Rookie Wednesday: Picking the best seats on Delta jets

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Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.


One would think this is just the most simple thing in the world, but in fact it isn’t. Delta really does have a a ton of different aircraft and different models within each family of planes. Delta has a fairly standard product, but even then some of the aircraft have great bulkhead seats, others the exit row really is miles better than the bulkhead.

So in a rookie way, the “best seat” on an aircraft is a subjective choice. I am going to look at the choices this way. Are you a family of 1, 2 or more? Are you tall, or like me, a bit wide. Or are you tall and leg room is all that is important.

To me I have a list of things that can make a huge impact on the travel experience. See what you think and to me it is amazing how many factors come into play and why seat selection really is so important:

1 – Location on plane
2 – Leg room
3 – Ability to sit together
4 – Width of seat
5 – Softness of seat
6 – Quietness of area
7 – Windows (or lack of them)
8 – View from seat
9 – Overhead space
10 – Choice of food
11 – Nearness to bathrooms
12 – Recline
13 – Cabin (area) feel
14 – Arm rests
15 – Access to power

Have I missed anything? Wow. You see why I wanted to “rookie” this post. So how do you now make sure you get the best of the list above? does a pretty good job of showing the seat maps, but not all the pro’s & cons.


The two sites I always check are SeatGuru and the other is SeatMaestro. Both have been revamped recently and have very good seat maps of Delta Jets. They also have some seat photos from readers and reader feedback. Some of the data, IMO, is not 100% right and some seats they warn to be careful of, I love and others they should have recommended to AVOID, but that is personal more than anything else.

seat guru delta 767-300 new seat map

So with all this data, what choices should you make? To me it is simple. The most important feature to me over all else is leg room. So I take that and then work down the list. For you, other factor or factors may trump that. Also be aware that on some delta jets the front row is behind 1st class and you can stretch your leg into 1st while on some there is a hard wall there and you are very limited (same goes for some row 1 seats in 1st class as well).

The other major issue is day or night flights. You may be willing to put up with more noise and people on a day flight, but that would clearly be disturbing on an overnight.

I would pay close attention to windows if that is an issue for you. There are many seats where the windows are either missing or miss aligned so they are hard to see out of. If you are the kind that gets motion sick unless you can see out then please pay close attention when a seat map shows this is the case (for example the WORST 1st class seat on a 777 is 10A – window behind you and nothing but a view of the galley).

Other little musings. Another major issue for me, and many others, is shoulder width. That is the space you have at shoulder level. How can this be an issue? For me, and maybe I am unique in this, I want RIGHT shoulder space. I am right handed and for me to have a cramped right hand side makes me crazy. So, I sit on the “BC” aisle side most times so I can have my right free into the aisle. I also like a seat where the armrest can fold up. Just makes the space much better.

Last thing is what happens when Delta has an equipment change and moves you from your favorite seat that you did all this work to pick. Do you have any right to gripe or ask for a change? Simple answer is NO! You paid for transport not for that perfect seat. But, if you make a case to @DeltaAssit they can many times move you to a much better seat when you explain what happened (not from coach to biz, but EC is often possible even if you do not have a right to that due you)!

There is my 2 cents. Please shout out as your feedback may help another reader either enjoy the trip or wish they had picked another seat – René

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  1. Even though there is tons of legroom I stay away from the seats right next to the exit doors because they tend to get very cold in flight.

  2. Seats are big deal to me also, because I’m a big guy. Whenever I have an issue with seat assignment, I always try my gate agent. They can do things that even the ticket-counter agents can’t. I make sure I’m extra-special nice and ask very politely, and only when it appears they are not busy. They usually appreciate you taking a calm and patient approach and are always willing to help. I have even scored upgrades I really didn’t deserve. Never hurts to ask….

  3. PM here, for us that usually get upgrade, I like to sit towards the front. Not because I want to get off the plane first, but because I want to order lunch/dinner first! Nothing worse than the FA telling you only thing left is a Turkey Sandwich when you wanted the salad.

  4. There is no worse bait-and-switch than scoring a BC or EC bulkhead seat only to find that hard wall. I find seatguru will recommend the seat, but specify that there is no place to store your bag, which is a tipoff that the wall is there.

  5. Great post! This is hugely important for me, and as (only) FO, seat selection is the biggest benefit, IMO, of my status. I always start with exit row. I prefer window for the view and choose the second exit row, if applicable, so I can recline. If the window exit is on a plane in which those seats are thinner (I’m talking to you, 737), then I choose exit aisle. At check-in, I then check EC availability. If there is a seat available in the first row of EC on a jet with no bulkhead (MD-88) then I go with that – window only if I am carrying on (for floor storage) and aisle only of I checked my bag. I prefer quiet, and that makes seat selection a crapshoot. Typically, in the exit rows and EC, people are respectfully quiet. Exception: businessmen flying together in the exit row or families in EC. No always, but often. Once I was in EC front row, and a guy in First was talking so loud the whole plane could hear. Awkward. All of this to hold onto hopes for an upgrade. I usually just slip by being the last upgraded when it happen, so I always sit in the front row of First. Even with the bulkhead wall, I’ll take it!!

  6. Ok- NECK POSITION. Why, oh why do planes have such an ergonomically incorrect seat? Was the first plane designed by a very tall person and ever after the seat design has copied the forward bump at the top of the seat? I use a pillow here, a pillow there, to keep from getting a neck ache. The pillows make for less leg room and slip down whenever I lean forward. Talk about awkward!

    Side issue: what is the protocol on leaning your seat backwards when it’s food serving time?

  7. @Nichole – what a great suggestion for something to consider! Yes! Some do like the side to sleep on in EC & coach. As to your side issue, oh my can we get a firestorm going with that one. I am all for no more than 50% back during food service in EC & Coach. After that, all the way back – IMO! (yikes)!

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