How to Choose a Seat on an Airplane

1. Do it in advance. If you have acess to the tools to do this, and you don’t, you deserve what you get.

2. Do you have money? If so, go first or business class, skip the remaining steps, and shut up.

3. Are you like most people, i.e., shocked to your core by the amount of money you have to pay just to get to Denver? Then follow the rest of these steps to avoid heartache, discomfort, and olfactory disaster.

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4. Once you have made your reservation, click on the “Flight Details” or similar button on your airline’s website. (If your airline does not have a website, you have not reserved a flight. You may have called a taxi, or worse yet, reserved a seat on Amtrak.)

5. Determine from the flight details what kind of aircraft you will be flying in. Write it down, because once you leave the airline’s site, you will forget the technical, I’m-an-aviation-insider abbreviation, such as “B757-400” or “A320” or “CRJ-200.”

6. Go to www.seatguru.com and click on your airline’s name on the left navigation panel. In the list that pops up, find the type of aircraft whose model name you wrote down, and click on it. (What? You didn’t? Why didn’t you? I told you to. Now you will have to go back to Step 5, and we will all have to wait. Go ahead.)

7. Behold the magic map. Mouse over specific seats, especially those with warnings. Take these seriously, but be smart. A seat with lots of legroom that is also near the bathroom might, on balance, be a very good seat — for a two-hour flight. But not for a 12-hour flight.

7A. You. With the Cartier watch. Are you here from Step 2? I thought so. Get out of here. And shut up.

8. Where are you flying? In which direction? At what time of day, and in what season of the year? Salt Lake City to Orlando, summer evening means setting sun behind you and a bit north, or left of the plane, and therefore no glare. Either side is fine. But Miami to New York City, 8 a.m. means sunlight streaming in the starboard (right) (eastern) side. Get a seat on the left side of the plane.

9. Pressurized air makes smart people stupid, and stupid people insufferable. People will get off the plane at a speed that is in inverse proportion to your desire to get the hell out of this fucking aluminum tube Jesus Christ ohmigod in heaven please just get your pink Garfield roller out of the overhead bin and GO! Place your seat near an exit if possible.

10. Have a couple backup choices.

11. Return to your airline’s website, pull up your reservation using the identifying number the airline gave you, and click on seat selection.

12. O.K., calm down. They can’t all be taken.

13. Choose the seat that best fits the criteria you dreamed up while researching on seatguru. Do not choose a middle seat. Only stupid people do this.

14. Confirm your assignment by clicking Save and then returning to the selection page a minimum of six times.

15. Between now and the flight, get your karma right. If you don’t, a fat, hygiene-averse person with loud breathing habits will sit next to you.

16. If Steps 3-15 fail, call a taxi, or reserve a seat on Amtrak. — Adam Barr

Copyright 2012 Adam Barr

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