We know not all seats are the same, so we put together a comprehensive guide of how to achieve business-class comfort an economy price.
By Annabel Fuller
Even towards the back of the plane, not all seats are equal. There are exit row seats, bulkheads seats and even seats that have no seat in front of them. During the GFC airlines began to monetise these meek luxuries making them all yours, for an unjustifiable fee. Suppose you don’t want to pay but enjoy the indulgence of blood freely flowing to your feet, there are still a few ways to achieve business-class comfort an economy price.
Seats towards the back of the bus are sold last. And there’s a reason for this. The back of the plane is both bumpier and nosier as you are seated behind the engines. On your standard twin-jet (3,3 configuration) all economy passengers troll in waves towards the rear toilets causing congestion in your aisle. The rear of the aircraft is also home to the clattery, high traffic, a galley that houses the inflight meals that you will have the last pick of due to your undesirable seat location. While these seats are certainly the wallflowers, they can have their perks. These seats are usually the first to board, ensuring your luggage a space in the highly competitive overhead bin. These seats are also the most likely to score an empty seat beside you.
The Silent Flyer
Newer aircraft such as the highly anticipated Dreamliner have quieter cabins. Yet, 13 hours in, the gentle roar of the engine can keep even the deepest sleepers awake. Generally, the pointy end of the plane is quietest. But for our economy budgets in front of the engines will be your best bet. The engines deflect noise backwards, and it’s said the aisles are quieter to than the window (that’s not during mealtime, however,) so your quietest bet is the middle seat – but nobody wants that. Bulkheads are where bassinets attach so steer clear. Unaccompanied minors (the loudest most excitable) are seated in the backrow of plane – avoid this non-reclinable row unless you want to become the inflight babysitter.
For those who find the roar of the engine a gentle lullaby over the wings provides the best songs. As for seat configurations, some find resting their heads against the window comforting while others prefer stretching their legs into the aisle. For the dreamer who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat please take the middle seat to save the misery of claustrophobia from a non-sleepy flyer.
Additional legroom or wide seats is the bulkhead conundrum. The bulkhead is perfect for minimalists as there is no seat or seatback pocket in front all carry-ons must be stowed in the overhead locker for take-off and landing. However, no seat in front means no pesky passengers reclining into your tiny oasis. The bulkhead often means pull-out video screen and armrest, tray tables that slightly reduce the seat width. But where the bulkhead shines is the few extra centimetres of legroom along with the large wall separating you and the 1%; where to the distaste of the flight crew you can slough down into your seat and angle your lanky legs against the bulkhead.
The Diazepam junkie
As far forward as possible is recommended as the ride is not only smoother and quieter it is closer to re-assuring airline staff. Window or aisle is a personal preference, for some the aisle’s proximity to exits is reassuring.
As a wallflower myself the back third of the economy cabin, window seat, is my top pick. The insurance of overhead luggage space and the possibility of a seat between my neighbour and I far outweigh the perks of the other seats. I use noise-cancelling earphones to dull the engine to a whisper and as a confident flyer find the gentle motion somewhat comforting.
My tips for anyone aiming for business class comfort at an economy price is to book your flight on a Tuesday morning as this is when flights are cheapest. Travel at midday on Wednesday when the chaotic airport becomes a ghost town with business travellers out of sight until Friday fly’s by.