I always sit on the left-hand side

I always sit on the left-hand side

I always sit on the left-hand side 800 533 Joe Bleasdale

This week I’m writing all about seats. To start with, I thought I’d talk about one thing I do on every long-haul flight. If I am on a widebody aircraft, I always sit on the left-hand side.


Whenever you board an aircraft, have you ever noticed the jet bridges are always on the left? Why is that?

It’s because the right-hand side of the aircraft is being used by the ground crews. Catering & special cargo are always loaded on the right. On a wide-body aircraft with one jet bridge, you with board through either door 1L – right up at the front, or 2L – slightly further back, usually behind Business class.

The boarding process varies by aircraft, airline and airport. But I have never, ever boarded from the right.

However, the boarding process doesn’t make a great deal of difference in seat selection. It’s actually all about the disembarking process.


The big reason I choose seats furthest left is for the slightly speedier exit you can get. If you’ve been on a 10+ hour flight, most of the time you just want to get off by that point. You’re itching to get to your hotel or final destination. Because a wide-body aircraft has two aisles, the left-hand aisle always has an advantage over the right. That’s because when you disembark, most of the time it is through a single jet bridge. Again, usually at door 1L or 2L. As everybody stands up and shuffles towards the front of the plane, the right-hand side ends up in a choke point as they have to cross through one of the galleys to exit.

What you often see is the left-hand side passengers flowing forward and out of the door, with anyone who was on the right coming off much later.

You might think, well a couple of minutes doesn’t make a difference. And sometimes you’d be right… but there’s been a number of times at US airports for example, where this has been a good strategy. I disembarked at Las Vegas once and was one of the first 5 passengers off the plane. I had Global Entry, so transiting passport control was easy. But for the other 180+ people who did not have global entry, they found themselves in a very long line waiting to speak to the one customs & border control agent who was checking passports. In the USA, passport control is not a quick thing for non-US citizens! I estimate that the people who got off last were probably waiting a good 2-3 hours before they were finally free to continue their journey.

Bottom line

The lesson here is simple… the left-hand side gives you a tiny edge for getting out of that tin can faster. It’s a small edge, I will admit. But if it helps me avoid a long queue or get to my hotel sooner… I am taking it.

This week I’ll write a number of posts detailing my favourite seats on Virgin Atlantic (my most flown airline). In the coming weeks we’ll also look to add more favourite seat information from guest authors.

Let’s plan your next trip…