Bulkheads Explained: Pros and Cons

With so many factors to take into account, all of which depend on personal preference, bulkhead seats are some of the most controversial. Always mouse over the bulkhead seats on the particular aircraft you will be flying to get detailed information. We hope the information provided below, along with the comments and color-coding provided on the website, help you make the best seating decisions to suit your needs.


What is a bulkhead?

A bulkhead is the physical partition that divides a plane into different classes or sections. Typically, a bulkhead is a wall but can also be a curtain or screen. In addition to separating classes from one another, i.e. business and economy, bulkheads can be found throughout the plane, separating the seats from the galley and lavatory areas.

What are bulkhead seats?

Bulkhead seats are the seats located directly behind the bulkhead separators.

What are the pros of sitting in a bulkhead seat?

  • With no seat in front of you, no one can recline into your space. This usually makes it easier to enter and exit your seat during flight too.
  • Some bulkhead seats provide extra legroom. If the bulkhead wall is situated very far in front of the first row of seats, those sitting in the bulkhead seats will enjoy extra space. In other instances, the bulkhead wall does not reach all the way to the floor, creating cut-outs. Cut-outs provide space for you to stretch your legs and sometimes even stow a small carry-on. (Whether or not the Flight Attendants allow you to store a bag in the cut-out space is carrier dependent.) While cut-outs differ in size, they are usually no more than a foot high. To find out which bulkhead seats offer extra legroom, mouse over each seat on the SeatGuru seatmaps.
  • If you are on an aircraft with personal televisions, it may be stored in your seat's armrest because there is no seat back in front of you. Having it come out of the armrest enables you to move and adjust the screen, but may reduce seat width slightly.
  • Some passengers like to put their feet up against the bulkhead wall, something that cannot be done when there is a seat in front of you.

What are the cons of sitting in a bulkhead seat?

  • If you are in a standard bulkhead seat the bulkhead wall will be about a foot in front of your seat, limiting the space you have to stretch your legs. Depending on how significantly the legroom is restricted, these seats will either be colored white, yellow or red.
  • Without a seat in front of you, there is no under-seat stowage for a carry-on bag. While you can have your bags in front of you during the flight, Flight Attendants will not allow you to keep any bags in front of you during take-off and landing. This regulation applies to all bulkhead seats, regardless of the carrier or class in which you are traveling.
  • Without a seat in front of you to hold a seat-back tray table, tray tables for bulkhead seats are usually stored in the seat's armrest. This makes the armrest immovable and slightly reduces the seat's width. If you are on an aircraft with personal televisions, it will also likely be in the armrest.
  • If bassinet positions are offered, they are often located at the bulkheads increasing your chance of being seated in close proximity to babies.

Do you have the G-Factor?

Your journey - and your flight - matter and who better than SeatGuru to make sure you have the best one possible. No one knows cabin comfort like SeatGuru: we've been helping travelers choose the best airline seat for over ten years. And now we've condensed all our knowledge into our new Guru Factor ("G-Factor") rating so you can choose the best possible flight for your journey. The G-Factor gives you comprehensive yet clear information about what to expect from the overall flight experience.

With our newly launched flight comparison search engine, SeatGuru not only finds you the cheapest flights but just as importantly gives you our G-Factor recommendation for each flight option. We'll tell you which itineraries score high on legroom and comfort and which ones don't. Each flight from the SeatGuru price comparison engine has been run through the new G-Factor algorithm (patent pending) and comes with our straightforward recommendation: "Love it", "Like it", or "Live with it".

The G-Factor recommendation is based on the following:

  • An overall comfort score based on the type of seat, seat pitch, width, and recline for each cabin
  • Data from over 45,000 user comments on more than 700 different aircraft configurations
  • Our comprehensive customer service and satisfaction ratings for hundreds of airlines
  • In-flight entertainment such as seatback TV, live satellite, and other audio and video options
  • Onboard product offerings such as WiFi, seat power ports, and other additional amenities

The G-Factor algorithm condenses all of the above and more - it is our secret formula used to calculate our SeatGuru G-Factor recommendation for each flight: "Love it", "Like it", or "Live with it".

For those that believe the journey does matter - we've created the G-Factor to make sure you have the best flight possible.