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Picking an Airline Seat, In Brief
November 15, 1994 -- Choosing a comfortable airline seat doesn't depend on blind luck. Chances are you'll get exactly the seat you desire if you select your seat and get your boarding pass at the same time you purchase your ticket.
Travel agents and airline reservation clerks usually have the aircraft's seating chart about 30 days before departure. Seating configurations change depending on the airline and aircraft, but here are some other useful tips.
1. Airlines often reserve aisle seats in front rows for their most frequent customers. If you want to move up from your pre-assigned seat, check with the gate agent just before boarding.
2. In order to keep exits clear in case of an emergency, seats in the rows just ahead of an emergency exit do not fully recline.
3. Seats in rows with emergency exits offer extra legroom because federal regulations mandate the additional space. But exit-row seats are the coldest and children cannot sit in exit rows. Passengers in these seats must be willing and able to perform specific duties in case of an emergency.
4. Seats in bulkhead rows--those are located directly behind lavatories or galleys--also offer extra comfort because there's no seat in front of you to recline into your lap. But no seat in front of you means no seat under which to stow carry-on luggage.
5. If you are a nervous flyer, keep in mind that statistics show the safest seats on most airplanes are in the back third of the aircraft.
6. On widebody jets--that's an aircraft with more than one aisle--seats in the center rows at the rear of the plane are usually the last ones chosen. That means you may end up with a row all to yourself--if the flight isn't crowded.
7. If two of you want to sit next each other, but neither of you want the middle seat, book the window and aisle seats. If the plane isn't crowded, the airline won't assign the middle seat to another traveler. Alternately, choose seats across the aisle from each other. It's not cozy, but you'll be together, and you'll both be comfortable.
This column originally appeared in Travel Holiday magazine.
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