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Where to Sit for a Quiet(er) Journey

Where to Sit for a Quiet(er) Journey
Jackie Reddy

From the roar of jet engines to the constant stream of in-flight announcements, air travel can be noisy. Armed with a decibel meter, WSJ’s Scott McCartney set out to uncover the noisiest places in the airplane cabin and what exactly passengers can do to ensure a quieter and calmer travel experience.

From the roar of engines to the din of in-flight announcements to the background noise of the cabin, air travel is a noisy experience. But for travelers looking for a slightly less cacophonous flight, The Wall Street Journal‘s Scott McCartney has some pointers for a quieter ride.

Armed with a decibel meter, McCartney gauged noise levels on different aircraft throughout various parts of the flying process.

He noted that, regardless of the craft, the noise level during different parts of the flight remained more or less constant. For example, the noise level at takeoff remained around 84 decibels regardless of the craft while the noise level upon landing measured around 90 decibels.

For those looking for a quieter travel experience, McCartney noted that, on the whole, newer craft – which of course feature newer engines – tend to be quieter than older craft. He also observed that wide-body planes offer a more peaceful ride than narrowbody craft.

He also advised that those looking to keep the noise to a minimum select their seat with care. On the whole, window seats were subject to more noise while aisle spots were quieter. McCartney also observed that the front of a craft tends to be quieter than the rear.

While the mechanical ambient noise of an aircraft is one thing, the din of other passengers and constant in-flight announcements is something else. For these kinds of sounds, McCartney recommends either a pair of noise-canceling headphones or soft foam earplugs to ensure peace and quiet.

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (6)


  1. amanuensis


    May 3, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Uh, I think most people already know what parts of the plane are quietist. I would always book an aisle seat at the front, but the airline usually wants me to pay extra for that. ;)

    I guess that is why F is at the front of the plane instead of the back.

  2. glob99

    May 3, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Wow, who could have guessed that!?!

  3. fotographer

    May 3, 2019 at 9:00 am

    amazing information… really?
    I think the cargo hold might be the best….

  4. edgewood49

    May 3, 2019 at 11:41 am

    I agree with everyone amazing simply amazing incite for all of us, and I thought the last seat on the airplane was the quietest !!!!!!!

  5. strickerj

    May 4, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I once got the worst seat on an MD-80 – the last row (without a window due to the engine mount), in the middle seat on the side with 3. Can confirm, it was not quiet.

    Can’t really complain though – my dad was once stuck in the last row in the middle of 5 on an overseas DC-10 flight.

  6. Dhamal

    May 6, 2019 at 10:40 am

    it would be more quiet if I can hold on a rope behind the tail section of the plane

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