The best seats to pick on your flights in and from Australia

By John Walton, August 27 2012

We're often asked what the best seat is to pick on a reader's flights -- on Qantas, Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and many other airlines from Australia.

We've pooled our collective decades of business travel experience, pored over seat maps and cabin plans, and snapped pictures across more than a dozen airlines from AirAsia X to Virgin Australia -- that's nearly A to Z!

So if you want more legroom, easier access to the aisle, a quieter flight, and undisturbed sleep, here's the full list of our insiders' guides to picking the best seats in first class, business, premium economy and economy on the planes you'll most frequently see on your trips.

Note: Rachel Weisz not included.

AirAsia X

Air Canada

Air France

Air New Zealand

American Airlines

British Airways

Get some good sleep -- or relax quietly with your tablet or ereader -- on the very best of Cathay Pacific's new business class seats.

Cathay Pacific



Garuda's new A330-200s on the Sydney-Jakarta route are generally great, but the bulkhead seats at the front give you extra legroom.

Garuda Indonesia



Malaysia Airlines

If your seat doesn't fill you with joy, think how much comfortable and productive you'll be than the people in this Qantas 1979 business class seat!




Some Singapore Airlines flights from Australia have fully flat beds -- some of the best in the sky -- while others have these less spacious angled lie-flat seats.

Singapore Airlines

South African Airways

Thai Airways

United has a unique forwards-backwards business class seating configuration on Australian flights, so pick well to max out your sleep and in-flight productivity.


Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Australia

Get the latest updates for business traveller and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.



13 Feb 2011

Total posts 31

A great summary of ABT's excellent seat selection guides - it has gone to the top of my "favourites" list!



Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

I really love AusBT's seat guides. I always give a peak at reviews when I select my flights and if they haven't covered my plane, they have a guide that tells me how to choose the best seats on planes. This is one thing AusBT stands out from other Australian Airline Review websites.



01 Aug 2012

Total posts 30

What a great guide. Thank you! The only significant ommission I could spot was the absence of South African. They fly Perth-Johannesburg with fully-flat seats.



03 Jan 2012

Total posts 86

Having given up on Qantas, we're giving Qatar Airline a try on a trip from Perth  to London at Christmas.  777 on both legs.  Anything views on their seats?



China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 68

Can i ask why all the north/east asian airlines were left out?(Ok apart from Cathay )

I am a frequent flyer for China airlines (Sky team). But also missing is the new routes by the big 4 mainland China airlines. Eva, JAL, Korean, Do I need to continue. Still was a very interesting article. But it does seem most of these airlines are ones you would take to Europe or the America's from Australia.


John Walton

John Walton

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

Hi Tristan,

Our prioritisation for airline picks is a mixture of the likelihood of Australians travelling on them for business, the number of the aircraft in the airline's fleet, the number of flights from Australia, the relevance in terms of partnership with Australian airlines, the availability of seat information and a bit of an X-factor in "is this an airline that's particularly bad at swapping aircraft at the last minute". We also try to keep a mixture of long haul trunk routes and short haul connections in there, and to spread airline coverage around -- so, for example, if we've been writing a lot about Qantas, say, we'd pick another airline to be next on the Best Seats list.

As you can see, it's a bit of an inexact science, but I hope that gives you some insight into how we pick them!

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