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emd May 16th, 2004 08:35 AM

your seating preference in coach on l-o-n-g flights (Japan)
I am holding reservations w/my 13 yr old son for flight originating in DC and goign through Minneaplois and on to Narita/Tokyo in coach on a huge 747 plane on Northwest (seat configuration 3-5-3). We have never been on a flight of this length or on a 747. At first I thought we'd get aisle-aisle seats so we could have a bit more leg room on the aisle, easier to get up and walk, and still could talk to each other across the aisle. But now I am thinking maybe sleep is the primary concern and perhaps we should both get window seats so we can have the window to lean up against to sleep. What do you think? What is your preference for those long flights? Thanks in advance.

clevelandbrown May 16th, 2004 08:53 AM

You can go to Seat Guru at
and they have information on which seats they consider the best.

Its my experience that getting an aisle seat doesn't give you extra room, as they keep telling you to get your feet out of the aisle. I travel with my wife, and we try to get side by side seats where the intervening armrest can be raised out of the way to give more room. My wife likes to look out the windows, so we try to avoid seats over the wings, or near the engines, due to the noise.

rkkwan May 16th, 2004 08:59 AM

The 747 is 3-4-3 in coach. I don't know how crowded a flight is between MSP and NRT in March. It should be low season, but individual flight loads may vary. NW also has two fligths a day MSP-NRT, so one may be more crowded than the other.

But here are some of the choices you can make, and their plus/minuses: [And go to and look at the seating chart. That way you'll see what I'm talking about.]

- Take the 2-by-2 seats on rows 63, 64, 65, or 66. The seating is 2-4-2 at the tail of the plane, so for two people, you can have window/aisle seats for yourselves. Problem is that you're way back in the cabin, so you won't be able to see the movie screen. Bring your own entertainment. You'll also be the last to get off the plane.

- If you can get locate your booking online, you may want to book two seats like A & C, or H & K. If the plane isn't full, then the two of you will have three seats. And if it's full, then switch with the person in the middle seat and give him/her a window or aisle. The downside is that if that happens, you will either climb over that person to get out, or have to let him/her climb over you. [Also, a telephone agent will unlikely let you book seats like this, unless you've "elite" status with NW or CO.]

- Just get a pair of seats in the middle. D & E, or F & G. You won't have a window, but you won't have to climb over others, or vice versa. Get a seat close to the front of a cabin if you want to view the movie.

- There are some VERY NICE bulkhead seats like on row 35. However, I doubt they'll give it to you right now. Maybe ask again at the airport. Chances are very slim you'll get them.

Personally, I always take an aisle seat on long flights. I hate feeling "trapped" by other passengers. I like to be able to get up and walk around or go to the bathroom, without having to ask for permission. If you take a window seat on your own, that means asking TWO people to let you out. And if either's sleeping, you will be waking them up. I'd rather be the "botheree" than the "botherer". On a 13-hour MSP-NRT flight, everybody has to at least go to the bathroom 2-3 times.

[The only exception I'd take was flying into the old HKG (Kai Tak). The view from seat "K" on the right hand side was a unique experience that I could not pass on. But that doens't apply to NRT, which is far away from Tokyo.]

Tiger_Lily May 16th, 2004 12:24 PM

The only qualm I have about the tail of the plane is the mega bumpy ride.

Bear in mind, that the turbulance around NRT is legendary. Many flight attendants and passengers have been hurt by the sudden large air pocket drops there. There were also reports of a lady facturing her arm due to it being suddenly flung to hit the side of the plane. Make sure that the you're belted up throughout the flight journey.

And sitting at the rear would be adding the ups and downs.

Personally, I find that the aisle seat is convenient mobility wise. However, be careful not to sleep sideways with the head facing the aisle ( if you get the free seat next to you). The traffic (trolleys, people, running children) would bruise the poor noggin. Use the seat side bar as a strict barrier.

mrwallen May 16th, 2004 01:21 PM

Be aware, too, that the back of 747s is notorious for people hanging out and sneaking cigarettes and/or drinking too much free airline booze. Any place there's extra floor space, people will be standing up and stretching their legs and letting off excess bodily gases, right at your face level. On a trip like yours, in coach, don't expect to be comfortable unless there are lots of empty seats to give you buffer space. From my experience (9 RTs), NW's service to/from Narita is only tolerable in the BC/FC cabins. "Book not through Narita lest thou surely be depressed."

rhkkmk May 16th, 2004 01:57 PM

THIS IS A SECRET THAT I ONLY SHARE WITH PEOPLE WHO I REALLY LIKE... we fly n/w to asia occasionally, in fact we are leaving on the back of the plane there are 3 or 4 rows of two seats....we like row 63....aside from the twosome comfort...noone climbing over you at 3 in the morning...there is a bonus....beside the window seat there is a space that is big enough for a moderate sized adult to stand up in...its wife who is 5', 3" can stand up and is also great for storage...
i think these seats start with row 62 and go for about 4 do not want the back row as it does not recline at all...we think 63 is perfect and we have it on 4 legs of our upcoming trip...
n/w accepts seat reservation 90 in advance of the flight...i call at 1AM EST on that day as i live in boston and they use central time....don't miss it or wait...stay up and call as soon as you have to do your return flight 90 days before it as well..

draw back---its way at the back of the plane for exiting.... the lavs are right there as well....although n/w is strict about loading from the you get on first...have fun

rkkwan May 16th, 2004 01:58 PM

People won't be trying to smoke on a US carrier. That just doesn't happen anymore. And no free booze on NW International, so you won't have drunks there either.

People do gather in the back, and there are also lavatories there. So, I'd avoid the last row (#66). But I think for two people travelling together, #63-65 is still preferred despite the concerns others have voiced, especially if the plane is full.

espn123 May 16th, 2004 02:58 PM

either exit row or bulkhead seat.
See for details.

rkkwan May 16th, 2004 04:05 PM

There are problems with the bulkhead seats and exit rows too.

- Your tray table comes out from the seat, and the armsrest are fixed. You cannot lift them up to get more room between you and your companion, or if there's no one beside you.

- You don't have room under the seats in front of you to put a bag. You must store your bag in the overhead bin. [This is not a problem for some people.]

- Bulkhead seats in the middle (for example, seat DEFG of row 53) have the big screen right in front of them. It's hard to see the movie from that close, and it's distracting if you're trying to read a book or sleep.

- The same bulkheads are also usually blocked or reserved for people travelling with babies. Babies + 13 hour flight = you know what...

As a result, they are often not very desirable on these flights. As you can see on, the best is probably seats like 35BCHJ or 36AK, but those are often blocked for people with "elite" FF status, or until just before the flight.

emd May 16th, 2004 05:04 PM

Wow, I'm glad I asked. I got the inside tips. rkkwan, I saw those rows of 2 on row 63 J&H or B&C when I looked at Those look preferable to me. Thanks very much for the tips. It's a whole new world for us.

Airlawgirl May 17th, 2004 08:58 PM

Unfortunately, emd, NWA is probably the absolute worst airline you could choose to go trans-Pacific on-almost non-existent amenities, in comparison to every other trans-Pacific carrier, (American carriers included) which have indiv. on-demand video games and movies, and footrests in economy- no comparison to ANA or JAL, but well, I hope the price is right....

rhkkmk May 17th, 2004 09:16 PM

i disagree....among other things they are about the fastest getting you is correct that there are no seat back tv's but sometimes they are difficult to see if the person in front of you has pushed his seat back...try reading a book for a change!!
you will enjoy it just fine....ignor the last comment above...

emd May 18th, 2004 06:49 AM

Hey, it's free (price can't get any better than that) and it's the dates I need! Those are the priorities. Besides, I have a personal DVD player w/a splitter for us both to use, and there is always Melatonin and a little something to help us sleep. A footrest would be a great plus , I agree, but not at a price when I can get this free (and I've been saving FF miles for years to get these two seats).

rhkkmk May 18th, 2004 07:08 PM

you may not be able to use the dvd player...

rkkwan May 18th, 2004 08:01 PM

I have heard of banned DVD and other players on Iberia and Aer Lingus. Never on NW (or CO) or other major US airlines.

mrwunrfl May 18th, 2004 08:41 PM

I prefer a window seat for the reason that you mentioned, emd: you can use the space between your armrest and the wall.

There will be baseball when you are there, I think. They pretty much have b-ball all year around though the big leagues run from end March to October. I've read that college ball is a big deal there. Bet your pitcher son is dreaming about repeating Randy Johnson's feat tonight (he pitched a perfect game today).

There will be GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT! in Osaka when you are there. HAI!

mrwunrfl May 18th, 2004 08:43 PM

I prefer a window seat for the reason that you mentioned, emd: you can use the space between your armrest and the wall.

There will be baseball when you are there, I think. They pretty much have b-ball all year around though the big leagues run from end March to October. I've read that college ball is a big deal there. Bet your pitcher son is dreaming about repeating Randy Johnson's feat tonight (he pitched a perfect game today).

There will be GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT! in Osaka when you are there. HAI!

Airlawgirl May 18th, 2004 08:59 PM

"read a book for a change....ignor (sic) the last comment above.

gee, kinda sounds to me like YOU may need to read a book once in a while (smile) like maybe a dictionary? or perhaps you were referring to ignoring your own comments? (double smile)

SamH May 19th, 2004 07:22 PM

I prefer aisle seats myself. I'm kinda broad shouldered and I feel less cramped with the aisle seat. I don't mind others asking to get out but feel bad about disturbing others. Most of the view from the plane will be clouds, snow, water or darkness until you land, so the window has minimal advantage.

BigFeat May 21st, 2004 06:13 AM

I agree that window seats are quite over rated as for the most part of the trip there is no meaningful view at eye level at 30,000 feet. I was on a French airliner from Chicago to Paris this past V-Day's weekend and they had a panoramic camera stashed underneath the plane. The view was available to everyone's TV set on a certain channel. The coolest thing is that it was a live color camera that let you see everything from the plane taxiing, to it taking off the land strip and flying over the sea and mountains. The camera angles allowed one to see directly down or pilot view. Breathtaking views so everyone literally had a 'window seat' sort of speak. I'm not sure if other airliners will follow suit with this option.

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