The art of choosing seats on flights to Hawaii
Picking the best seats on a long flight to Hawaii can be a challenge. That is, if you pay a high enough fare and choose an airline that offers advance seat selection. It’s an important part of the airline ticketing process and choosing wisely can partly determine how much you’ll enjoy your 5+ hour flight to Hawaii.
It’s always nice to travel with extra legroom or to upgrade using points or cash to premium economy or business class, but it’s not always possible due to the affordability or availability. As we mentioned, premium seats in Hawaii are in much higher demand than ever before, and people are willing to shell out the extra cash to be comfortable. So the only option may be to select the best economy seats available, especially for such a long duration.
Airlines, including Hawaiian, now charge extra for some regular economy class seats.
Earlier this week, we wrote Hawaiian is adding a $19-23 fee for many economy class seats. Airlines other than Southwest allow you to choose your seat. But there may be a surcharge for seat assignments, especially on the cheapest tickets and for seats near the front, as well as aisle or window seats. But when the alternative is to sit in the middle, or not sit at all with your fellow travelers, it can be a real disappointment at the start of your Hawaii vacation.
Everyone has their own opinion on what is best.
The seats that belong to one class are the same as the others, in terms of physical dimensions. But in other respects they may not be equal, as experienced travelers will surely attest.
One thing to decide is whether you want an aisle seat or a window seat, or if, when traveling in pairs, will one of you accept a middle seat? Also note the distance from the toilets in terms of potential convenience as well as inconvenience.
Do you prefer to sit near the front of the plane?
We certainly both do. We like not seeing all the other people on the plane. It doesn’t really make sense, but somehow it feels less claustrophobic. Plus, it’s great to be among the first off the plane upon arrival in Hawaii. When you have a connection en route, sitting forward helps reduce worries about a missed flight.
Will you be able to store your hand luggage easily?
It is a real concern. And it’s not always easy to understand because it involves both where you’re seated and the airline’s boarding plan. Sometimes also, bins hung near the bulkheads will be used by the flight attendants. Generally, sitting closer to the backrest gives you more access to overhead storage, depending on when you board.
Two-seater seats in economy class are becoming somewhat rare.
Airlines serving Hawaii have switched to more single-aisle, narrow-body aircraft for the majority of their flights. These are almost exclusive 3-seater seats. Check when booking to see if some flights might still be on jumbo jets. These are offered by route and flight by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines only operate narrow-body aircraft to Hawaii.
Aisle and window seats are now monetized.
Airlines know we hate middle seats and they are fully monetizing window and aisle seats whenever possible. Even on planes with two-person seats, airlines will try to charge extra for these sections whenever possible.
This old trick no longer works.
In a three-seat plane, an old trick was to book in an open row, even better towards the back, and then select window and aisle seats, leaving the middle seat open. When the plane was not full, this often allowed two people to share three seats. But with airlines occupying almost all the seats, this is unlikely to happen any longer.
But that old trick still works.
When traveling with a companion and neither of you want to sit in a middle seat, many will opt for adjacent seats in the aisle. We did it ourselves. We had a comment about this practice from Ted, who said: “An annoying trend I’ve noticed is that before when 2 people were traveling they usually took aisle/middle or window/window seats. environment. What happens now is that each person takes their place in the aisle facing each other.
How to check the best seats on your flight to Hawaii.
Some seat locations are simply more comfortable than others. Depending on the aircraft, seats may include more or less legroom, and some seats in front of the exit rows may not even recline. There are other issues too, like the fixed armrests between the seats. Seat Guru and Seat Maestro are two websites we use to check seats on all aircraft. We like to check both to see if they give the same results. You will enter the date and flight in most cases or may need to identify the specific aircraft type assigned to your flight. Both websites show you a representation of the seating plan, with indications of which seats are better and why, as well as which ones you should avoid. You can also check seat width and seat pitch using these websites, which is especially helpful if, like editor Rob, you’re 6′ 4″ tall.
Choose your seats as soon as possible.
This gives you the best selection of seats to choose from. Ideally, this happens in the same process as buying flights. If that’s not possible and you need to get seats 24 hours before departure, set an alarm so you’ll be there at the exact time you can check in and not a minute later.
Twenty-four hours before travel is also the perfect time to change seats if you’ve booked one that isn’t your favorite or if you’re hoping for an upgrade. When that doesn’t work either, the last choice is to get to the airport early to see what’s possible.
What are your airplane seat tips and tricks?