Why you should always sit on the right side of the plane when landing at Heathrow

Nov 8, 2019

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Seat selection on a plane is something high on the priority list of many an AvGeek when booking a trip. Consequently, airlines have picked up on that and now most charge for you to be able to pick your preferred seat. But how to decide where to pick? Aisle or window? Exit row over wing or exit row bulk head? 1A or 1F? If those weren”t already enough decisions to make, which side of the plane should you choose to sit on and why does it matter?

Depending where you’re sitting on a plane, you can have entirely different in-flight experiences. For example, if you’re flying northbound from Barcelona to London in the evening, those on the left-hand side of the aircraft will most likely be treated to a beautiful sunset, while those on the right will only see an ever-darkening sky from their windows. This might make me more inclined to opt to sit on the left side of the plane. But, that would likely mean missing out on the bright lights of London by night if I were flying into Heathrow (LHR). What a problem to have.

Due to wind and approach patterns, the vast majority of aircraft landing in Heathrow sweep across the city from the east just south of the river, and will join one approach flight path from the north or the south, as per the map below. Note that this is an approximate diagram taken from flight paths flown on the day of writing.

(Graphic by Orli Friedman/The Points Guy)

This means that, weather depending, passengers sat on the right-hand side of the aircraft are more often than not treated to views like these taken at various aspects of the approach by our TPG U.K. team.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

If you approach from the north, you’re likely to sweep right, around The City of London where you’ll be treated to sights like the Walkie Talkie, the Gherkin and the Shard.

Read more: AvGeek alert: How to watch Bonfire Night fireworks from the sky

(Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

If you come in from the south, depending on where your aircraft fits in the queue to land, you might skip out going past the City and get views along the Thames from the Vauxhall area.

(Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

Sometimes you get so close to The City that you can make out the people working in the Gherkin.

Read more: How to save on your next Heathrow Express journey

(Photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy)

Again, another approach from the north, giving unrivaled views of Tower Bridge and the Shard as well as The City.

(Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

If the wind is not blowing in your favour and you approach from the west instead, your views won’t be anywhere near as interesting as from the east. Thankfully, the chances are you will approach from the east, so make sure to pick your seat on the right-hand side of the aircraft to make sure you’re in the best place to catch a glimpse of some of the most beautiful views of London

Featured image by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy

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