Is It Better to Sit on the Left or Right Side of the Plane? Frequent Fliers Weigh In

Consider these factors when selecting your seat on a plane.

<p>izusek/Getty Images</p>

izusek/Getty Images

Most travelers have a preference for window or aisle seats when it comes to air travel, but have you ever given thought to which side of the plane you should sit on? Now, before we open the floor for debate, let's make one thing clear: One side isn't necessarily safer than the other. However, there are many other reasons frequent fliers might specifically pick either the right or left side. We polled some frequent fliers about which side of the aisle they prefer — here's what they suggest you should consider when selecting your seat on an airplane.

Potential Views

If you prefer a window seat, you might want to check your potential flight path before picking a side. "I really like the window seat and often try and predict which side will have a better view based on the logical flight path into the airport," says Richard Campbell, founder of travel platform 10Adventures. "I still remember my first international flight almost 25 years ago. I was flying into London Heathrow and sat on the right-hand side of the plane, looking out on the Thames and central London as we circled over the city for our approach into LHR. What a way to start a trip!"

Catherine Heald, Asia travel expert and co-founder and CEO of Remote Lands, also prioritizes the view. “For example, when flying from Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, to Paro, Bhutan, travelers want to be on the right side for the best views of Mount Everest," she notes.

But keep in mind that no matter how much research you do, your flight might have other plans. "Even though I try to get a window seat with a great view, it's hard to predict if I'll have great views," says Campbell. "Flight paths change, weather can move in, and what looks good on a map may be underwhelming from 38,000 feet."

What's Going on in the Sky

It's not all about the view below you. "If I’m flying a polar route, I try to be on the side of the plane that will face north during local nightfall in case I have an opportunity to witness the northern lights," says atmospheric scientist Matthew Cappucci. (Writer's note: I've personally seen the northern lights from planes twice by following this rule.)

But if you're flying on a daytime flight, the sun is a more important consideration. "Since I don’t like having the sun in my eyes, I try to sit on the opposite side of the sun," says Cappucci. "Sitting on the sunny side also means being on the noticeably warmer side of the plane."

Sleeping Preference

Do you tend to lean right or left when dozing off on a plane? If you're one to sleep on planes, you'll probably find yourself leaning one way or another as you drift off. "I prefer the right side of the plane, next to the window, when booking economy. I love looking out the window, but more importantly, I tend to lean to the right when I fall asleep, especially on long-haul [flights]," says Dominika Dryjski, chief operating officer of TravMedia. That said, if you have a lie-flat seat in business class, either side will do just fine.

Related: This Psychologist's Hack for Falling Asleep Quickly on Planes Is so Simple

Right-handedness or Left-handedness

This might be a smaller consideration for nonbusiness travelers, but if you plan on working from a flight, consider your dominant hand. "As a right-handed person, I prefer to sit on the left side of the plane, in an aisle seat, as this makes it easier to work on a laptop if there's work I have to do," says John Lyotier, CEO and co-founder of TravelAI.

At the end of the day, though, there are many other factors for choosing a seat that are more important to passengers than the side of the aircraft. "I care about securing an aisle seat toward the front of the plane and away from the bathrooms, as this will reduce foot traffic in the area, noise, and unwanted smells," says Andy Palacios, VP of growth and strategic partnerships for travel app App in the Air. "Or, if it's a small aircraft and has a 1-2 configuration, I will go for the single seat." And, of course, an upgrade is always a good reason to break the rules, too.

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