I’m not sure anyone loves turbulence on the plane. In fact, turbulence can be frightening. However, the reality is that turbulence is no cause for concern! It’s a common part of flying that many people experience each day. Even when it’s at its most severe, research has shown that turbulence is rarely dangerous.
A bumpy ride can range from uncomfortable to downright unsettling, and different parts of the plane feel turbulence more intensely than others.
When the plane that you’re flying on suddenly moves and dips while soaring at 37,000 feet in the air, it’s okay to feel a little bit uneasy.
While turbulence itself is sometimes unavoidable, you can pre-book a seat so that you’re sat in an area of the plane that is less affected by turbulence.
“The smoothest place to sit is over the wings,” commercial pilot Patrick Smith, host of AskThePilot.com said. These seats are close to the plane’s center of lift and gravity.
“The roughest spot is usually the far aft. In the rearmost rows, closest to the tail, the knocking and swaying is more pronounced,” Smith added.
The impact of turbulence is also felt less at the front of the plane because it’s beyond the centre of gravity on the aircraft. Alternatively, turbulence is also less noticeable near the wings of the plane because the wings allow the plane to stay balanced.
There’s no specific rule or data that supports that one aircraft model is better than another at dealing with turbulence. However, generally, the larger the plane, the better it is at absorbing turbulence. For example, due to the sheer size, aircraft like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 are said to be two of the best planes for coping with turbulence.
This is not to say that bigger planes are always better at dealing with turbulence, though. For example, early models of the Boeing 757 — which is one of the largest planes used on short-haul flights — has a history of being susceptible to turbulence.
How to get a seat you want
When it comes to getting the best seats on a plane, it’s all about personal preference. Knowing which seat to choose to avoid turbulence will go a long way, but to make the most of your on-board experience, reviewing seat maps will ensure you get just what you’re looking for, and avoid exactly what takes away from your flying experience. Once you know what seat you want, there are a few ways to increase your chance of getting it.
Basic economy fares typically don’t allow you to select your seat at booking (though most allow you to do so at check-in). If you want to be certain you’ll get the exact seat you need, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to a main economy fare so that you can select your seat when you book.
Booking early also helps ensure you get the seat you want, as the earlier you book, the more options that will be available. Note that some airlines don’t allow you to pre-select your seat at all (like Southwest Airlines—more on that below) while others always charge extra to select seats at booking.
Online auctions can help you score a seat in business class or premium economy on an economy budget. Typically if you are eligible to bid on an upgrade you’ll receive an email from the airline with a link to the bidding site. You can also check Plusgrade, which runs auctions for dozens of airlines. The airline often provides guidance on how to increase your chances of winning. You’ll enter your bid and payment info; if you win, you’ll automatically be charged and will be notified prior to check-in.