July 10, 2016

Business Class Seat Selection Strategy

Selecting the "right" seats can make a huge difference in terms of comfort on a flight.  Especially during an international long haul.  Across 10+ hours, you are going to have to get up to use the restroom multiple times, you're going to want to get some sleep (thus minimal light/noise is key) and you're  probably going to want to look at the window at least once.  Balancing all three in first class isn't really an issue given that most first class cabins are configured in a 1-2-1 configuration.  Meaning if you want a window, that's no problem.  Everyone has direct aisle access and crews are typically great at ensuring the cabin stays quiet and dark during sleeping hours.

In business class, it's a bit of a different story.  While airlines are improving their cabin setup to provide aisle access for everyone, there is still a push to cram as many seats into each plane as possible.

Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class

For our upcoming trip to the Maldives, we'll be flying two different Turkish Airlines configurations.  The first segment (from Houston to Istanbul) will be flown by a Boeing 777-300ER.  The second segment (from Istanbul to Male) will be flown by an Airbus A330-300.  While we've flown Turkish's 777 before, this will be our first time flying their A330.

You can't select seats on Turkish online so you need to call.  In my experience, the agents are friendly, competent, and the entire process can take less than 5 minutes.

Turkish Airlines Business Class Seat
On the 777 segment, the flight time is around 11 hours.  The flight leaves around 9PM and arrives around 5PM.  So our plan will be to board with pajamas already on, eat once airborne, enjoy a bit of a movie, then get to sleep so we can arrive in Istanbul as rested as possible.  Unfortunately, this cabin is setup in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Seat Map
Really the only choice is a window and aisle combo.  One of us will just need to step over the other to use the restroom while sleeping.  There are business class cabins separated by a galley.  The rear cabin has three rows vs. four in the first cabin.  When I called Turkish, I asked for window/aisle in rows 5 or 6 which is tin he more intimate 3 row cabin.  Row 6 was available and I selected seats J/K.
Turkish Airlines A330-300 Seat Map
On the A330, the cabin is setup in a staggered 2-2-2 configuration.  The 7.5 hour flight leaves at 2AM local time and lands around 12PM Male time.  In terms of our body clock, that will be 5PM and 1AM.  So getting to sleep immediately may be a bit challenging.  We'll want to do everything possible to get to sleep so I wanted something in the middle section (D/E) which gives us both direct aisle access.  Only row 1D/1E was available and the agent was able to block us in those seats.  We're sacrificing the gorgeous views on approach to Male but I figured we'll get enough of that during our transfer to the resort.

While this is a fairly lengthy explanation, the entire process took less than 15 minutes.  That includes validating the aircraft type, looking the seat map up on Seat Guru, and calling Turkish to reserve the seats.  The "right seat" in business class can really make or break the experience.  Hopefully my thought process can aide you in your seat selection during your next business class flight!

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