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The Pros and Cons of Sitting in a Plane's Bulkhead Row

April 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM | by | ()

We don't know about you, but we prefer to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. There's none of that dreaded tail turbulence action, you generally get to deplane earlier, and you touch down a hair of a second before everyone in the back of the bus. One of the biggest decisions when reserving an up-front seat is whether or not to choose the very first row in your section—the one with the wall in front of it, officially referred to as the bulkhead row.

After years of the do-we, don't-we indecision, we finally decided to list why we love, and we why we hate the bulkhead, so that you too can make informed seat map decisions.

The Pros and Cons of Bulkhead Seats:

· First row means first one to exit when you deplane
· It's likely that you'll be served your beverages, snacks or meal first
· Easy access to the bathrooms; no walking the length of the plane to find them occupied
· The economy bulkhead seats behind business enjoy reduced aisle traffic
· No reclining seatbacks in front of you
· Slightly more legroom and freedom to cross your legs without hitting a seat
· No passengers in front of you leaving a reading light on while you're trying to sleep
· Chatting up the flight attendants is easier because of proximity (depending on plane type)

· If your plane has overhead TV screens, you must uncomfortably crane your neck up
· If your plane has a projector screen up front, no sleep or darkness for you
· You could be sharing the row with families, including crying babies and curious toddlers
· If the seats are next to the bathrooms, prepare for lines and unwelcome odors
· If the seats are next to a galley, there's increased flight attendant traffic and bright lights
· Tray tables fold out from the armrest and can be smaller, with more joints
· No under-seat storage for purses or small carry-ons; everything goes in overhead bins
· Armrests are fixed, so no lifting them up to cuddle or lay down

For more tips on bulkhead rows, check out SeatGuru's own list of their likes and dislikes. We swear we didn't read it until after having finished our own list above!

If you think we've missed a key pro or con, feel free to add it in the comments below.

[Photo: Jaunted]

Archived Comments:


i'm 6ft 1 and i'm all about legroom so i love 'em. but i don't love the little tvs that you have to pull up and look down at rather than being in front of you

Rethinking getting from A to B

It's really all the same, no matter where you sit you are going to be uncomfortable lol - and even if you do get a comfy seat you're going to get a baby crying lol lol and the food is going to be terrible! I use to fly everywhere and probably would again but there are other ways to travel. Ways that are destinations in themselves. I had an amazing holiday taking the train across Siberia. I've been to some awesome places but this was defiantly the travel experience of a life time. The slower speed and the stunning landscapes made me wonder why we bother flying so much. What is the point of being in a rush if it sets the wrong tone for a holiday? You might like to give these people a try www.trans-siberian.co.uk. These are the guys I booked my holiday with and I would recommend them to anyone.

So Torn..

Love the bulkhead for the usual legroom and lack of a right-in-your-face recline; however, the no storage for in-flight goodies is a bummer. Especially since I'm a window-seat flyer, I have to bother my seatmates to get my stuff from the overhead bins. Still, I guess I have to go bulkhead...if it's even an option!


the thought of people queueing up to use the toilet is strong enough to make me not want that seat!

bulkhead can = bed

when travelling with my family i personally prefer the bulkhead. my young kids can then use the floor of the row as a makeshift bed and my husband and i enjoy some time without various arms and legs crawling all over us!

Aisle in Front is The Best

You really listed them all. I think that the pros really outmatch the cons.. but the TV thing happened to me and that was not very fun cranking the head trying to see the alse TV


"and you touch down a hair of a second before everyone in the back of the bus." I think not.


"and you touch down a hair of a second before everyone in the back of the bus." I think not.


right -- don't you touch down a hair of a second *after* if you're towards the front of the plane? they land tilted with the nose slightly up, meaning the back end first, no?