Selecting a seat on flights is fraught with danger, for choosing the wrong one could result in hours of discomfort. Some believe exit row seats are far and away the best ones to choose on a flight, and the airlines agree – usually charging a higher price for them.

Everyone seems blinded by the promise of extra legroom, as it seems like a no brainer of epic proportions. I have tried these seats and there are some rather glaring downsides to sitting in some of them.

Exit Row Seats – The Good

Those who go for the extra leg room are correct in their assumption. There is often a great deal more room at the exit compared to other seats in economy class, as this section from a KLM Boeing 737 seating plan shows.

There really is little to complain about here. You get extra room and a briefing from the cabin crew about the operation of the exits as well, which should make you feel special.

Exit Row Seats – The Bad

On some airlines, there is an exit row located right at the front of the cabin. This means plenty of room in front of you at the forward door, as you can see on this Ryanair 737 seat map..

The issue here is that boarding passengers will be in your face at the beginning of the flight, not to mention bumping you with bags, especially in the C seat. The flight attendants will also be eying you during take-off and landing as they sit directly in front of there, though some mind not mind that!

Exit Row Seats – The Ugly

There is a triple whammy for economy class passengers on long-haul flights who select exit row seats. This is illustrated very well by this portion of an American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER seating plan. First, the exit row passengers have no window, which is not uncommon on the large aircraft in these seats.

Next up, these seats are close to the toilets and it’s never fun having a queue of people standing beside you, plus the door areas on long flights tend to be places where other passengers will appear for an inflight stretch or to burp babies. Not so chill for those sitting there then. Speaking of chill, the final note is that it can be rather draughty there and nobody needs to sit in a cold breeze you can’t turn off for 12 hours, do they?

Overall Thoughts

Exit row seats have the most leg room on board a flight, that is a given. However, you might want to stick to them more on short flights rather than long flights, unless you’re a particularly sound sleeper or don’t mind people encroaching in your space.

For myself, I like the exit seats on short flights as there nothing not to love. On long flights, I’d rather a standard seat as the seat pocket is handy for one. By the way, all the seat map excerpts are from Aerolopa, which do the best online seating plans. They are all to scale and cover a bunch of airlines, which is very nice.

Do you regularly select exit row seats? What are your thoughts on the benefits versus downsides? Any recommendations? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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