Reader Paul emailed me the following question:
Hi Lucky, I notice in your trip reports that you always seem to sit in the last row of business class. Is there a reason you choose to sit there, or is it just all that’s available when you book last minute?
It’s true. I have a strong business class seating preference, and it’s almost always the same, regardless of the configuration.
Assuming a plane has two business class cabins (as seems to be the case on most planes I fly in business class — usually A330s, 777s, or 787s), I’ll almost always choose to sit in the very last row. This is opposite of the preference most people have, since the goal for most people is to sit as far forward as possible.
To explain my seating preference in an example, take the China Airlines flight I’m presently on, between Los Angeles and Taipei. The flight is operated by a 777-300ER, featuring 40 business class seats. There are six rows of business class seats in the forward cabin…
…then there are four rows of business class seats in the rear cabin.
Between the two cabins are the restrooms and the snack bar.
As is usually my preference, I reserved the window seat on the right side of the plane in the last row, seat 23K.
Let me start with the downsides to sitting in the last row:
- Often times the first row of economy is for bassinets, so there’s a risk of having a screaming baby behind you; fortunately that’s not an issue here, since China Airlines has a huge premium economy cabin right behind business class (and premium economy is becoming more and more common)
- Everyone walks past you during boarding, so the boarding experience is much more chaotic than if you were in the forward business class cabin, since economy doesn’t board through there
- In theory it’s marginally louder back there, since you’re closer to the engines
However, I prefer almost everything else about being in the last row of business class:
- There’s virtually no foot traffic, since the lavatories are in front of you, and passengers don’t really move between cabins; the only time there’s traffic is when the flight attendants are going to economy for their break
- Travis explained your best chances at snagging an empty seat next to you in economy, and the same philosophy applies in business class — the further back you’re seated, the better your odds of empty seats near you; in my case, the forward business class cabin is full, while I’m the only person on the right side of the rear of the cabin (literally the only person in those eight seats), so I don’t have to deal with the light/noise/smells of other passengers
- Because I have the aisle to myself, service is extremely attentive, since there’s a flight attendant assigned to this section who checks on me every few minutes
- While sitting further back might add a bit of noise due to the engine, it also greatly improves the pictures you can take with the engines in them; as an aviation geek, I love that
View from the last row of Air Canada’s 777 business class
Everyone has different preferences, though personally I swear by sitting in the last row of business class, assuming it’s a plane with two business class cabins, with the bathrooms between the two cabins.
This setup leads to a quiet flight with limited distractions, and great odds of having empty seats near you. I seem to be among the only people who feels this way, though, given that I rarely see the last row of business class occupied. Maybe that’ll slowly change. 😉
Do you have a general business class seating preference?