I always like to pick my seats for my flights.  I have a tendency to pick a seat on the RIGHT side of the plane, even if it may not always make sense. However, sometimes there may be reasons why sitting on the left side of the plane may have its advantages. For example:

1. Potentially Better View

You might be able to see some famous landmarks as the plane heads towards its destination.  The side you choose sometimes matters as one side might offer a slightly better view.  I still remembered flying into Geneva and seeing water jetting from Jet d’Eau (ironically enough, while sitting on the left side of the plane, since that was the best available and together seats for our party).

It was only after the trip that I realized how fortuitous I was to see that, since it turned out the Jet d’Eau was non-operational during our stay.  That view from the wings ended up being the only time I saw Jet d’Eau in all its glory.  Would I have gotten as good a view if I had been on the right side?  I’m not so sure.

2. Faster Exit from the Plane

Plane exits are located on the left side.  If you are in a hurry to leave the plane, having a seat on the left side is usually a better bet.  You don’t need to merge into traffic coming in from the right.  At least this seems to hold true based on my experiences.

Research Findings

I always thought my preference for a seat on the right side of the plane has to do with comfort.  As a right handed person, I tend to lean my (right) hand against the window when I want to take naps. That just felt natural to me.  It is far less comfortable on the left side.  Apparently, it turned out that is a reason why people choose the right side.  “The research shows that people’s preference as to which side they sit on in an airplane is dictated by our mind’s rightward bias in representing the real world”.

Interestingly, for an upcoming flight, I picked a seat on the left side of the plane. The reason?  The cabin offers a 1-2 seating configuration.  Apparently, my preference for the 1 seater side overrode my default preference to sit on the right side of the plane. Take that, right side preference!

The real takeaway?  If extrapolated from the study, it seemed that you should always put on the right hand side whatever you want people to focus on. It doesn’t mean people will opt for it (in the same way that other preferences can still override the default), but they would be more inclined to pay a little more attention to it.

Kind of fascinating behavioral stuff, actually.

Are you a creature of habit?  Do you always book on a seat on the left or the right side of the plane, or does it not matter to you generally?