Aside from online resources, travelers can follow some basic rules to find the best seat on a plane as conditions change. There are some good resources on the net, most notably SeatGuru, but if you don’t have the time to check it, or get bumped from your flight, follow these tips to become your own seat guru.

Some of these suggestions may not make sense in your particular situation, and everyone has their personal preferences. Many times though, we’re asked what seat we want without considering some of these factors.

  • Sit As Far In Front As You Can In Smaller Planes and Shorter Flights – On smaller “shuttle” flights sitting in the front means you can on and off the plane faster. On a larger plane, sitting in the front doesn’t make as much of a difference as the procedures to get the cabin door take longer. You’ll also have more room and likely a single row seat, not to mention you can give the flight attendant your carry on and have them store it in their personal closet.
  • Sit In Near The Bathrooms On Jumbo Jets – Yes, peeing will be easier, but this is where the flight attendants also keep all of the water, juice, and snacks. Also, you can sit in the door seat if your wife the passenger you’re sitting next to is annoying.
  • Losing Time? Cozy Up Next To The Window – If you’ll be flying over several time zones and losing house (going east), then choose a window seat. Your body’s natural rhythm will have you tired and ready to sleep, and next to the window you’ll have somewhere to prop up your pillow.
    • Going west? Choose an aisle seat since you’re circadian rhythms will likely have your digestive system in action, causing you to pee/poop more.
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  • Find an Aisle Seat In Between Bathrooms If You’ll Be Ordering A Specialized Meal – Kosher, vegetarian, etc. meals are served before everyone else’s giving your stomach and bladder a head start on the competition. Beat the after-meal rush to the bathroom and hopefully as you walk back the people sitting by the window will want to get up. Sitting in between two sets of bathrooms will guarantee you get to the crapper.
  • Fearful Fliers Sit In The Middle Rows – The center of the plane and the middle rows are where you’ll find the least amount of vibrations and noise. Plus, you won’t be able to see how high up you are out of the window, reducing your anxiety.
  • If You’ll Be Flying At Non-Peak Times Or Dates, Choose An Aisle Seat In The Back – When the flight is half-full the flight crew will often let passengers move and spread out across the plane. If you’re sitting in the aisle in the back, the chances that someone will want to step over you to get to the window seat are extremely small. That way you can stretch your legs and sleep. This usually only happens on smaller planes.
  • Plan Your Aisle Near The Bathroom Seat If You’ll Be On Your Period, Lactose Intolerant, Or Generally “Gassy” – Ladies, if your flight dates will be around the time you usually have your period, plan accordingly. Lactose intolerance folk can order a lactose-free or vegan meal to avoid getting some surprise dairy in your meal. In case you don’t, be careful – loads of airplane food contains some from of milk product. Like the gassy people, be considerate and keep your stinky farts confined to the bathroom.
  • Feeling flirty? Sit by the window – It’s easy to engage people if you’re sitting by the window, and you can make small talk as you ask the aisle person to scoot over when you have to get up. Now, getting a hottie to sit next to you is another story.
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Remember that you can specify where on the flight you want to sit, as well as the seat. Get to the flight desk as soon as you can if you have any last minute changes, be nice, and smile and the airline can usually accommodate your request. If not, don’t hesitate to ask a fellow passenger to switch with you once you get on the plane and sum up why. They are called the “friendly” skies, right?