This post will not turn into a flotation device. Sorry.
May 28, 2007 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Some international commercial planes have really odd seat numbering. Does anyone know why? Believe it or not, I'm dying to know. Please humor me. Thank you.

On some overseas flights (I noticed this on EgyptAir for example) the seat numbering is strange to me. I asked people on those planes, and I've even asked my flight attendant friend, but nobody knows the answer. Since people in Egypt generally don't use the Roman alphabet they probably didn't even notice it.

Here's an example:  on an EgyptAir flight I took, there were 6 seats across and an aisle in between. The seats were numbered A,B,C on the left, and H,J,K on the right. It would make sense to think they left out the numbers of a center row of seats that might've been D,E,F,G... except then the I is missing. So that confuses me further.

Anybody know the logic behind this stuff?
posted by miss lynnster to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: They may use identical seat letters regardless of the size of the plane. And they usually skip "I" because it looks too much like 1.

But a wide-body 747 with a 3-4-3 config would have ABC/DEFG/HJK. Since there was no middle 4 on your plane, they took out DEFG, which leaves A and K as the window seats and C and H as aisle seats. This way it's easier to figure out which seats are window/aisle/middle.
posted by GuyZero at 10:59 AM on May 28, 2007

I wonder if the 'I' is omitted because it could be confused for a '1'
posted by Good Brain at 11:00 AM on May 28, 2007

You'll see this on domestic flights too. On a 2/2 plane, one side might have seats A and C while the other has D and F.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:03 AM on May 28, 2007

You've been commenting a lot on Egypt so this shouldn't surprise you--there are those of us who remember when the smoking section on Egyptair was the left half of the plane.

But yes, concur with all three comments above.
posted by Phred182 at 11:13 AM on May 28, 2007

Response by poster: Actually, I didn't fly much back when planes had smoking sections. Wow. That's crazy! Did they have some kind of PLAN to keep the second hand smoke on the left side? I'm glad they don't do that any more.

I guess that all does make sense. Thank you all. It just seemed odd to me at the time but what made it odder was that I've asked many people about it over the last year and everyone just seems to shrug their shoulders and say they never noticed it. So then I felt like I needed an answer. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:37 AM on May 28, 2007

Many identification systems that use letters, including plane seating, VIN numbers, and part numbers, omit both "I" and "O" because they look like one and zero, respectively.
posted by notsnot at 1:50 PM on May 28, 2007

I haven't flown Delta in a while, but there used to be (and maybe still are) a couple of rules about Delta's seat numbering: seat C is always an aisle seat (whether ABC/DE, ABC/DEF, AB/CDE/FG, or AB/CD), and row 10 is always aft of a bulkhead. In fact, if the first-class section is really short, the rows may be numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 10.
posted by oaf at 2:08 PM on May 28, 2007

I had forgotten but ROU_Xenophobe is right on. Air Canada Jazz planes, little turbo props like the Dash-8 and the bigger CRJ planes, are AC/DF lettered for seating. See here.

Air Canada 777's are a 3-3-3 config and use ABC-DEG-HJK for further confusion, omitting just the F seat versus a 3-4-3 configuration, so you can see that the interior aisle seats are still D & G.

The Air Canada 340's use a 2-3-2 config, which is AC-DFG-HK lettering. Why the 777's get E and the 340's get F, I dunno. There's a good question.

The only odd plane I found once I started looking at this (you got me curious) was that United has some 777's on a 2-5-2 layout, which seems awful. So they use AB-CDEFG-HJ. That same plane drops 2 seats in the middle for business class though, so business is AB-DEF-HJ.

I guess the airlines only try to stick to it within limits.
posted by GuyZero at 2:14 PM on May 28, 2007

It's referenced in GuyZero's comment, but the definitive site for this kind of info is SeatGuru -- every characteristic of every seat on commercial fights is extensively, exhaustively detailed. It's pretty remarkable, and gives you a good feel for what it's like to travel on different airlines' planes.
posted by anildash at 7:42 AM on May 29, 2007

I *just* read on Snopes a day or two ago that there's no J street in DC because it used to be interchangable with the I - ah, here's the article. So yeah, especially in other alphabets, things like that could be a consideration too.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:19 AM on May 30, 2007

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