The Best Place To Sit On Short-Haul Flights

Short-haul flying

So… you’re finally getting ready to book your flights and set off on your adventure – great! Better yet you are booking with one of those airlines that let you choose where to sit! So where is the best place to sit on the plane for your short-haul flight?

To be honest, it’s not something many travellers bother to think about, especially short-haul domestic travel type flights. But others find it an almost-impossible decision to make.

So if you’re struggling with the options, I’ve put together a few of my tips to help you make the best decision for your travels.

But just before we get into properly, I should probably define what I classify as a short-haul flight.

For me, as do a lot of other people, define a short-haul flight as anything with a flight time of less than 4 hours.

Be that a domestic or international flight, 4 hours is the cut off for a short-haul flight. Basically, if you can more than two full movies, you’re on a long-haul flight.

Although it isn’t always the case, these flights usually happen during reasonable hours of the day. So it’s unlikely you would be looking to get any mid-flight sleep or have several meals during the flight.

So now I’ve cleared that up, onto my tips:

Emergency Exit Rows

Depending on the airline, there is probably an additional charge if you’re wanting to sit in the emergency exit row. But despite the extra spend, you’ll be given a little bit more of that precious legroom to make the flight a little easier.

If you consider yourself particularly tall (like myself) or just hate being stuffed into an ordinary airline seat, particularly on the cut-price airlines, then this might be a good choice for you.

Just make sure to research your airline of choice and find out their policy on booking the emergency exit row.

But is it really worth it for a short-haul flight? Yes, and no.

If you’re only up in the air for just a couple hours, spending the extra money doesn’t really seem worth it. So this is my little tip:

In my experience, if there is an additional fee for booking the exit row, there is a very good possibility that no one ends up booking those seats before the flight. Particularly on quick intercity flights.

However, for safety reasons, the exit seats must be occupied by someone willing and able to operate the exit in the event of an emergency. If you ask nicely when you check-in you might stand a chance of being upgraded.

It doesn’t always pay off, but it’s definitely worth a try! Check out the rest of my tips to help you sneak an upgrade the next time you fly.

Sit at the Front

If I’m planning a short trip where I’ll only be bringing carry-on luggage with me. Then I will tend to want to sit well towards the front of the plane.

Why? Firstly, if it’s busy they tend to board the back of the plane first so you’ll normally the last to have to be seated, and then you’re nearly always the first off, too.

Although this doesn’t make a world of difference on smaller planes, the five to ten minutes saved isn’t exactly going to make or break your day, if you’re not the type to want to hang around, it means you can grab your bag and make your way straight to the exit, beat the queues and head straight to your taxi, uber or other transfer.

As an added bonus, food and drink service usually starts at the front of the plane as well. So you’ll be one of the first-served first as well and definitely have both options to choose from.

Window seats make for great photo ops
Window seats make for great photo ops

Window or Aisle Seat?

There are two distinctly different trains of thought here. Both the window and the aisle seats have their pros and cons. But absolutely nobody wants the middle seat!

If you are travelling with carry on only luggage and you want get moving as quickly as possible once you arrive, then the aisle seat will be your best option.

This methodology is often taken by the business travellers doing a day trip, but something you can implement yourself. It does give the added benefit of being able to stretch out into the aisle for the extra leg room. But you also likely to be bumped by everyone (and the drinks cart) then they go past you.

On the flip side. If you are a curious creature, and fair to say if you are traveling you probably are, then the window seat might be a better option.

Obviously the window allows you to see out over the world while your travelling at 30,000ft which is a drawcard.

But on short-haul flights, in particular, its also less likely that you’ll need to get up disturb other passengers, (bathrooms trips, stretching legs, swapping items from my overhead carry-on bag etc) or better yet be disturbed by other passengers. And if you need a nap you can lean up against the side of the plane.

That said the real drawback is that you really are at the mercy of the other passengers in your row when it is time to get up, be that to use the bathroom or even just to disembark once you arrive at your destination.

Pro Tip: If picking the window seat on a early morning or evening flight I’ll work out which side will allow me to see the sunrise/sunset. Not something most people consider, but as a photographer it allows me to come up with some cool photos.

These tips should make your next short-haul flight experience much better. If you’d like some other tips, I’ve also got posts on long-haul flying and how to get your seat upgraded the next time you fly.

Feel free to share this post with your friends and if you’d like some more general travel tips, head on over to my travel tips page for plenty more advice.

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And if you have a travel related question you would like me to answer, head on over to my contact page to get in touch and let me know.

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About the Author: Rhys Vandersyde

Traveller, Photographer, Content Creator. I've spent the last 10 years exploring all over the world, but there is still plenty more to see. Find out more about me at vandersyde.com.au

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