Seat Selection for Long Haul Travel

This post is written for the 99.9% of travelling folks who travel in Economy class. If you fly business class long haul everywhere, you're in good hands.

I love long haul travel.

Requirement at check in - you, your passport and your bag of essential possessions.

At this point in time I always intervene to politely ask for the seat of my choice. (Well I used to until I got upgraded to next level in my frequent flyer program and its complimentary now)

Now here's for the million dollar question that I mull over:

Do I opt for the window seat to get a few photos that could potentially get me maximum exposure on PlaneImages?


Do I opt for the aisle seat so I can go to the toilet whenever and I'm not at the mercy of the sleeping beast next to me?

For me it's not that simple I use this selection method instead:

Is the flight longer than 7 hours?

  • Yes - I go into preference the for the aisle seat automatically.
    • Is the flight for most of the duration over the water? example Sydney - Los Angeles
      • Yes - Nothing to photograph, so I'll definitely take the aisle and take the convenience of going to the toliet and stretching my legs whenever. DONE Aisle seat it is.
      • No - I'm still entertaining the window option but its got slim odds.
    • Is the flight mostly at night?
      • Yes - give me the aisle, nothing to photograph and chances are I'll miss a 737 cruising past when I'm tired
      • No - I'm still entertaining the window option and its well and truly back in contention.
    • Is the flight over scenery that I've longed to see?
      • Yes - a flight over Greenland whilst the sun was rising provided some magical opportunities to see a unique perspective of some stunning landscape.
      • No - aisle seat wins.
  • No - I'm pretty set on the window seat with the cabin fuselage used as a support pillar for my pillow and I'm most likely going to be awake so staring out the window offers some time to think without interruption.

8 times out of 10 I prefer the window seat but long haul travel is different, it comes down to personal comfort versus photographic opportunities and most of the time personal comfort wins on long haul sectors.

There is always the flightdeck visit at the end to make up for any missed opportunities...