Window versus aisle seat airplane

Window Vs Aisle: Which Is Better For A Long Haul Flight?

7 April 2017

On a flight home from London many years ago I found myself stranded on the dreaded middle island between two strangers who did not want to share their armrests. I got no sleep, was constantly busting to go to the toilet, and had no room to wiggle my toothbrush out of my carry on.   

Since then, I do whatever it takes to nab a window seat, and I’ve learned that some strange people feel the same about securing an aisle seat. How can you deny the superior benefits of a comfy corner by the window?

Through much dedicated research I have discovered that window versus aisle seat is a highly personal choice, and the best way to make the right decision for you is by answering a few questions.

Are You Flying Solo?

Sitting next to people you know cancels out many considerations; you can scramble over them, fall asleep on them, and shove their arm out of the way if need be. Keep this in mind when tossing up the importance of the following factors.

 

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Do You Sleep Well On Planes?

If the answer is yes, then start feeling grateful. Specimens such as you and I have a much better chance of knocking jet lag on the head. A window seat is perfect for the plane sleeper - simply snuggle up against the wall and say goodnight.

If you don’t sleep well on planes, then the aisle allows you to pop up for jaunts down the cabin and make multiple toilet runs to complement the free drinks you are taking advantage of, which brings me to my next question:

How Frequently Do You Need to Wee?

If you know you’re going to be jumping up every half an hour, then be considerate and choose the aisle seat. If you’re a plane camel, or know that you will only use the toilet a reasonable amount of times then I believe a window seat is still the winner. After all, those in the aisle still need to jump up whenever nature calls any of their row mates.

Are You A Ninja?

The secret weapon in my window seat arsenal is my ability to get out of the corner without waking people up. If you are small enough and nimble enough, you can step out of the corner via the armrests, but beware of slippery socks.  

 

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Do You Get FOMO?

There are some views that you can only get from an airplane, and if you need to snap that scene for Instagram then choose a window seat that is not just behind the wing; it will impede your shot. Seeing a destination emerge or disappear below is an experience that never gets old for me, and if fortune relegates me to the aisle, I see window-seaters goggling out the window and get FOMO big time.  

Do You Need Extra Leg Room?

I am vertically challenged, but my leggier friends assure me that the ability to stretch their pins out in the aisle can be a game changer.

 

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Are You Travelling With Children?

I thought parents would always vote aisle, but my mum friends have alerted me to some valid points to the contrary. Obviously the bulkheads are prime plane real estate for parents with kids, but beyond that, a bulkhead window seat will give you a lot more privacy if you are nursing. It’s much easier to make a nest of the items that inevitably fall on the floor, and kids old enough to look out the window will be enchanted by the passing clouds for some portion of time.

On the flip side, if you have a little one who is touch and go on the potty front, an aisle seat may give you that crucial three minutes jump start on a toilet emergency. If you need to soothe your baby with some measured pacing, then the benefits of an aisle seat are undeniable; it will also put you in easy reach of any overhead luggage. 


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Emma Lee

Emma is a travel writer and blogger living in Brisbane, Australia. She followed the snow around the world for many years, and still considers Lake Louise Ski Resort her happy place. Emma's other passion is food; a love that has led her down many sketchy looking alleys in Asia, South America and Europe.