My Unusual Business Class Seat Preference

My Unusual Business Class Seat Preference

22

When I publish my airline reviews, readers sometimes comment about how I typically select seats toward the back of premium cabins, whether in first or business class, and wonder why.

It’s true. I have a strong business class seating preference, and it’s almost always the same, regardless of the configuration. Specifically, I typically like to sit in the last row of business class. Furthermore, I prefer window seats to aisle seats. The side of the aircraft I prefer to sit on varies based on the route, on what side the sun will be during the flight, etc.

My preference is the opposite of the approach most people take, since the typical choice is to sit as far forward as possible. So let me explain why.

The benefits of sitting in the back of business class

Admittedly there are so many different cabin configurations out there, so there’s nothing that’s going to be true across airlines and planes. However, here are some of the reasons I generally prefer to sit in the last row of business class:

  • Business class seats start filling up from front to back, so your best chances of scoring an empty seat next to you are to sit in the back of the cabin (this is of course a moot point on US airlines, where there’s no such thing as an empty premium seat, due to complimentary upgrades)
  • There’s virtually no foot traffic during the flight, since the lavatories are in front of you, and passengers don’t really move between cabins
  • As an aviation geek, I love having a view of the engine and wing, and those are generally better the further back you sit
  • I always prefer having a bulkhead behind me, since it adds a bit of privacy, and it also means you won’t have someone seated behind you who is constantly pushing their entertainment monitor, resting their feet on your seat, pulling your seat to stand up, etc.
  • Since I review airlines, I love being able to observe the service flow throughout the cabin, and that’s easier to do when you’re further back; it’s also easier to snap pictures of the entire cabin while everyone is seated when you can observe the cabin constantly

So yeah, across the board I prefer sitting in the back of business class.

Turkish Airlines A321neo business class

However, I’m particularly a fan of sitting in the back of business class on wide body aircraft with two business class cabins. The rear cabin almost always remains emptier, and feels more private anyway, since there are usually just a few rows at most.

Oman Air A330 forward business class cabin
Oman Air A330 rear business class cabin

The one exception I’d note to my preference is that we’re increasingly seeing airlines introduce “business class plus” products at the front of business class, offering extra space (and sometimes amenities) at a cost. If those are available and a good value, then of course I prefer the better seat.

The downsides of sitting in the back of business class

While there are plenty of upsides to sitting in the back of the cabin, there are also some downsides, which I wanted to at least acknowledge:

  • Often times the first row of economy (right behind business class) is for bassinets, so there’s a risk of having a screaming baby behind you; fortunately I’ve rarely found this to be an issue
  • For situations where there are two business class cabins, generally everyone boards past you in the rear cabin, making the boarding experience much more hectic
  • It can be louder in the back of business class, since you’re closer to the engine
  • Every airline has a different policy on how meal orders are taken, though on some airlines meals are prioritized front to back, which is tricky if you’re seated in the last row
Views are often better in the back of business class

Bottom line

Everyone has different airplane seating preferences. In business class, most people seem to try to sit as far forward as possible, while I take the opposite approach, and try to sit in the back. This applies whether we’re talking about a narrow body plane, or a wide body plane with multiple business class cabins.

When sitting in the back you have better odds of having an empty seat next to you, us avgeeks typically have a better view of the wing and engine, and I also enjoy watching the service flow in the cabin.

Do you have a general business class seating preference?

Conversations (22)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. FZ Guest

    It really depends on the type of aircraft and on the airline. Swiss Business, I would almost always want to sit in the first row as it’s behind first class with no galley or lavatories between the two and only two rows of seats in the compartment. LH 747-8 I would almost always do upper deck in front which is super quiet. Lastly, depends on the arrival airport and their passport / customs checks, for...

    It really depends on the type of aircraft and on the airline. Swiss Business, I would almost always want to sit in the first row as it’s behind first class with no galley or lavatories between the two and only two rows of seats in the compartment. LH 747-8 I would almost always do upper deck in front which is super quiet. Lastly, depends on the arrival airport and their passport / customs checks, for some I might want to sit very close to the most likely exit door to be first at the passport control and save 30 min. Especially if I travel with hand luggage only.

  2. Fred M Guest

    Good points. When I travelled for work, ‘bizzo’ was a perk on a company dime but my most memorable trip was PHX-LHR on the BA 744 in the extra-cost upper deck Club World with the small cabin filled only by my travel group, two great FAs and its own galley and toilet. I was port side, aisle seat, last row, and the guy next to me facing rearwards had his own aisle access, so minimal...

    Good points. When I travelled for work, ‘bizzo’ was a perk on a company dime but my most memorable trip was PHX-LHR on the BA 744 in the extra-cost upper deck Club World with the small cabin filled only by my travel group, two great FAs and its own galley and toilet. I was port side, aisle seat, last row, and the guy next to me facing rearwards had his own aisle access, so minimal disturbance from neighbors or FAs.
    An experience no longer available as BA axed the Queen of the Skies with Covid; most were parted out at an airfield near me. RIP.

  3. Bill n DC Diamond

    Did you say which side? “ The side of the aircraft I prefer to sit on varies based on the route, on what side the sun will be during the flight, etc.”???

    I pick the non sun side for less glare. Can be tricky on LH418 FRA-IAD. On the right hand size no sun until the arch to the south on the final part of the flight

  4. Roundtree Member

    I always look for mini-cabin when available. Other than that, I try to avoid being too close to the lavatory or the galley.

  5. Scott fong Guest

    On narrow body or non-lay flat aircraft i’m always aisle and row 2 or 3. I never take bulk heads and i value hip space over leg room.

    On wide bode I make bulk head exception for Singapore business a350 for the extra leg room while sleeping. Almost every other wide body business i’ll take closest to the exit so i can clear passport control quicker.

    For first class on wide bodies… it doesn’t really matter much to me unless I’m travelling with my girlfriend.

  6. Rick L Guest

    My choice dictated by proximity to restrooms on night time W to E flights. Can't sleep with door slams and flushes.

  7. rrapynot Guest

    Just flew business on a British Airways A320 that had 13 rows of business with a 30” seat pitch. My assigned seat was a non-reclining row since it was in front of an exit row. Basically half of the plane was business class.

  8. D3kingg Guest

    Always last row window of business class. I learned that from Ben. It’s usually very quiet mid flight on a long haul.

  9. MikeD Guest

    I prefer the second row for domestic first class -- typically more storage space than the first row.

    For international business class, I like to be in the middle, or towards the back. Too close to the front or back and you tend to be too close to chattering FA's. Towards the back is preferable to towards the front so you can deplane sooner.

  10. Paul Guest

    I go for the Larger footwells behind the bulkhead more generous in business, strong preference for overnight flights.

    I can knock myself out and don't really care what people are up to around me.

    Fortunately, the snack selection put by the bulkhead is terrible on most airlines transatlanticly, so that reduces foot traffic.

  11. schrap2755 Guest

    OH I want to be in row 1 aisle as often as possible! I have over 2M "butt in seat" flight miles and still am not a fan at all of turbulence or bumps. As such, I take comfort by watching the crew going about their business thinking basically if they are up -- things are ok even in the bumps. If they are seated, I still look at them for visual comfort -- if they are playing sudoko and chit chatting, I'm a happy camper.

    1. Tom Guest

      If bumps scare you then you want to be as close to the center of the plane as possible. But they don't bother me so I am with Ben - back of whatever cabin I am in.

  12. Super Diamond

    Is there an easy way to see if a US domestic plane has a solid wall bulkhead between First & Economy? If it's an actual wall then I also like the last seat so you can recline fully without any guilt.

  13. Chris 202 Guest

    I know it’s irrational but I just feel so freaking bougie turning left rather than right, which is why I usually avoid the mini cabin. I also don’t love all the people filing past during boarding.

    That said, I’ll sit back there for a bulkhead or if it’s the only window available.

  14. E39 New Member

    @ Ben, why does US airlines give complimentary upgrades? Can’t think of anyone else who does this

    1. Tom Guest

      Yeah, part of why I choose foreign airlines for premium cabin travel is that they do not do that auto-upgrade thing. Typically Business or First is half empty on foreign airlines. But never on US airlines, who do not really understand the concept of exclusivity and will stick some guy out of Coach right next to you just because he has a few miles or his wife works for the airlines.

  15. E39 New Member

    I think the worst business class seat location I can think of is Qatar’s non q-suite 787s, where there are two seats in between the only two lavs for biz

  16. digital_notmad Diamond

    At least on US airlines, I find that the service at the rear of the business cabin tends to be worse than the front; FAs seem to forget about you and don't drop by unless/until there is a specific reason to do so, e.g., meal service. (Of course FAs can do that regardless of where you're seated, but the risk is higher toward the rear IME.)

  17. Gerwanese Member

    I also prefer the last row for more privacy, although I have a few differences in choice compared to you.

    If there are two business class cabins, I only choose the rear cabin if there's some proper separation (business-only toilets or a galley) towards (premium) economy; otherwise, with just a thin wall in between, I prefer to stay further away from the noise and choose the last row of the forward cabin. I don't mind...

    I also prefer the last row for more privacy, although I have a few differences in choice compared to you.

    If there are two business class cabins, I only choose the rear cabin if there's some proper separation (business-only toilets or a galley) towards (premium) economy; otherwise, with just a thin wall in between, I prefer to stay further away from the noise and choose the last row of the forward cabin. I don't mind galley noise all that much, but have harder time sleeping with the typically louder noise of economy cabin nearby.

    Regarding the side of the cabin, for widebody aircraft on night flights I usually prefer the side were the larger toilet (usually with diaper changing table) is located, as that's pretty convenient for changing to pajama.

    Luckily in nowadays business class cabins with 1-2-1 layout I don't see nearby toilets as too much of a noise problem anymore, since the number of people using each toilet is not that high and usually you still have curtains between seats and toilets/galley.

    Lastly, I found that on Etihad there's a higher than usual probability of baby bassinets used in business class. So exclusively on their flights I'll choose seats a bit away from them, which can be in the back or front depending on the aircraft.

  18. FF Guest

    biggest reason to sit in front is bc of air flow esp. where there are no air nozzles.

  19. Likes-to-fly Member

    I prefer seats somewhere in the middle rows, slightly closer to the front. Due to meal availability, optional galley noise etc. If I travel alone, window seat. It`s nice to look through the window at take-off and landing, especially in good weather. Evening views of the big cities are sometimes just amazing.

  20. Summer Guest

    I've had a couple experiences where I've sat in the last row of business class, and the galley where they prepare meals was right behind me, so it was very noisy and crowded. So I suppose it depends on the configuration of the plane.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Summer Guest

I've had a couple experiences where I've sat in the last row of business class, and the galley where they prepare meals was right behind me, so it was very noisy and crowded. So I suppose it depends on the configuration of the plane.

2
digital_notmad Diamond

At least on US airlines, I find that the service at the rear of the business cabin tends to be worse than the front; FAs seem to forget about you and don't drop by unless/until there is a specific reason to do so, e.g., meal service. (Of course FAs can do that regardless of where you're seated, but the risk is higher toward the rear IME.)

1
FF Guest

biggest reason to sit in front is bc of air flow esp. where there are no air nozzles.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
5,163,247 Miles Traveled

32,614,600 Words Written

35,045 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT