A popular “points and miles” blog I follow recently asserted unequivocally that aisle seats are better than window seats. I disagree. Of course, it is a matter of personal choice, and there can be valid reasons for choosing an aisle seat on one flight and a window seat on another.
Here’s my perspective on the pros and cons for sitting in a seat by the window or on the aisle.
Window Seat Pros
- View. The sights from cruising altitudes are often amazing.
- Personal space. Window seats have additional shoulder room because of the curvature of the fuselage.
- Sleep. It is easier to sleep or rest in the window seat because there is something to lean against and no one will disturb you when they get up.
- Privacy. There is only one adjacent seat and less exposure to passengers in the aisle.
- Covid Safety. Passengers sitting by the window are exposed to fewer people than those sitting in aisle seats. During boarding, passengers in aisle seats are exposed to people walking to their seat or standing in the aisle Sometimes people stand next to aisle passengers for several minutes while waiting for others to find seats and store luggage.
- Work. Passengers in a window seat can work on their tray tables without being disturbed when others in the row get up.
- Window Shade. The window seat controls the window shade but should be thoughtful of others. I will shut the shade if the sun is shining in someone’s face or making them hot.
Window Seat Cons
- Getting Up. Getting up to go the the lavatory, get something from the overhead bin, or just stretch one’s legs requires disturbing others. This is a self-imposed “con” because window seat passengers should get up whenever they have a need. While people shouldn’t disturb others without reason, passengers on the aisle or in the middle seat have no right to make prisoners out of others in the row. If someone has their laptop out or is otherwise working on the tray table, that is not the window seat passenger’s fault. If others do not want to be disturbed, they should have chosen a window seat.
- Claustrophobia. Some may feel claustrophobic in a window seat.
- Disembarking. Passengers in a window seat must wait to get to the aisle before they can get things from the overhead bin.
Aisle Seat Pros
- Getting Up. It is easier to get up from an aisle seat when you want to get something from the overhead, go to the loo, or stretch legs.
- More Space. Aisle seat passengers can let themselves expand into the aisle. That also comes with cons.
- Claustrophobia. The empty space in the aisle benefits those who feel claustrophobic on planes.
- Disembarking. Passengers in aisle seats can get to their things in the overhead bins easier, but they still must wait for the non-aisle passengers in rows in front of them to do the same.
Aisle Seat Cons
- Getting Up. You will be disturbed whenever a seatmate wants to get up.
- Covid Safety. Passengers in aisle seats have increased exposure to other passengers especially during boarding when the aisle is crowded and people may stand in one place for several minutes. Boarding and disembarking are the most dangerous times for Covid spread on planes because during those times the ventilation ventilation systems and HEPA filters are usually not working. The Covid risk for everyone (but especially for those in aisle seats) will increase when the government lifts the mask mandate for air travel as it is expected to do in about 30 days.
- General Safety. People in aisle seats are subject to being assaulted by bags, personal items and body parts from unthinking passengers as they walk down the aisle. They are also at risk from the service carts flight attendants wheel down the aisles. Sometimes people drop things on the person in the aisle seat when accessing the overhead bin.
- Service. Flight attendants must reach over the aisle passenger to serve the ones in the middle and window seats.
I prefer window seats primarily for the views. I used to be embarrassed to disturb others when I wanted to get up. Happily, I’ve moved past that thinking. Now I get up when I want.
The most desirable seat is one that is both a window seat and an aisle seat.
Airlines seem to think frequent flyers prefer aisle seats. When I don’t select a seat at booking, the airlines that I have status with automatically assign an aisle seat.
Which seat do your prefer. Please share your thoughts on the aisle versus window debate. I assume no one prefers middle seats.