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Airline Seat Selection Tips:

How to Get the Best Economy Seats

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Whether you fly a lot or barely fly at all, I don’t know about you, but airline seat selection and the seat I choose (and or get) is extremely important to me for many reasons. I don't like having to sit in a middle seat or a window seat, especially on long flight. I want to make sure I have as much leg room as possible for an economy ticket and that generally means selecting an aisle seat.

Now, I don’t care so much about my airline seat selection on a short flight that's under 90 minutes, but any flight longer than an hour-and-a-half, then I definitely want to make sure I get an aisle seat or a seat with that extra leg room or space. Obviously if you’re flying First Class or Business Class, you already have a great seat, but if you’re like the rest of us who’ve purchased a Coach or Economy ticket, seat selection is very important especially on long coast-to-coast flights and international flights. Also, if you're on a long flight, you may want to load your mp3 player with a great audio book. I get great deals at Audible.com and you can try Audible now and get a FREE audiobook! And if you don't have a pair of noise canceling head phones to listen to your audio books, they're a definite must for any flight. Magellan's has some compact Folding Noise-Canceling Headphones from Able Planet that utilize Linx Audio technology to deliver superb sound quality and provide your own personal sanctuary from airline noise and other disturbances. They also have an in-line volume control and comfortable over-the-ear fit.

Audio Books at Audible.com

Now that you have everything you need for a comfortable flight, it's time to get down to the actual seat selection. Courtesy of Seat Guru, we have a great link to aircraft seat maps where you can get:

• Detailed seat map graphics
• In-depth information about seats with limited recline,
reduced legroom, and misaligned windows
• Color-coding to help identify superior and substandard seats
• In-seat power port locations
• Galley, lavatory, exit row, and closet locations

Seat Guru has their best picks for seats on an aircraft color-coded in green and if you book your flight well in advance and these seats are available, make sure you chose these seats during your seat selection process. There are many great websites to book your airfare. Priceline has lower hotel booking fees and now lets you select your exact Hotel. What you may not know is that a recent independent survey by Topaz International found that Expedia had the best price just 6% of the time and Travelocity had the best price about 28% of the time when booking travel online.

How to Find the “Secret Seats” on a Flight
Now the next time you book a flight, you need to know about something travel expert, Peter Greenberg, refers to as “Secret Seats.” These are the best economy section seats on an airplane that offer you extra legroom, extra tray space, no reclining seats in front of you, and nice little extras that airlines aren’t charging for….yet.

Here are a few examples: Cathay Pacific 747's have seats 66K , 67K or 68K and 66A and 67A or 67K as great “secret seats” in the economy section On this aircraft, these seats are the last rows of seats on each side of the plane and are only two across which translates to extra leg room and if you’re a pinch claustrophobic with window or middle seats, these seats are great. Only drawback is they can be noisy though as the lavatories are located right behind you. American Airlines 767's have seats 17H and 17J as the best secret seats, according to Peter because on international flights, these seats are reserved only for the crew, but on domestic flights, anyone can sit in these special seats, each with extra leg room and a better recline. American Airlines 757's have seats 10F and 10A. These are not just any window seats. There is no seat 9A and no seat 9F which means extra legroom for you.

Marianne’s “Secret Seats” on Southwest Airlines 737. Whenever I fly Southwest Airlines 737s , my favorite domestic airline, I have my favorite “secret seats.” Now if you’ve never flown Southwest before and you’re not familiar with their boarding policies, understand that you cannot reserve seats in advance. What I always do is check in online exactly 24 hours in advance of my flight and I generally end up in the first boarding group and then I can chose my “secret seat” and my sweet spot on the Southwest 737 is in an exit row. My secret seat is 11E because there is no seat on my right (where the window seat usually is) and if you have business to do with your laptop, you get an extra tray table in the back of seat 10F. Also, row 10 does not recline since it borders the exit row so you don’t have your immediate space being intruded upon by a reclining chair. The second “secret seat” on this aircraft would be 12F since there is no 11F and if you’re really tall, you can really get extra legroom. In general, I also love Southwest as their 737’s have generous legroom in every aisle (as compared to most other airlines that now see this as a revenue center and are charging extra for it.)

Airline and Seat Comparison Charts
Now, Seat Guru has put together some great airline and seat comparison charts so whether you’re booking your ticket online or you’re going through a travel agent, you can review these charts while you’re booking your flight to make sure you’re getting the best seat on the plane when you can (for no extra charges). Remember to look for the “Green” seats.

Short-Haul Economy Class
Short-Haul First/Business Class
Long-Haul Economy Class
Premium Economy Class
Long-Haul Business Class
Long-Haul First Class

So the next time you book a flight, make sure you choose your "secret seat" that only travel insiders know about -- but now you do, too.

So the next time you book a flight, make sure you choose your "secret seat" that only travel insiders know about -- but now you do, too.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more