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With seatguru.com you can see which window seats will have the view blocked by the aircraft wings, but that doesn't tell you which side of the plane has the "best" view. Is there a website that'll provide some insight into that?

Also, I realize "best" is a bit subjective but then again, hotel ratings on Expedia are also subjective. The fact that something is subjective doesn't mean that there aren't websites that address it or provide the ability for people to give feedback or something.

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    The best seat is in the front of the plane - ie, the pilots. Unobstructed view of everything. Seriously, this is perhaps the most unanswerable question posted here yet. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 3:18
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    @MarkMayo you should fly Tu-134 then. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 5:56
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    Whichever side is facing where the sun will be so you can close your blind. Otherwise you get hit in the face with sun-rays because the person across the aisle is asleep. ;) Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 6:17
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    Most flights that I remember, the views were boring. Especially on cruising altitude. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 6:45
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    Jimmy likes the forward port side because he has no unobstructed landscape views and no awkward eye-contact with flight attendants in jump seats. Paul likes the starboard side because he flies south in the morning and north in the evening and he doesn't want the sun in his eyes. I like to sit right over the back part of the wing because I like to watch the flaps and air brakes operate. "Best" is more than just a bit subjective, it's entirely so. Figure out your criteria and then your answer should be more clear. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 16:37

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You will find this information reported by travelers on many forums but as far as I know, there is no website that aggregates and provides a distribution of that information but this is a complex problem:

  • What is in view at take-off, cruising and landing is different, so some chances are that some of the great views might be visible from different sides on a single flight. I recall one announcement telling passengers on one side could witness a glacier separated from Greenland. Being on the other side I could not see any of it.
  • Some airport configuration have a direction of landing and take-off which may be fixed per runway but most large airports allow planes to land either way and they usually direct them to land against the wind. Winds not always coming from the same direction means that sides can get reversed. It does happen often but if you can check weather-patters and figure out dominant winds you can have a better change of choose the better side.
  • Even the time of the flight matters with a considerable different in view. Landing in Quito during the daytime shows the sprawling city to one side but an even more magnificent view of the Andes and several volcanoes. Turn this to night and the andes go completely back and the city looks like a constellation made of street lights.

Seeing sunrise or sunset while in the air is spectacular, but you have to take a flight at the right time so that it is above the cloud cover during the event. At least, for those two moments choosing the best side is much easier: Sunset is West, sunrise is east.

Given all this info you will be hard-press to find a central resource since the subjective best view will really depend, on the flight, points of interest, time of day and prevailing winds (for many airports).

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    "there is one website"? which is? Presume you meant no one website?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 4:15
  • Here is a specific question about "best" at a particular airport travel.stackexchange.com/q/84147/6188 (in which ironically, you commented on my answer)
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 10:39
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Punch in your flight code into a tracking site like FlightAware and take a look at the paths the plane flew previously. There's no guarantee that you'll fly exactly the same route — particularly around airports, takeoffs and landings frequently change runways/approach routes based on traffic, winds, etc — but the core of the route is likely to be pretty much the same.

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For the best view you need to be on the DOWN-sun side, ie with the sun behind you. This lights up the ground best, and gets rid of the back-scatter from the sun-light through the scratches on the window.

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    Position of sun is always my first choice (after selecting a window seat): you want to look outside, not to be blind from Sun (and reflections). Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 8:03
  • Estimating the position of the Sun during an intercontinental flight is not completely trivial, as it requires calculating the local solar time mid-flight.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 13:57
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The best side of an aircraft to be in in flight is the inside, period.

Anything else is so subjective it's not going to be quantifiable. Some people actually prefer to sit somewhere where they don't have a window, so as to be able to sleep better without having sunlight stream into their face, and fellow passengers complain when they close the shade (yes, I've seen that happen).

Plus of course for every window seat there are usually (depending on aircraft type) several seats that are not window seats.

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    The OP is specifically asking about seeing outside. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 4:58
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    @jpatokal The designated smoking area is on the wings.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 10:58
  • best side ... is the inside and so as to be able to sleep better - yeah, and then the chances are the two people that are on the inside will constantly be waking you up every time they want to use the bathroom.
    – ruslaniv
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 5:25
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    @RusI I think by "inside" jwenting means inside the airplane, as opposed to outside the airplane (on top or on the wings).
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 13:55

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