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Blog - Intercontinental Flight? How to Choose Your Seat and Other Useful Information

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During recent years, international flights have improved a lot: they’ve become faster, transfers easier and bureaucracy, in some cases, is simpler. They’ve also given more attention to comfortable seats, leisure and meals.

Anyway, we cannot deny that a very long flight can take up 1 whole day and, or in some cases, even more. This is obviously stressful. The stress may still be worthy though, if you are going to reach dream destinations at the other side of the world, where you will have your well-deserved holidays – time to relax and  have unforgettable experiences.


Coron, Philippines. Photo: Tropical Experience.

Some of these “tips” may already sound quite obvious for the most expert travellers. But maybe some of you never had such a long travel before or they hadn’t had one recently so these might be of help.

Once realized that is worth to have the flight, let’s imagine you are travelling from Paris to Manila (Our video of Manila here), the capital of the Philippines, and let’s see what we should consider. Let’s assume we have an 18-hour flight, 2 hours of which are dedicated to a stopover in an intermediate airport (there are no Paris-Manila direct flights). It might be helpful to keep the following in mind:

1. By the Window: Nice, But How Often Would You Stand up?


The sky above Manila (by Tropical Experience)

Many people like to stay near the window to enjoy the stunning view. This is notably more frequent among those people who don’t fly too often: they want to admire the sky above the clouds. Why? Of course, because it’s beautiful!

You also need to take into account something else: how often do you want or need to stand up? If you often get up to go to the toilet or perhaps to have some “stroll”, consider you will need to let 2 other people stand up every time too. Here, it is upto you: if you are not shy to excuse yourself everytime, just go and get the seat by the window. It’s be better though if the other 2 people sitting near you are your friends or relatives.

2. Corridor / Aisle Seat: Advantages and Disadvantages

The corridor seat has the opposite advantage of the window seat. If you want to often stand up, this is the ideal seat for you since you don’t need to disturb anyone and can stand up whenever you like. Sometimes you could also do some arms or legs stretching towards the empty space.

Obviously you will have the opposite disadvantage of the point 1: you are the one who would need to get up to let other people pass! Furthermore, think that once in a while you could be hit by people walking by the aisle, the cart with meals passing by and so on, especially if you happen to fall asleep in a diagonal position. Also your legs / feet may disturb other passengers passing through the corridor.

3. And the Central Seat?


Bohol Tarsier. Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services.

What about the central seat? Well, personally, I think there are very few reasons to voluntarily choose it if you are travelling alone. If you are traveling as a couple, one of the two should get it if you don’t want a stranger sitting in betwen you two! By the way,  it can be a useful choice if you need to feel…protected!

4. Safety Exit

Seats near the Safety exit / Emergency Exit are a perfect treat for tall people, since you will have more leg space, which is not bad at all. But consider some other factors: first of all, you need to be able to fluently speak English language to sit there. Plus, especially if there are no seats in front of you, you risk not having the TV (a great help for the very long flights). Now, in most of airplanes, as for my experience, have TV that can be pulled out from a side of the seats…but not all, so there’s still risk! You should also consider that these seats are often chosen by or even given to passengers travelling with infants or toddlers: they are very cute but sometimes they can be quite noisy neighbours!

5. Which Row?

The choice of the row, in my opinion, is not that important and I never found so much differences. Maybe I would avoid, if possible, those ones near the toilet because of too much “traffic” of people. At the same time, if you’d need to go to the toilet often or  if you are particularly lazy, you could like to minimize the time of the transfer from your seat to the toilet.

6. Which Class Level?


Ortigas, Manila. Read here what to do in Manila. Foto: Tropical Experience Travel Services.

Of course, if you can afford to travel on a class level higher than economy / budget, your travel experience will change. For instance, better menu choices of your meals and your seats will look (and feel) more like small beds. Generally, you will have comfort and more space for yourself. Some companies even offer private cabins. Anyway, the price is higher: it depends on your possibilities and your priorities in terms of expenditures.

7. Accessories to Bring on the Airplane


Foto: Tropical Experience.

Airlines offer already a mini-kit for the duration of the travel – with blanket, eye masks, earplugs and sometimes also socks. If one of these items is particularly important for you, bring it yourself to be 100% sure that you will have it with you (airlines have different policies and some of those mentioned items could be missing). You could also like to bring one of those circular pillows for neck support. Electronic accessories are not fundamental, since it is possible to watch TV and listen to music on the airplane already (also the headset is supplied). Some would want to entertain themselves with their own selection of music or movies during the flight so they bring their own electronic gadgets. If you can manage to read while flying, you can bring a good book to kill time, but take into account that lights will be off during sleeping hours and you’d have to swirch on the reading lamp for your seat.

8. Duration


Foto: Tropical Experience.

The flight will take…as long as it has to take. If you can easily sleep, you will barely realize you had a flight. If, like me, you cannot sleep much, it is your chance to watch several movies. 3 movies can already fill in an entire intercontinental flight. Take it as a necessary amount of time to stay up in the clouds, to mentally prepare yourself for your trip about to begin (or reminisce about your wonderful vacation if you are flying back home).

If you think about it well, 18-20 hours of trip are not so many (think about how many years Marco Polo needed for his journey to Asia…).

9. Bring a Pen

It might seem something superfluous but, with all the papers and cards where you have to write your data when you arrive or departure, a pen can be very useful. If you don’t have it with you, you could spend a lot of time searching for someone to have it borrowed and to give it back.

10. The Stop Over


Photo: Tropical Experience Travel Services.

While choosing a flight, you will notice that sometimes a stop over is unavoidable, like in the example made above (Paris-Manila). Follow the signboards with written “transfer” and everything will be ok. In most cases your luggage will already reach the final destination directly, so you don’t need to get it during the stop over.

Always verify that you don’t need to get your luggage during the stop over while doing the check-in. This, especially if you booked your trip online on websites combining flights of different companies! In this case, also verify that your second flight will be in the same terminal of the arrival of the first one, especially if those terminals are not connected. It should be said that all these issues (luggage, terminal) could be easily resolved by purchasing your flight directly from one single airline only.

Of course, it would be better to choose solutions with short stop over time, but be careful that it will not be TOO short. If your luggage arrives to the final destination by itself, I personally advise to keep at least 2 hours for the stop over: this because your flight could be late and you could miss the second one if the stopover is too tight (like, 30 minutes only). Plus, a “too” short stopover, and I write this from personal experience, will give you more chances that your luggage will not arrive the final destination at your same time.

Stopovers can be boring if they are long, but nowadays with choices of cafés, book shops, shopping areas etc. all transfer areas are good to chill out places…some even offer the chance to buy a massage service. For purchasing these things, a credit card is the ideal solution, since currencies will be different: to be sure, you can find it useful to carry Euro or US Dollar banknotes and have them changed. Some establishments are flexible as they also accept payments in US Dollars and Euros for their goods and servives. Be careful not to fall asleep too deep during the waiting hours, specially if you are alone: you could miss the departure of your flight. It can help if  you could set (several) alarms on your cell phone.


Enjoy your holiday! Photo: Tropical Experience.

There’s not really much to add! If you never tried to fly before, once you are on board you will realize that everything is more tranquil and organized than what you think. Think also that every year, in the world, 15 million airplanes fly, with 1.2 billion travellers! Averagely, an airplane takes off every two seconds! So, keep calm and travel! Bon Vayage!

(written on July 2015)

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