The Best Economy Seats On Australian Domestic Airlines

"A few inches here and there won't make or break a trip. Getting sat next to the constantly-in-demand toilet will."

Have you ever checked-in to your flight early, carefully studied the seat-map and chosen the best seat in the house? Have you also sat down smugly in your pew of choice; only to realise you misread the map, booked the wrong side of the exit row, and are now stuck next to the toilets in a seat that won’t recline?

No? That’s cool—I was just asking for a friend.

Anyway, if you are keen to avoid that 100% hypothetical situation, check out this guide to the best and worst places to sit in economy on a domestic Australian flight.

Qantas Airbus 330-200

Sure, the Qantas Airbus 330-200 economy seats come with 31 inches of recline and a width of 17.5 inches (and the food is complementary), but let’s be real: economy is economy. A few inches here and there won’t make or break a trip. Getting sat next to the constantly-in-demand toilet will. That and a good glass of Chardonnay. Also: legroom. Need we say more? Picking a good seat is arguably more important than picking a good airline. And unlike some other airlines, on Qantas domestic flights, it’s free!

Considering the Airbus 330-200 is one of Qantas’ domestic staples (i.e. if you book a few flights in Australia you’ll end up on it at some point), it’s handy to know the best places to sit. Normally this takes a few bouts of trial and error. Luckily for you, we’ve tuned in to SeatGuru to share the secrets only frequent flyers know. Here’s a breakdown of the seats of interest.

The Seats To Get

  • Row 44: Extra legroom; it is the highly coveted exit row.
  • Row 57: Yes, it’s near the toilets, but if you are a serial food muncher this row gives you easy access to the snack-laden galley.

The Seats To Avoid

  • Row 23: Avoid booking in row 23 if possible; it may have restricted legroom due to the bulkhead. The only upside here is you have nobody in front of you.
  • Row 39: This row of seats is near the toilets so unless you’re a fan of air freshener and other smells give this one a miss.
  • 53D & 53G: Unless you enjoy being elbowed awake every time someone misjudges the gap between you and row 54, don’t book seats 53D or 53G.
  • 54D, 54E and 54F: Due to the misalignment with the seats in front, if you end up in these seats, you will have slightly restricted leg and storage space.

Qantas Boeing 737-800

The Qantas 737-800 is a smaller aircraft than the Airbus 330-200. But the potential to score a great seat (or languish miserably in a poorly chosen one) is even greater. The 3×3 seat layout is not for everyone however there are a few gems on this little city flier. It’s often traversing the skies between Sydney and Melbourne, so if you live in either of the nation’s unofficial capitals, knowing this plane’s seat-map by heart is just as important as knowing Sydney’s coolest bars or Melbourne’s best barbers.

The Seats To Get

  • Row 4 is the pick of the bunch; it’s the only seat on the plane that provides extra legroom with no drawbacks. You do however need to be Qantas Platinum or Chairman’s Lounge to pre book these. The best you can hope for is asking the desk nicely before departure (alternatively you can pay $20 to secure an ‘additional legroom’ seat).
  • Row 13 – Limited recline; but extra legroom, which somewhat makes up for it.
  • Row 14 – Extra legroom, but less cushioning, and can get cold as they are near the plane’s exit.

The Seats To Avoid

  • 9A and 9F are seats to avoid if you are a fan of the view (they are windowless).
  • 10A and 10F – A tight squeeze for the bodybuilders among us, featuring a misaligned window and reduced shoulder room.
  • Row 12 – This one will keep the chiropractors busy; it doesn’t recline.
  • Back Row: limited recline and near the toilets. Boooo!

Qantas Boeing 717-200

The Qantas 717-200 is another smaller jet, which is part of the QantasLink service and is often used between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Bonus: being part of the QantasLink gives you access to Qantas points and ‘status’ credits, seamless connections, 24/7 online booking and the option to check in via mobile phone.

The Seats To Get

  • Row 4: This is a coveted ‘extra legroom’ zone, but if you want to reserve it you’ll have to pay $20 upfront, and it normally sells out quick. Get in early and your legs will thank you.
  • Row 13: Limited recline; but extra legroom, which somewhat makes up for it.
  • Row 14: Extra legroom, but as per row 4 you may have to pay extra for it.

The Seats To Avoid

  • Row 12: Limited recline.
  • 22A &22C: Last row of the plane, limited recline, near toilet.
  • 23D, 23E & 23F: Last row of the plane on the other side of the aisle, limited recline, near toilets.

Jetstar Airbus A320

The Airbus A320 boasts the widest cabin of any single-aisle aircraft in the sky, and can hold up to 180 passengers. But how many of them will travel with leg cramps? Read on to find out. In all seriousness, if you book a Jetstar flight, chances are you will be on this Airbus, so brush up on your aisle-atomy… Yes: choosing your own seat costs about $8 (assuming you’ve booked a ‘starter fare’) but it’s definitely worth it. And to secure an exit row seat you’re looking at an extra $25.

The Seats To Get

  • Seats 1B and 1C: The pick of the lot, these seats have extra legroom and no drawbacks (1A almost makes the cut, but the exit door protrudes into some of its space).
  • Row 13: Book here if you can—exit row with extra legroom and no drawbacks. Like the front, it comes at an extra fee.

The Seats To Avoid

  • 1D, 1E and 1F: Fools gold: From a regular seat map they appear to be an exit row with extra legroom. They are not. They actually have limited legroom due to the position of the bulkhead.
  • Row 11: These seats may have limited recline (row 12 has extra legroom but similarly limited recline).

Virgin Boeing 737-800

The Virgin Boeing 737-800 fits 176 passengers: but only those with the inside info will be on the best seats. To make sure you are one of them, so that you can arrive in Perth you can windsurf with the great whites (or swill wine with the in-laws—whichever you find less intimidating), 100% refreshed. Or if your travels bring you to Brisbane you can stroll the South Bank without lower back pain and a stiff set of knees.

The Seats To Get

  • Row 13: This is one of the most sought after exit rows with extra legroom and super comfy seats. However you will have to pay extra to sit here as it is classified as ‘Economy X’.
  • Row 14: Same as above – part of ‘Economy X’ – but well worth the splurge.

The Seats To Avoid

  • Seat 9A: Unless you’re a troglodyte you won’t like this seat (no window).

Virgin Boeing 737-700

Unless you’re willing to pay for an upgrade to Economy X, you’re going to struggle to find any sneaky extra legroom in the Virgin Boeing 737-700. That said, it’s still worth knowing where to avoid. After all: you don’t want to rock up to the Australian Open (or Darwin’s national parks) after a stressful flight. If you’re not going to treat yourself to Economy X, at least don’t book a seat next to the toilets.

The Seats To Get

  • Economy X: they have turned the exit rows into their version of premium economy.

The Seats To Avoid

  • Back Row: Near the toilets and galley.

TigerAir Airbus A320

Although this is a single aisle plane there are a fair few seat options! Unlike some of the other plane’s on this list, the TigerAir Airbus A320 is more than a pocket-rocket. Despite its size it still zips around everywhere like one though! Whether you are on a business trip to Melbourne or a Barossa Valley wine tour in South Australia you could end up on one of these—so make it worth your while.

The Seats To Get

  • Row 1: Extra legroom due to the position of the bulkhead.
  • Row 13: Extra legroom due to it being an exit row.

The Seats To Avoid

  • Row 11: Located in front of an exit row so it may not recline.
  • Row 30: Limited recline, close to the toilets.

TigerAir Boeing 737-800

TigerAir Australia’s Boeing 737-800 has a 180 seat capacity with 42 ‘Extra Leg Room’ seats, 30 ‘Up Front’ seats and 108 regular Economy seats. Smaller than the Airbus but with newer upholstery, the TigerAir 737-800 is a nifty jet. To get the optimal experience make the most of selecting your own seat online. Choose wisely.

The Seats To Get

  • Seats 15A – 15F: They come with more legroom, but you’ll probably have to pay extra to book these seats.

The Seats To Avoid

  • 13A – 13F: Limited recline due to the exit row behind it. 30A – 30F: Limited recline and next to the toilets.

RELATED: How To Travel Calmly & Comfortably In Economy