Selecting the perfect airline seat is crucial for a comfortable flight. As experienced travelers, we know that the right seat can make all the difference between a relaxing journey and an uncomfortable one. However, not all seats are created equal, and some can be downright unpleasant. From seats near smelly airplane toilets to exit row seats with limited recline, here are the worst seats on the plane and why.
Seats By The Airplane Bathrooms
Some of the worst seats on the plane are the rows near the airplane toilets. While it might be tempting to choose a seat near the airplane restrooms due to convenience, there are a lot more reasons to avoid them including smell and noise.
In the United States, the average number of passengers per domestic flight is 110. According to Google Bard AI, anytime you put 100 people together, ~6 people will need to poop per hour. Hopefully your fellow passengers tried to poop at the airport before the flight. That could dramatically reduce the average poops per hour during your flight. But if not, that’s a lot of stinky bathroom activity happening just a few feet away from your seat.
- Smell – Yuck! Airplane bathrooms stink.
- Commotion – There’s constant commotion near airplane bathrooms as passengers try to move past each other walking to and from the bathroom.
- Noise – Bathroom seats are usually louder due to people talking and the loud sound of the airplane toilets flushing every few minutes. Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
A seat near airplane toilets can make it difficult to get any rest or to concentrate on any work that you need to do during the flight.
- Disadvantages To Seats Near Airplane Toilets: Smell, commotion, noise.
- Advantages To Sitting Close To Airplane Bathrooms: The only reason to sit near the bathrooms, would be if you have a medical condition that requires you to frequently use the bathroom. For example, I had a coworker with a bladder cyst and she had to use the bathroom every 15-30 mins. So, when traveling, she would always book her airline seats right next to the bathroom.
Seats At The Back Of The Plane
From turbulence to delayed disembarking times, it is best to avoid sitting at the back of the plane whenever possible.
Is the back of the plane a good seat? No. Seats at the back of the plane are noisy, bumpy, take longer to embark and disembark, and often located near both bathrooms and the flight attendant galley.
- Noise – The back of the plane is generally louder than the front of the plane. This is because there are more people and more activity near the galley and bathrooms at the back of the plane. With all of the noise and commotion, it can be difficult to rest or get any work done.
- Turbulence – Passengers seated at the back of the plane are more likely to feel turbulence than those seated by the wings.
- Longer Times To Disembark – Passengers seated in the back of the plane are the last to disembark. This can be a very long wait and could potentially cause you to miss a connecting flight with a short layover.
- Last To Receive Drinks And Snacks – Because the service carts move from front to back, the rear of the plane gets served last. That means by the time the service carts reach your seat, they might be out of your preferred drinks and snacks.
The back of the plane is typically a section that most passengers want to avoid, unless you are overly worried about a plane crash. But there are some benefits of sitting at the back of a plane.
- Disadvantages To Seats In The Back Of The Plane: Noisy, takes longer to exit the plane, bumpy, last to receive snacks and drinks.
- Benefits Of Sitting At The Back Of A Plane: Safety. Is it safer to ride in front or back of the plane? There is some evidence to suggest that passengers seated in the back of the plane have a higher survival rate in a plane crash. Read this report for more info.
Seats Near The Galley
Flight attendants are constantly moving in and out of the galley area. The noise and commotion coming from the galley can lead to disturbances and discomfort throughout your entire flight.
The galleys can be in the front, back, or middle of the aircraft and are louder because it is where the flight crews work during the flight. But if you need to rest or work on your flight, sitting near a galley is a bad idea, especially during red-eyes and longer flights.
What’s worse than sitting next to the galley? Sitting next to a galley near a bathroom. The rear of the plane often has both a galley and bathroom.
- Advantages Of Airplane Seats Near The Galley: In between drink and food service runs, sometimes you can go to the galley for extra items, like an additional cup of coffee.
- Disadvantages Of Airplane Seats Near The Galley: Noise, commotion
The Middle Seats
Middle seats suck. These seats have shared arm rests with the aisle and window seats and make you feel trapped. They also come with added inconveniences, such as having to wake up fellow passengers when trying to get up or use the bathroom.
Airplane middle seats are the worst. Sandwiched between two other seats, they offer no personal space and little room to stretch out. This can be especially uncomfortable for larger individuals or those who suffer from claustrophobia.
Dealing with people getting up and down frequently can be a common inconvenience when sitting in a middle seat on a plane. Passengers in the window seat may need to get up and down to use the restroom or access their belongings in the overhead bin, which can disrupt your sleep or relaxation. It’s important to be prepared for this possibility when choosing a middle seat and consider the potential interruptions it may cause during your flight.
- Middle Seat Disadvantages: Less personal space, have to get up to let window seat passenger use the bathroom
- Middle Seat Advantages: When flying on a red-eye, you might want a middle instead of an aisle seat. This will prevent you from getting jostled in your sleep.
Airplane Bulkhead Seats
Bulkhead seats, despite their perceived advantages of extra legroom and aisle access, can actually be among the worst seats on the plane. As airlines continue to reduce legroom to maximize seating, many bulkhead seats can now be cramped and uncomfortable.
What are bulkhead seats? Bulkheads are the walls that divide the different sections of the plane. Airplane bulkhead seats are the seats that have bulkheads directly in front of them.
Years ago, airplane bulkhead seats had lots of extra legroom and were one of the most desirable seats on a plane. But the appeal of bulkhead seats has diminished over the years. As airlines strive to maximize seating capacity, the extra legroom near the bulkhead is being reduced.
Another disadvantage of a bulkhead seat, is the lack of storage space for personal belongings. Because there isn’t a seat in front of you, personal bags need to be stored in the overhead compartment. This can be very inconvenient for travelers who need quick access to their items, or medication, during the flight.
- Disadvantages Of Bulkhead Seats: Extra legroom has been reduced on newer plane, personal items bag must be stored in overhead compartment
- Bulkhead Seat Advantages: The only benefit of bulkhead seats, is if you are traveling with an infant. Many bulkhead seats have a bassinet option for babies. But make sure you check with the airline before booking your flight. Not all bulkhead seats have bassinet options. Also be sure to bring extra cleaning supplies. The bassinet may not get the same regular cleaning attention as the rest of the plane.
Seats Against A Wall (Bulkhead, Bathroom, Galley, Etc)
You don’t want to have a bulkhead in front of your seat, or behind you. If you have a bulkhead behind you, then your seat will probably have very limited recline.
Sitting anywhere near a bulkhead seat is probably a bad idea. When the bulkhead is in front of you, you have no where to place your personal item bag. And when the bulkhead is behind you, then you can’t recline your seat.
Reddit user mycherrystrawberry realized their mistake after booking a seat with a bulkhead behind them. “Booked a flight… and realized my seat, 37E is right up against the bathroom I think? Is there any recline space, sure doesn’t look it.”
- Wall Seats Disadvantages: Limited or no recline, often located next to a bathroom.
- Wall Seats Advantages: No kids behind you to kick or climb over your seat.
Airplane Window Seats
Make sure to carefully consider the location of your seat and the duration of your flight before opting for a window seat. While window seats can be a good choice for sleeping or privacy, it may be wiser to choose another seat if you anticipate needing to use the bathroom frequently or prefer more flexibility during the flight.
Even seats with a great view can turn into a nightmare on long flights. Window seats may initially seem appealing with their scenic views and the option to lean against the window for a nap.
But what happens when you need to use the bathroom? You may find yourself trapped by other passengers in your row. Repeatedly asking the other passengers in your row to move can be inconvenient, especially on a long-haul flight where everyone is trying to sleep.
If you have a strong bladder and can fall asleep easily on airplanes, then you might want to book a window seat.
- Airplane Window Seat Advantages: View out window, opportunity to use the window as a pillow, entertaining for kids
- Airplane Window Seat Disadvantages: Trapped at end of row, other passengers need to get up so you exit your seat
Airplane Wing Seats
If you are nervous about flying, sit between the wings. This is the most stable part of the plane and there is less turbulence there. Otherwise, avoid airplane wing seats. These seats are closest to the engines and are usually very noisy.
Some of the worst seats on the plane are undoubtedly the wing seats. While wing seats may provide a slightly smoother ride for people who suffer from motion sickness, that’s about the only benefit.
Since the engines are located on the wing, airplane wing seats are often much noisier than other seats, making it harder to enjoy a quiet flight. Additionally, if you’re stuck with a wing window seat, the wing can block your view of the sky, making the flight feel even more cramped.
- Airplane Wing Seat Advantages: If you suffer from air sickness or have trouble dealing with turbulence, then you should consider booking an airline seat near the wings. Both the front and rear of the plane bounce during turbulence, but the wing section is the smoothest section of the aircraft.
- Airplane Wing Seat Disadvantages: Very noisy, block view outside window
Exit Row Seats
Are exit row seats better? Exit rows have a little extra leg room, but come at the cost of losing the ability to recline your seat and store your belongings by your feet.
Exit row seats are popular with passengers who want a little extra leg room. However, the trade-off for this added space is that these seats have limited recline capability and require passengers to have small personal item bags that completely fit under the seat in front of them.
With limited recline option, exit row seats can be particularly inconvenient for long-haul flights. It’s not much, but even an inch or two can help you get into a more comfortable sleeping position than a straight vertical seat.
It is important to note that these seats are reserved for passengers who are physically able to assist in an emergency evacuation, which means that airlines can sometimes require passengers to meet specific criteria before letting them occupy these seats.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether the benefits of extra legroom outweigh the inconveniences of limited recline and restricted baggage storage.
- Exit Row Seats Advantages: Extra legroom
- Exit Row Seats Disadvantages: Seats don’t recline, personal item limited to small bags that fix completely under the seat in front of you.
- If you want to sleep on your flight, don’t book an aisle seat. Although aisle seats offer more legroom, they may not be the best choice if you’re looking to get some sleep. This is because people walking up and down the aisle will frequently bump into people sitting in aisle seats, causing disturbance and discomfort.
If you want an extra room without losing the ability to recline your seat then aisle seats are for you. But people who sit in aisle seats are often bumped by passengers walking up and down the aisle and have to move to let others in the row out to use the bathroom.
Aisle seats near bathrooms are especially busy because passengers will often use aisle seat headrests as handrails to help them safely walk to the bathroom. It’s hard to sleep when random people are constantly grabbing at your seat.
- Aisle Seat Advantages: Ability to stand up or use the restroom without disturbing other passengers.
- Aisle Seat Disadvantages: Commotion from passengers walking up and down the aisle. If baggage falls out of the overhead bin, it will fall on to your head.
Seats In The Front Of An Airplane
The front of an airplane tends to have the most amenities. Passengers seated in the front of the plane get to board and disembark first. They also receive food and drinks first, and it’s less noisy than the rear of the plane. But is it the safest place to sit?
Even if you aren’t seated in first class, sitting at the front of an airplane has several key advantages.
- Early Boarding & Disembarking – Passengers seated in the front of the plane are the first to board and disembark. This can save a lot of time, especially on busy flights.
- Less Noise – The front of the plane is generally quieter than the back of the plane. This is because there are fewer people and less activity in the front of the plane.
- First Served – Food is served from the front of the plane to the back. So you will have more food and beverage options if you sit near the front of an airplane. As popular selections run out, passengers in the back of the plane have less options.
But one of the main disadvantages to sitting at the front of an airplane is turbulence. Besides the rear of the aircraft, the front is the second most bumpy section of the plane. If you are overly sensitive to air turbulence, then sit in the middle section by the wings. This part of the plane is much smoother compared to the front and back.
Another disadvantage to sitting at the front of an airplane, is plane crash survival rates. Statistically, you are more likely to survive a plane crash when seated in the back of the plane, not the front.
- Front Of An Airplane Advantages: Early boarding and disembarking, served food and drinks first, less noise, less turbulence than the back of the plane
- Front Of An Airplane Disadvantages: Lower survival rates in the event of a plane crash
What’s The Worst Seat On An Airplane?
So, at this point, what’s left? Where should you sit on a plane? LOL. Nowhere. All airline seats are bad seats. If you can, choose the seat that makes you the least miserable. For most people, this is an aisle seat at the front of the plane. And if possible, do whatever it takes to avoid the absolute worst seat on a plane.
What’s the worst seat on an airplane? The middle seat on the last row… near the bathrooms and the galley. Here’s why…
- Limited Recline – The last row of the plane usually has limited recline. So sitting in the last row of an airplane means you probably won’t be able to put your seat back.
- Lack Of Privacy & Personal Space – With people on both sides of you, the middle seat has the least amount of privacy and personal space than the widow or aisle seat.
- Loud – The rear of most commercial aircraft have both bathrooms and the galley. Between the toilets flushing and passengers gathered in line, this tends to be the loudest part of the airplane.
- Smelly – Bathrooms are usually located at the back of each plane, so the back rows are more likely to encounter undesirable smells coming from the airplane bathrooms.
- Last Service – Even though the last row is the closest to the galley, the last row is the last to receive food and drink service from the flight attendants.
- Last To Disembark The Plane – If you are in a hurry, or have a connecting flight, then the last place that you want to be is in the last row of the airplane. People seated in the rear of the plane are the last to disembark and can wait 20+ mins for everyone else to exit the aircraft.
Changing Your Seat Selection Depending On Your Travel Situation
There are a few things to consider when choosing a seat. First, think about your personal preferences. Do you like to sleep on planes? If so, you’ll want to choose a window seat. Do you need to get up and move around frequently? If so, you’ll want to choose an aisle seat. Are you flying with a baby? Perhaps you’d want a bulkhead seat for a bassinet.
Second, consider the type of flight you’re taking. If you’re on a short flight, you might not be as picky about your seat. But if you’re on a long flight, you’ll want to choose a seat that’s comfortable and has plenty of legroom.
Finally, consider the airline you’re flying with. Some airlines have better seats than others. Do some research to see what other passengers have said about the seats on the airline you’re flying with.
And even if you normally choose an aisle seat at the front of the plane for business travel, you may need to modify your seat selection depending on your travel situation.
The only reason to intentionally choose a bad seat is budget. Middle seats near the rear of the plane are often cheaper and can help you save money if you are traveling on a budget.
Avoiding The Worst Seats On The Plane
When booking your flight, it’s important to consider the location of your seat carefully. Knowing which seats to avoid can make a big difference in your comfort when flying. While the worst seats on a plane may vary depending on the airline, aircraft type, and personal preferences, some seats you should try to avoid at all costs.
When booking your next flight, it’s worth taking the time to review the available seat options and choose the ones that will make your journey as comfortable as possible. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll arrive at your destination ready to take on whatever’s next.
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