My Unusual Business Class Seat Preference

My Unusual Business Class Seat Preference

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On my recent review of Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX business class, reader Jason D asked the following:

I’ve noticed that you so often choose your seats as far back in the business class cabin as possible. Just being nosey as to your reasoning why as I guess it’s more common for flyers to choose seats as far forward as possible.

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, ideally on the right side (and I’m a window person over an aisle person). This is the opposite of the preference that most people have, since the goal for most people 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)
  • 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 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 (25)
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  1. Schar Gold

    In premium class I always try to sit in the second row. If narrowbody domestic F, since Im tall, sitting in bulkhead greatly limits stretching room for my long legs. Second row I can always stretch them underneath the front seat. I also like to be one of the first to leave the plane as quickly as possible for less of a queue in immigration etc.

  2. Enda Burroughs Guest

    I found the one and only time sitting at the back of business class the seat did not decline into a bed. More leg room than coach, but could not recline. The one time taught me a lesson.......as did flying on Virgin Airlines...never again.

  3. Aaron Guest

    Usually the very front of either cabin for me as generally, the foot wells tend to be deeper at a bulkhead. Also, during Covid, since the air flow in a cabin runs front to back (and ceiling to floor)

  4. AV Geek Guest

    call me basic but I really enjoy sitting at the front of the plane, especially on BA's Buisness class, I think it feels much more private and you get great views facing the wing. it also feels more private again with BA's window seats!

  5. Ed Guest

    Im a windows guy and prefer an A seat, but one that is next to the window. In some business class configurations with cubicle like seating you could be next to the window or next to the aisle in a single seat. Also depending on the destination, one that will have the best views during thev light.

  6. ps241 Guest

    We try to stick to only the first two rows of the premium cabin, because if there is an equipment change to a different aircraft with a smaller premium cabin, seat assignments in rows 1 and 2 will almost always be "safe" and still be there on the smaller plane, whereas passengers with assignments in higher numbered rows risk being downgraded if the premium cabin on the smaller aircraft has only a couple of rows of seats. (We learned this the hard way years ago.)

  7. James Guest

    ha! I'm almost the same... last row in business class, aisle. Since I mainly fly domestic, if I sit there, I won't bother anyone if I recline my seat, plus closer to the front you are competing with bulkheads that have to put everything up top. My bag is guaranteed to be above me or slightly ahead, never behind me.

    I'm not sure what is on the other side of the curtain that is right behind me, but I think that is where they hang my jacket and iron my newspapers.

  8. D3kingg Guest

    @Ben

    Yes I took you up on this advice of sitting in the rear of the business class cabin many years ago and as a result its been quiet in flight in that part of the cabin especially on 12+ hours flights between US and Asia.
    Hit the call button for a mid flight snack. Text book call button etiquette on an international ultra long haul flight as opposed to walking into the galley the crew may be resting. Good times.

  9. Morgan Diamond

    Is the same true for when you (rarely) sit in economy?

  10. Motion to Dismiss Member

    It’s interesting that while I recognize the same pros and cons that you do, I just have totally different priorities. I’d much rather avoid a bunch of economy passengers walking past me, and I prefer to be served earlier on. On a widebody row 3 is the sweet spot for me, since I also avoid row 1 if I can due to proximity to the restrooms/galley.

  11. Fathiss Guest

    I prefer the middle seat in a 2-3-2 configuration. Then I have a choice of which person I want to converse non-stop on my 12 hour flight.

  12. TranceXplant Member

    I have the same preferences in business class: back row, window, right side. My only exceptions are when I either have a very short connection (closer to door = faster egress) or am on a commuter jet with 1-2 seating (1A is my favorite seat).

  13. sexy_kitten7 Member

    Another issue is being next to the lav!

  14. Matt Guest

    The major reason I try to sit as far to the front as possible is the engine noise. Maybe it is just me but I find the back of the business class to have significantly more engine noise then the front, especially on the a330 and b777.

  15. DLPTATL Guest

    I would generally agree were it not for the fact that I have a restricted diet. If I can't pre-select my meal I try and guess based on galley location whether meal orders are likely to be taken front-rear or rear-front to up my odds of actually being able to eat what's available.

  16. Clem Diamond

    Usually the middle for me, to be as far as possible to any galley, bathroom, baby bassinets, and get a decent chance at getting the meal I want regardless of if they start from the front or the back.

  17. Dick Bupkiss Guest

    You don't specify why you choose the right side. I think that's often a mistake, for several reasons...

    1. I always choose a window seat on the "darker" side of the plane (usually that's facing north, assuming northern hemisphere, and non trans-polar routes). Especially on planes with no window shades (I'm looking at you, Boeing 787s). When I want to sleep, I don't want the sun (even an "electronically dimmed" sun) beating down on my...

    You don't specify why you choose the right side. I think that's often a mistake, for several reasons...

    1. I always choose a window seat on the "darker" side of the plane (usually that's facing north, assuming northern hemisphere, and non trans-polar routes). Especially on planes with no window shades (I'm looking at you, Boeing 787s). When I want to sleep, I don't want the sun (even an "electronically dimmed" sun) beating down on my face. The side of the aircraft facing the sun will always be brighter (maybe hotter, too). I prefer to have the shady side. Of course, on some routes there is no "shady side" but there's usually one that will get more shade than the other. Look up the origin of the term "Posh"; the same reasoning also applies to flights.
    2. There's always a chance of spotting the northern lights when it's dark outside. Admittedly, it's a small chance, but you have zero chance of that if you are facing south (assuming northern hemisphere).
    Of course, figuring out which side of the plane will be (more) in the shade requires a little planning, but it's not rocket science.
    3. The standard for airport traffic patterns around the world are for LEFT turns. This (left wing down while turning left) gives you MUCH better views out the window ("wrong side" views are just up at the sky). The direction your aircraft will turn (left or right) depends on many other factors (mostly approach/departure procedures, runway in use, terrain, traffic and wind direction) so you can't assume left turns. But all other factors being absent, left turns are the norm.

    Also agree with the many comments here about noise coming from galleys behind them. That's a major factor for me.

  18. Khatl Gold

    Depends on where the galleys are. I'm a fan of sitting as far away from other classes, galleys, restrooms etc. That generally makes the back of the biz cabin a definite no for me.

    1. Khatl Gold

      And to other's comments, being at the back can impact whether you get your meal choice or not.

  19. Jeff Guest

    I like to be in the middle rows away from galleys and lavs. I usually don’t like being in the rear because it’s typically in close proximity of a premium economy galley. It’s not as much of a problem on some foreign East Asian carriers. But, among western carriers (especially in the US, the crew seem to be very loud. You can hear carts and service items being shuffled around. The worst is the sound...

    I like to be in the middle rows away from galleys and lavs. I usually don’t like being in the rear because it’s typically in close proximity of a premium economy galley. It’s not as much of a problem on some foreign East Asian carriers. But, among western carriers (especially in the US, the crew seem to be very loud. You can hear carts and service items being shuffled around. The worst is the sound of the various storage doors being slammed shut. This is what usually wakes me up.

  20. Super Member

    Personal choice is the bulkhead because you don't see any other passengers unless you look behind or someone is going to the bathroom. Makes it feel more intimate and vaguely like your own personal jet.

  21. Tom Guest

    My preference is dictated broadly by how the airline takes food orders, so those preferences may even change on the same airline - Delta's FEBO (from the FRONT for EVEN numbered flights, from the BACK for ODD numbered flights), for example.

  22. Alonzo Diamond

    I sat in the back of Cathay Pacific first class as the reccomendation from everyone. They ran out of the meal I wanted. So, never again. I'll sit in the row or two in front of the final row.

  23. Jim Guest

    Also - on many (but not all) widebodies, boarding is at door 2L, which means the back of the business cabin is closer to the door. Very important when you want to beat the rush to passport control! :)

    1. pstm91 Diamond

      This is exactly how I pick my seat for my flight departing the US - whatever gets me out of the plane the fastest (although I prefer a window seat). Returning to the US I don't really care since it's a non-factor with Global Entry.

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.

Jeff Guest

I like to be in the middle rows away from galleys and lavs. I usually don’t like being in the rear because it’s typically in close proximity of a premium economy galley. It’s not as much of a problem on some foreign East Asian carriers. But, among western carriers (especially in the US, the crew seem to be very loud. You can hear carts and service items being shuffled around. The worst is the sound of the various storage doors being slammed shut. This is what usually wakes me up.

3
Jim Guest

Also - on many (but not all) widebodies, boarding is at door 2L, which means the back of the business cabin is closer to the door. Very important when you want to beat the rush to passport control! :)

2
Schar Gold

In premium class I always try to sit in the second row. If narrowbody domestic F, since Im tall, sitting in bulkhead greatly limits stretching room for my long legs. Second row I can always stretch them underneath the front seat. I also like to be one of the first to leave the plane as quickly as possible for less of a queue in immigration etc.

1
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