark make sure he gets a great seat on those long cross-country trips?
How to find the best available seat on any flight
“I fly on Southwest most of the time. There are no assigned seats, so it’s pretty random — as it should be,” Clark says.
“My first choice is an aisle seat in an exit row.”
Clark likes aisle seats because he enjoys getting up to stretch out every once in awhile and it makes trips to the restroom easier. Exit row seats on planes generally have extra legroom — the only caveat is that you have to be of a certain age (usually 14 or 15 or older) and able and willing to assist in the event of an emergency.
Clark says it’s almost always a mad rush to claim those exit row seats, so his next favorite option is an aisle seat toward the rear of the plane.
“Most people tend to like to sit toward the front of the cabin, so the further back you go the more likely you are to get a row where no one is sitting in the middle seat. That gives you a lot more room,” he says.
A little research can pay off when it comes to airplane seat selection
If you’re not flying Southwest, you may be able to select your seat ahead ahead of time. In any case, Clark recommends you use the site SeatGuru.com to get to know the layout of your plane and scout out the best options.
At SeatGuru, you simply enter your airline, flight number and date of travel.
The site will pull up a seat map for your flight and show you which seats are most desirable and which ones you should try to avoid.
In the example above, seats 26D&E and seat 27A would be the most comfortable, according to people who have flown on this aircraft before, while any seat in row 39 should be your last choice.
In this case, the desirable seats are in a exit row, while the ones in the last row are next to the lavatory, which could mean having people standing in the aisle next to you and possibly some unpleasant smells.
Some of the other seats have comments attached to them, while any “Standard seat” is going to be pretty much the same as all of the others.
Air travel can be a stressful experience, but with a little insider knowledge and pre-planning you can at least make sure your flight is as comfortable as possible. So, do your homework and the next time you take to the friendly skies you can fly knowing you got the best seat you could for your money!