Would You Like A Window Or An Aisle Seat, Sir?

March 29, 2013

Flying. We’re not fans, but it’s a necessary evil for the frequent traveller. Today we have a guest post from the author of Flights And Frustration with a look at a very important question to consider when booking your ticket on an airplane.

When you book your trip away you consider all the important details such as hotel, transport and insurance; yet somehow you can be thrown by the question “Would you like a window or an aisle seat, sir?”

This fairly standard question at check-in may often be taken lightly by some who just opt for their immediate preference. Yet if we look at the pros and cons of this decision would you decide differently?

Boarding

Amid all the clamour to get onto the aircraft, irrespective of flying economy or business class there can be mayhem at boarding. Everyone pushing and shoving and generally impatient even though the cabin crew are waiting until you are all seated.

boarding flight

If you opt for the aisle then it is relatively easy to get to your seat. On the downside, however, you just sit there and get clobbered by the bags of everyone else as they pass by to get to their seat.

Choosing the window seat here is a good way to protect your head and shoulders from the bruises caused by that backpacker’s rucksack, however you may have to ask the person already in an aisle seat to move so you can get to your seat.

View

Sitting by the window is a clear winner in this category as you get to enjoy the great views on a relatively clear day for a flight, unless of course you are seated over the wing where your view could be obscured. The poor guy in the aisle seat, keen to see where we are has to sneakily peer over shoulders on either side to catch a glimpse through the window.

On the other hand if you are afraid of flying it maybe easier for you not to be near the window at all.

Going to the toilet

Okay so this can be critical, especially if you have a weak bladder or are ill. On the one hand, if you are in the aisle seat you have quick and easy access to the toilets. On the downside, if the person in the window seat has to keep climbing over you to get to the toilet you’ll soon become annoyed and won’t be able to sleep.

This really comes down to your tolerance and how long you think the flight will be.

window seat on flight

Length of flight

Like the bathroom issue above, the length of flight could be a big factor in the decision you make. Should it be a short haul trip of an hour, then maybe you’ll tolerate not getting your preference. But if you’re like me, you’ve made numerous long haul flights from the UK to Australia and you really want to be in your preferred choice for around a day’s length of flying.

Comfort

You really have to consider your comfort here, especially in light of the length of time for the flight. If you get claustrophobic, for example, then being crammed in by the window could cause a mild panic attack.

Sitting in the aisle provides more comfort as you can at least stretch one, if not both legs out into the aisle. You also have more scope for elbow room on at least one side. There’s nothing worse than no elbow room!

economy seat legroom

Emergencies

Thankfully I’ve never experienced one of these, yet we are always told about them before we take off. Should the worst happen, then the aisle seat has a lot of appeal. A quick release of the seat belt and you get in the queue to exit asap.

If you are stuck by the window, then tough luck really; you have to wait your turn. There is one big potential plus here though with the window seat. If you get an emergency exit seat you are right by the door and can be the first off the plane!

The overhead bin

This is pretty much like the toilet issue. You’ve brought lots of accessories or need to work on something during the flight. Having to unpack after take off, then pack away before landing is a real pain. Having an aisle seat gives you ease of access to bob up and down at your leisure.

However, poor Mr. Businessman by the window has to make frequent polite requests to get by so he can get to his luggage in the overhead bin.

sas flight onboard

Exiting the plane

The flight is over and all everyone wants to do is get off this plane. Poor old you stuck by the window, sorry you are not going anywhere for a while. You’ll have to wait your turn. If you are really eager to leave then you end up standing with a crouch as you can’t stand straight up whilst you wait for a gap in the queue.

As for the guy by the aisle, well, things couldn’t be better. As soon as that seat belt sign goes off he’s up and grabbing his bags. His place in the queue is already pre-set and he knows when he is likely to leave the plane.

So how about you? What is your seat preference when it comes to flying? Do you choose a different type of seat depending up which flight you are on? I know I do. However one thing is for certain, it is very rare to see someone ask to be seated in the middle of a row of three seats.

Bio: The Guy has been a frequent business traveller for more than a dozen years. The number of flights he has taken falls into the thousands whilst his frequent flyer miles are in the millions. Read more of his experiences on his blog Flights And Frustration – the rants, ramblings and ruminations of a frequent traveller. You can follow The Guy on Twitter or on Facebook.

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18 comments

  1. Comment by Mike Carlson

    Mike Carlson Reply March 30, 2013 at 7:00 am

    An aisle or a window seat would be fine with me as long as I don’t get to sit in the middle. I find it suffocating.

  2. Comment by Just One Boomer (Suzanne)

    Just One Boomer (Suzanne) Reply March 30, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I’m a window person no matter how long the flight. Admittedly, I’m only 5’3″. I like to lean on the window as another option for trying to sleep. My husband is an aisle person. Back in the day, there was a decent chance that no one would be seated between us. Those days are long gone. We explain to the person stuck in the middle that we’re married so they won’t be too alarmed (annoyed) when we start handing food, water and books to eachother.

  3. Comment by Jennifer

    Jennifer Reply March 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’m a window seat no matter how long the flight. I love gazing out and on long-haul flights, the window seat is great for leaning up against to snooze. Thankfully I have a good hubby who lets me have the window seat.

  4. Comment by The Guy

    The Guy Reply March 30, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Hey Suzanne, you provide a great example of how we all have our own preferences for the best seat.

    I see your point about people being sat in the middle seat now, planes are often booked to capacity or overbooked nowadays.

    Thanks for reading my article.

  5. Comment by Andi

    Andi Reply March 31, 2013 at 12:46 am

    The only time I would ever consider a window is if I know there is going to be some spectacular view, otherwise aisle for me please ! :)

  6. Comment by Sophie

    Sophie Reply March 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Window – something to look at, during take-off and landing at least.

  7. Comment by Karla

    Karla Reply April 1, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I have always been given the window seat (great views of course) but had the middle seat a couple of times.

    I still prefer the aisle as it is much easier to move around and leave sooner ;)

  8. Comment by Sherry

    Sherry Reply April 1, 2013 at 4:41 am

    On overnight flights I prefer the window since I get to lay my head against the window and I’m not constantly bumped by someone on the aisle – so long as it’s not the middle.

  9. Comment by Jemma

    Jemma Reply April 1, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I always prefer a window seat… I love looking out the window and watch the clouds and other views… The middle seat is the one I don’t like to take most… :)

  10. Comment by Alyson

    Alyson Reply April 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Window. Better all round in term of comfort and people are less likely to drop stuff on your head. Yes, it has happened to me, a bottle of spirits. Ouch! I never let my kids sit on the aisle for that reason, it could kill them.

  11. Comment by TammyOnTheMove

    TammyOnTheMove Reply April 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I prefer the aisle seat. I find the window and middle seat too claustrophobic. Plus you can get in and out quicker.

  12. Comment by Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke)

    Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke) Reply April 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Always the aisle seat — it’s not just being able to go to the loo, but also, especially on longer flights, I like to get up and stretch and roam around the aricraft. It’s just not healthy to stay seated for hours on end. And it’s a lot easier to circulate when you’re in the aisle seat. Also, I’m afraid of flying, so I don’t mind not being able to see out the window; that’s a plus for me.

  13. Comment by The Guy

    The Guy Reply April 3, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I fully understand Harvey, if you don’t like flying then it is better not to be able to see how high you are or the take off and landing.

    I think that most of these comments confirm that no one volunteers for that middle seat in a row of three.

  14. Comment by Michael

    Michael Reply April 7, 2013 at 8:28 am

    For short flights I don’t care if I get an aisle or window, just not the middle! For long international flights I like the convenience of sitting in the aisle for access to the bathroom BUT the window does give me something to lean on to sleep and sleep usually wins!

  15. Comment by Jarmo

    Jarmo Reply April 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Window, always window! :) You can look at the views, it’s easier to sleep, and nobody wakes you up when they want to use the bathroom.

  16. Comment by Ayelet - All Colores

    Ayelet - All Colores Reply April 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I also choose the window at all times. For me, it’s part of the travel experience, and there are always beautiful clouds, mountains, sunsets and sunrises – not to mention the views right after take off and right before landing. I even managed to see some stuff in the dark one flight! I can make it through 11 hour flights without a personal screen, but can’t imagine going through it without the special view you can only see from the air.

  17. Pingback: 10 Things I Really Wish People Would Stop Doing on Airplanes

  18. Comment by Victoria

    Victoria Reply November 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Window seat at every opportunity. It’s such a thrill to see the clouds, the sky, the twinkling lights, the cities, the rivers. They’re all rather lovely.

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