The best seat on the plane is in the very back

by Сашка

Sometimes the last row is even better than the front of economy. Here’s why.

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Sometime over the past year, I learned a crucial travel fact about myself: I prefer to sit at the back of the airplane.

I’d been leaning in that direction for years — and not because of data that suggests the back of the plane is the best in the event of a plane crash.

But as someone who flies thousands of miles per year to destinations as close to home as Norfolk and as far away as Dubai — primarily in economy — my choice of seat matters almost as much as where I’m traveling.

Airline helpfully tweets advice on where on a plane you are least likely to die in a crash

I don’t expect to have many supporters, but sitting at the back of the plane can be better than the front of economy.

One of the biggest complaints about sitting in the last row is being close to the lavatory, but it’s a nonissue for me. I drink lots of water on flights to combat dehydration, so I make several trips to the lavatory, even on shorter flights. And any foul odors emitting from the lavatory are easily taken care of by slipping on a mask or asking a flight attendant to freshen it up.

Although many travelers understandably book closer to the front to be the first off the plane, I rarely rush to deplane unless I have a connection. I’ve also found that airlines generally don’t charge a fee to sit in the back, unlike with the exit row, which can cost nearly $100 on some routes on U.S. airlines.

To the people who willingly chose the middle seat: We have questions

While I’ve mostly booked last-row seats on short- and medium-haul flights, such as to Miami or Los Angeles from my home in NYC, I’m not opposed to doing so on a long-haul flight. In fact, some of the best seats on long-haul flights can be found toward the back.

Perhaps the best example is on Singapore Airlines’ longest flight in the world: a whopping 18-hour-and-50-minute nonstop flight from New York.

On the route, Singapore flies an Airbus A350-900 ultra-long-range jet that’s all business and premium economy. There are just 94 seats in premium economy, a far cry from other long-haul routes that fit as many as 300 seats behind the business-class curtain. Most of the premium-economy section is situated in a 2-4-2 configuration, meaning there are two seats on either side of the fuselage and four seats in the middle.

Rows 40 through 42 have the coveted solo seats and have no neighbor, a boon on a flight taking up most of the day. But a solo seat in Row 42 might possibly be the best premium-economy seat in the house — even if SeatGuru doesn’t agree — due to it not having a seat behind it. That means travelers can recline generously (the seats have a 38-inch pitch) without worrying about disrupting the passenger behind them.

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On shorter flights, booking the back row means I can recline (with some restrictions) without bumping into the knees of the passenger behind me and avoid a passive-aggressive complaint or, worse, a broken laptop or tablet.

The completely correct guide to reclining on a plane

Still, it seems as if I’m the outlier here. Many cabin crew and frequent fliers scoff at the idea of volunteering (or spending money, in some cases) to sit in the back. I spoke to Dave, a former flight attendant for a major U.S. airline, about sitting at the back of the plane. (Dave spoke on the condition of using his first name only to speak candidly.)

He said there’s “no real advantage” in sitting at the back of the plane.

Lavatories, Dave said, tend to be toward the back, and the galley on many short- and medium-haul jets are usually in the rear as well. The biggest discourager, though: Turbulence tends to be felt more the farther you are off the wings, Dave said.

Even knowing these facts to be true, I’m still booking a seat somewhere in the last two rows. Having peace to recline is worth it — even if it means travelers coming in and out of the lavatory.

Victoria M. Walker is a Brooklyn-based travel writer. You can follow her on X: @vikkie.

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