Selecting a Plane Seat: 5 Reasons Why Last Row Should Be First Choice

Plane windows during the night, with a man behind the first window, a woman behind a second one, and a dog sitting in the last row plane seat, graphics by

What are the best airplane seats? I have an easy question to this widely debated question: go for the last row! The last seat on the flight is always my first choice!

Selecting a plane seat may or may not be your worst nightmare. With so many pros and cons for any of them, deciding on the best place to sit on an airplane gets complicated.

Are the back seats on a plane good? Airport staff seemingly objects: “Are you sure you don’t want to be reseated to a better seat?”

Picking the last seats on flights could definitely raise an eyebrow or two. It might happen that even the airport staff at the baggage drop-off asks you: “Are you sure you don’t want to be reseated to a better seat?”

Is the last row of the plane really that bad? Sure, the ride in the back of the plane could be bumpier, the seats in the last row sometimes may not fully recline, they are also just in front of the plane’s toilets area, and they are never actually mentioned as the “best seat on a plane”.

But there are also many unmentioned benefits of sitting at the back of a plane, some of which I will discuss in this post on the best airplane seats.

My choice might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But until somebody rewards me with the business class treatment, I will always be choosing “the worst seats of the economy class”.

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Passengers’ sweet dreams becoming your worst nightmare

Here is one example to illustrate this idea! The flight from Riga, Latvia, to Frankfurt, Germany, was not a long one. Lufthansa brought me there for two and a half hours. But flights that depart at 06:30 in the morning make one sleepy, no matter how long the actual trip is.

In the plane, legs of the passenger who is seating behind are protruding under the seat in front, photo by Ivan Kralj
This is why a plane seat in the last row could save your legroom space!

Drugged by the narcotic sound of the plane engines, rows and rows of travelers fell into sleep, with their jaws dropping on their chests as if they were waiting for a dentist checkup.

Just at the moment when I planned to hit the sack myself, something scratched my heels. Did the life vest fall off? Has the part of the seat crumbled? Did somebody’s bag get legs?

It couldn’t be! Both mine and the row behind mine were the emergency exit rows. I know that for many people these are indeed the best plane seats. They provide more space, but no luggage could be stored beneath those plane seats.

Hence, the tickle I sensed did not derive from a bag.

I moved my legs apart and in between, the two shiny shoes emerged. Whose legs were these?! How could someone sit in the extra legroom plane seat, and still not have enough?

Not only was his extra legroom not enough, not only was the space below my seat insufficient… His legs were actually invading the legroom of the seat in front of him!

Was he the tallest man on Earth? The sleeping passenger wasn’t exceptionally tall. The fact was that somehow he just spilled out of his seat as if he was a liquid, and diffused all over the floor.

If you are a passenger of size, you will face a series of challenges on the plane. To handle them well, read our dedicated guide to flying while fat! If you're afraid of being seated next to a plus-size passenger, use these tips to defend your personal space! And if you're aspire to become a member of the cabin crew, learn everything about plus-size flight attendants!

Making your own “extra legroom”

Example number two. On my Jetstar Pacific flight from Phu Quoc Island to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, an incredibly ugly female leg sneaked onto my armrest.

Unpedicured in-your-face toenails could make one puke even on firm ground. People go to schools to handle this for a reason! It should not be something any civilian can handle!

Passemger seated behind in the plane is resting her heavily non-pedicured leg on the armrest of the passenger in front, photo by Ivan Kralj
This is almost NSFW: rightfully so, you cannot zoom into this picture!

But how to approach the issue when you are in a confined space with no possibility to run away?

In my case, luckily the flight was short, and the leg appeared just before the landing, so I decided not to confront the female passenger behind me.

But how would you handle this on a long flight? If the alternative to not seeing this unpleasant sight is getting into a conflict, and maybe even winning it, is that truly a win? Or would you spend the rest of your flight replaying the quarrel in your head?

To tell the truth, this was not the only time I experienced close encounters with Vietnamese feet. Find out about my crazy bus adventure in the collection of the biggest WTF moments of my travels!

The preferred seat may come as an extra expense on top of your flight ticket, but that's just one of many junk fees airlines tax you with. Check them all out!

Benefits of sitting at the back of a plane

These two flights with Lufthansa and Jetstar Pacific did not only reconfirm that the last seats on flights are the best airplane seats.

They also reminded me how important is online check-in. Never ever leave the choice of your seat row to the fortune of the airport check-in!

And here is why the supposedly least attractive seats at the back of the plane should be on the top of your list!

1. When seated in the last seat row, there is no one sitting behind you!

Don’t you just hate it when somebody’s knees are poking your ribs through the seatback throughout the entire flight? This can be annoying even when in a cinema and someone is constantly pushing their feet against your seatback.

Plane seats are not known for the greatest sturdiness, so if the annoying passenger behind you can be avoided, why would you think twice about sitting in the rear of a plane?

For some people, the seclusion of the last row presents an opportunity to misbehave. Learn all you need to know about the mile high club!Β 

2. The chance is nobody else wants to sit in the last row of seats!

Being well-marketed as the least attractive on the plane, last-row seats often stay empty.

On the smaller planes, certain portions even get reserved for the cabin crew, who don’t necessarily use them.

So if you hit it big, it could just mean that instead of sleeping on a reclining seat, you could actually spread yourself over two or three empty seats that do not recline!

Sitting in the back of the plane may bring the luxury of a proper rest!

3. Small children are sitting far away from you!

Family designated spaces in the plane are often at the bulkhead seats which face the partitions that divide different sections of the aircraft.

These have no seats in front of them, so if you opted for bulkhead seats, you indeed could have gotten more legroom.

But also your first neighbors might be babies and toddlers sitting on their parents’ laps. Bulkhead seats sometimes have extra oxygen bags for children, so this is the place where the airline will put the crying babies.

Enjoy your extra legroom! I can’t hear anything from the last row!

4. No blocking in between the drinks carts!

Yes, sitting just in front of the toilet may be annoying if people start piling up in front of it as if the bathroom might run away.

However, it is even more annoying to have to go to pee, while being blocked in between the carts from which the flight attendants serve the drinks to the passengers. That sound of the coffee hitting the cup, makes you want to pee even more! And the toilet is so far!

Sitting in the last row means you will always be the first in the queue for the loo. Wait, did I say queue? What is a queue?

5. The plane seat in the last row is the safest one!

The last, but not the least important answer to the question “What is the safest seat on a plane?”!

From when I’ve heard the conversation of a pilot talking to his civilian friends about how he always chooses the last seat row when he flies in a private arrangement, because “the last rows come with the safest seats on a plane”, I follow this advice whenever I can.

Sure, airlines will tell you this is not true, as then everybody would just want to sit in the back of an airplane.

However, statistics do confirm that after a flight crash, the construction of the aircraft’s tail will be the least damaged. Therefore it is not that unusual that even the flight recorder, commonly known as a black box, is placed in the plane’s tail section, where it is more likely to survive a severe crash.

JAT flight attendant Vesna Vuković survived the plane crashing from the 10.000 meters height not because she jumped out of it with a parachute, but because she was sitting firmly next to the supposedly repulsive toilet section.

In-flight safety starts with properly using the airplane seat belt. Learn how that little device can save your life!

Of course, there are various arguments one should take into account when choosing a plane seat. Consider some of them mentioned in this video!

The best airplane seats – Conclusion

To find the best airplane seats, we have to take into account various priorities passengers might have.

Sometimes, it is hard to reconcile practicality, comfort, safety, and personal preferences when we are forced to enter a confined space and share it with strangers for a couple of hours or more.

If you would take 100 passengers, you would get 100 different airline seat reviews. So searching for the best airplane seats always involves making certain compromises.

You might have a backlash to the controversial idea of picking the last seat as a first choice. But you will not be able to make an informed decision without ever experiencing it.

Choose the last row of seats next time you fly! After all, sitting in the back of a plane won’t kill you if you try! Pun intended.

Do you know what is the most dangerous place at the airport? Check here what you need to know about the airport security check! It might surprise you!

Did I convince you to consider sitting at the back of the plane?
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Cover photo - free vector design by:
Ivan Kralj


Award-winning journalist and editor from Croatia

  1. Very interesting article. We always used to avoid the back of the plane because you are supposed to get all the germs from the other passengers. Have you heard that one before?

    1. Thank you!
      No, actually I haven’t heard this argument before. Mainly I hear the argument of ‘smaller space’ and also turbulencies might affect you more when closer to the plane’s tail than for instance if you are seated at its middle part… But germs… I am pretty sure they are everywhere in the plane πŸ™‚ Don’t touch what you don’t need to touch, and properly wash your hands – rule that should keep us safe everywhere.

  2. Great view point and gave me some things to consider. I sat in the last row once and hated it. It was empty, which was a plus, but the seat didn’t recline and was positioned at an angle stiffer than the other other seats, so my back was aching by the time I landed.

    1. Yes, everything has pros and cons. But still, I prefer a seat that doesn’t recline over a seat that reclines according to the wishes of the passenger behind, who pushes it with his legs and reclines it πŸ™‚

  3. oh I didn’t know about some thing this! Feet sticking through the seat is vile, I am one of those horrible people who just push it back with my elbow! Will opt for back row next time!

    1. Yes, but then, pushing away produces conflicts. And I fell the tension that is being created then is still an uncomfortable situation that changes the way how we feel about the particular travel.
      But good! I support people who confront! Someone has to teach the bastards a lesson πŸ˜‰

  4. Very valid points. There would be just one more aspect against chosing the last row: these seats you can often not lean back – which makes a longer flight rather uncomfortable… But otherwise I completely agree. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, I know. But I took that into account and found it a lesser evil to stay in the last row πŸ™‚
      Also, often nowadays, those seats still do lean back, so it’s a gamble I am willing to play

  5. Some great reasons! Lately I’ve had some annoying people behind me in planes. I might just have to give this a try on my next flight.

  6. You’ve made a compelling case for the last row! I like the idea of not being trapped by the food trolley, but I’ve found that the turbulence seems a lot more bumpy in that last row. Also, I am now one of those travellers with the child, so I’ll be stuck down the middle / or the bulkhead anyway (at least for the next 15 years). Great post – I’ll be sharing this with my followers.

    1. Thanks a lot, Ali!
      I agree everyone should have their preferences. After all, if I wouldn’t believe in that, then I wouldn’t write an article about it. Because if it would happen that suddenly everyone wants to sit in the last row, I would lose my favorite seat, so I would be working against what I believe in, hahhaha!
      So don’t promote it too much to your followers πŸ™‚
      I am kidding, all shares are welcomed! Me grateful.

  7. Some people do disgusting things with their feet. My understanding is that the safest seats are within 6 rows of the emergency exit. So the last row would have this covered as well. Still not keep on taking the last row though.

    1. I think it is a different definition of safety… Sure, being close to the emergency exits raises your chances to get out of the burning plane first. But in general, it does not make those seats any safer in terms of experiencing a plane crash. Well, I would assume that at least.
      Where did you learn about 6 rows rule, and what was the argumentation?

  8. In my books last row is worst ever seats on the plane. My reasons:
    1. Unless you manage to be first passenger at gate you will be getting to your seat for ages. Even worse when disembarking – you GUARANTEED to be last person who leave the plane.
    2. Toilets with associated queue, smell and slamming doors. Nuff said.
    3. Often last seats have very limited recline.
    4. You will be served last – not only you will not be able to snooze earlier, but also well so often you do not even have a”choice” chicken or beef.
    5. If it happens to be turbulence tail of the plane is the last place where I want to be.
    6. Because of bending of plane fuselage toward the tail last row often shifted and you cannot lean on window to snooze. Plus sometimes you cannot put your feet under seat in the front because your seat is “in between”. Also overhead storage tend to be smaller toward the end of the plane and if you arrive later you may find that all already occupied and you have to store your stuff ten rows apart from you.

    1. Hi, Sam!

      Thanks for your engaging comments. I agree with some but disagree with the others…

      According to my traveling experience:

      1. I am never getting to the last seat for ages. I come in and sit down. You see, I prefer to enter the plane the last, as I don’t see the point in sitting in a seat while hordes of other passengers are still getting in. So my tactic always includes entering through the boarding gate the last, when most of the passengers are already sitting, and waiting for the rest of the latecomers and me to board πŸ™‚ So my boarding is, you see, very quick. Also, entering the plane last leaves you the option to seamlessly change your seat to any other empty one, in case you like it. As for disembarking, being the last person to leave the plane is really not guaranteed. It really depends on the plane, but many open their last doors too. But even here you present it as if disembarking the last is a tragedy – I am the person who deliberately sits until others are crowding in the aisle (and wait for minutes in contortionist poses). I actually do get up when almost everyone already disembarked. If there is a bus transfer to the airport building, they still have to wait for me, don’t they? So what was their rush actually benefitting from? Am I late for somewhere? I will wait for my bag on the baggage belt anyway, so trust me, traveling relaxed is much better than rushing. We are all on the same journey, and nobody comes earlier. I am actually often the first person to leave the airport building! There are many other tricks for ensuring this, and maybe they deserve a special article. Thanks for inspiring me to make one!
      2. True, people waiting in the aisle, in the toilet queue, leaning on your seat, is not fun. Also, it’s not fun if it smells. But also, this is more of an urban legend. Toilet smells leaking out don’t happen as often as paranoically we believe. But even if it does happen, well, no choice can be perfect (flight attendants can solve this problem, by the way, the same way as they solve the problems of passengers leaking rear winds in the middle of the plane ;)). There is always plus and minus for every decision one makes.
      3. I wouldn’t say “often”. I would say that last seat sometimes has limited recline. But then again, this is what I confirmed in the article as well. And still, I think it’s a minus worth of disregarding. Well, in case it’s really important for a certain passenger, I guess he/she should not disregard it. Personally, I never recline my seat, even when I sit in the middle of the plane. It is just not polite towards the passenger behind you, and his/her knees pressing on your seat can, by the way, be equally rude to you!
      4. Being served last is also the legend. Often last rows are being served first (well, depending on the number of carts going through the plane). Then again, ordering a special meal is a secure way for being served first. And yes, I do get my meal first usually πŸ˜‰
      5. It is true turbulences affect the tail of the plane more than its body. I guess my stomach is in good shape to disregard this disadvantage too. IN CASE there are turbulences. But then, in case there are turbulences, and one is sensitive to those, I don’t think that turbulence in the middle of the plane is a dream come through either. Turbulences are turbulences. If you dislike them, you will have an equal problem anywhere in the plane.
      6. Not being able to lean on the window means there is more space around you, no? That’s a good point in my dictionary. Also, having problems with feet under the seat in the front is also a very particular problem of certain planes. For this, the solution is Always check your plane map if you are sensitive to different standard seats. As for the overhead storage, it is true that these parts are often used by flight attendants for storing their own luggage and other aircraft stuff. If it is really important to store your stuff above your head, I guess you should not board the last. I usually store my hand luggage under the seat in front of me anyway (so I can access it more easily, without always having to stand up and depend on turbulence). Oh, did I say I store it under the seat in front of me? So how do my feet AND my hand luggage fit into this mythically restricted space? I am 185 cm tall by the way!

      There, my choice of preferring the last seat has not been shaken yet. But thank you, Sam, you really pointed out many valid concerns travelers have, and I believe this brainstorm will produce more articles on this matter on Keep reading and inputting!

  9. Flying with a toddler in 2 weeks and for now the back side on the plane is empty. Looks very fascinating as it will give my toddler lots of space to play and less people getting annoyed. But ……..

    1. Generally, first rows have much more space for kids to play. That’s why airlines usually reserve them for families.
      Well, actually it depends on the flight and the type of the plane…
      But good idea for “not annoying other passengers” is probably to give enough content to your toddler during the flight. Try to look for resources online on how to keep him occupied. I know that the peace of other passengers will reflect on your own sense of relaxation too. And it is nice indeed you care enough about it.
      I hope this helps!

  10. I will be flying from New York to Idaho in December with my daughter. When I bought tickets I was unable to reserve seats, but since my daughter is 5, Delta is usually pretty accommodating if you call far enough in advance and just ask that you be placed together. We will be taking 6 planes total and the woman on the phone placed us in the last row for 5 of them…the second to last on one because the last row was already taken. I was sort of dreading all that back-row time, but you have me convinced it may be okay! (I’ve flown with her before and we’ve never had extra space like you mentioned above, so that shouldn’t be an issue). Thanks!

    1. Oh wow! Let us know after December if you’ll have a regret that you made the decision to follow this idea πŸ™‚
      I hope you’ll have a nice trip! Safe travels!

  11. And if you sit in the last row, nobody is crowding you to depart the plane. That is definitely one of my pet peeves. Thank you for the excellent story and advice.

    1. I’m glad you liked it, Connie!
      And, speaking of crowding when exiting – don’t you just love it when they open the rear doors too, and last row people are the first to exit? πŸ™‚

  12. I actually had no clue that there were certain areas reserved for people with kids. I have a 7 year old and have never been seated there. Interesting. But since my kiddo is pretty good at just playing on her tablet or reading the whole flight she doesnt need room to play. And the fact I’m only 5′ and fit in any space on the plane i think next time i will try the back seat. Sorry! I promise my kid wont bug you lol! I always feel so bad when i look around and see these ppl that are 6 ft tall trying to cram into airplane seat. Looks really uncomfortable!

    1. Well, those mentioned seats are not reserved per se for families with kids, as anyone can book them.
      But if they are available, check-in personnel will definitely try to move the family to the front.
      As for your kid in the last row, no worries πŸ™‚
      I apologize if it came out like that, but kids are really not my worst enemies (quite the contrary, I’d say). Unless they enter the category “spoiled brat”, but even that refers to their parent more than to the kids themselves. Personally, I bare with baby’s screams somehow through the shorter flights, while intercontinental ones offer entertainment systems which fill my ears with other sounds. Thank you, technology!

  13. Some other advantages:

    – You can recline anytime you want…. immediately after take-off…. πŸ˜›

    – Last seats embark first , this can be an advantage on fuller flights so you have enough time to find a spot for your trolley. Also if there is not enough space for your handluggage, the handluggage will be always in front of you. So no need to fight your way back to get it

    – some passengers use the in-flight touch screens like a drum pad…. No issues with that in the last row

    – usually there is some space behind the seat where you can put the laptop bag.

    – easier to grab a snack in the galley πŸ™‚

    If you don’t want the last row a good alternative is to take the last seat before one of the bulkheads.

    Plus if you take the middle row aisle seat, there are two exits to the aisles….which means less disturbance from other passengers who need to go to the bathroom

    1. I love these add-on arguments! Thanks so much for contributing! They are great!

      And strategic position close to the galley is really worth considering.
      I think most of the passengers from the other parts of the plane don’t even realize they can grab some snack there πŸ˜‰
      It’s fine, they leave more for us in the “bad seats” lol!

  14. Last row aye?? Mm I have always heard the last row isnt the safest and has the most turbulence. It has its plus where no one sits behind you. However its noisy and the toilet is too close by.

    1. Hah, I guess we disagree then πŸ™‚
      Except on the plus you mention.
      I understand that the last seat in flight is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are certainly quite important benefits of sitting at the back of a plane. Naturally, there are benefits of sitting in other parts of the seat map too.
      What to say, I made my mathematics, and the last row is still among my favorites.
      I am glad not everyone shares the same opinion, as not being a popular choice actually makes the last row available for the rest of us!

  15. Delta serves last row first since it takes to long to reach the back plus good interaction with flight attendant. They were very accommodating to give me extra service.

    1. Thanks for your input, Rickey!
      It’s always nice to hear about the hidden, unwritten perks of making a specific seat choice, especially when it’s the back of a plane, my favorite too.
      I haven’t flown Delta, but I experienced a similar service on other airlines, so while not a rule, the idea of priority seats is obviously somewhat flexible.

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