Crew members get a pre-flight briefing and so should you. Before you check in online, check out your aircraft. Online sites post informative seating charts for more than 60 carriers. You can locate the most coveted spots (extra legroom over-wing) and avoid the worst (near galleys and washrooms).
Flight attendants know seats that may sound wonderful – like bulkheads – can come with drawbacks, such as no under-seat storage and the possibility of sitting next to cranky infants. Even perennial favourites, like overwing exit seats, may have limited recline, (so your seat doesn’t block the emergency exit behind it), and are chilly in flight, as you are
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sitting next to an operational door or window. Depending on the aircraft configuration, these seats can also be next to lavs (washrooms.)
On long-haul flights, you may find it’s worth the extra fee to guarantee a great seat. Once onboard, it’s usually not a problem if you swap seats with another passenger, unless you’ve ordered a special meal. In that case, advise a crew member of both your old and new location.
When asking for favours, the smartest attitude is “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” not “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
FA TIP: To change seats easily after boarding, know airline protocol. The final count of passengers and their location, usually performed by the In-Charge flight attendant before push-back, gives pilots critical knowledge on the weight and balance of the aircraft. You might disrupt their calculations by switching seats before take-off. If there are empty seats available and you want to move, do so before the count or in the air.