What would the ultimate airline experience look like?
An airline with the best food, service and seats in the world? Traveller.com.au's writers name what their dream plane would feature.
I like having the option of making a quick exit. I prefer the cinema seat nearest the door, in case the film is boring, confusing, violent or unfunny and coffee and/or alcohol are suddenly more appealing than finding out how the story ends. On a bus, I choose a front seat. Let the cool kids sit up the back.
In the front I get the best view, and can promise myself that when the bus misses the bend and rolls down the ravine, I'll be the man who sees it coming, braces himself, uses the emergency hammer to shatter the windscreen and heroically helps those who foolishly selected the rear pews.
On a plane, it has to be an aisle seat. Nobody wants that middle seat, though there are some who will put up with it so they can hold hands with a partner and gallantly help open the peanuts. My regular travel companion and I like to sit across the aisle from each other, within hand-clasping distance in case of disconcerting turbulence.
From an aisle seat I can stroll to the business class curtains and back, pluck the sleeve of a passing cabin attendant to ask for my glass to be refilled, and sneak to the toilets before the after-dinner queue has formed. There's no need to inconvenience the gentleman who's trapped by seatbelt, blanket, headphones, laptop and dinner tray, or clamber over the woman whose 12-hour sleeping pill has kicked in.
Getting an aisle seat is well worth a little trouble, I think, as the cabin crew arm the doors for takeoff and I smugly deposit pillow and reading matter in the empty middle seat beside me, glad that I haven't squandered any of those treasured frequent flyer points on a totally unnecessary upgrade. Then the clouds part and the lucky bastards in the window seats get a once-in-a-lifetime view of the sun shining on the Alps. Damn
TIPS FOR AISLE-SLAYING
* Choosing seats requires planning. Pay attention to the opening time of online check-in. Often it's 48 hours before the scheduled departure, but beware – it can be 36 or 72 or 24 hours. As soon as the clock ticks over to the magic minute, be online, with flight details, frequent flyer number and booking reference already scribbled on paper.
* For some mysterious reason airlines fill the front seats first, so if there's any chance of a vacant middle seat, it will probably be up the back near the toilets.
* It can go wrong. Hotel wi-fi can fail. The airline website can refuse to let you log on from Kazakhstan. Cut-price European carriers don't even allocate seats. In such cases, get to the airport four hours early and hover below the departures noticeboard waiting for a check-in desk to be allocated. Then run.