6 Reasons I Prefer Window Seats When Flying

6 Reasons I Prefer Window Seats When Flying

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I have a confession to make — over the years I’ve gone from being an “always aisle seat” guy to an “always window seat” guy on planes. It has no doubt been a gradual transition. First I’d select aisle seats no matter what, then I’d select window seats only on shorter flights, then I’d select window seats only when in premium cabins, and now I select window seats no matter what.

Heck, this has almost caused some drama in my relationship. When I first met Ford I thought “great, he prefers the window seat, that’s perfect.” Nowadays we fight over who gets the window seat (though not really, because in this situation I give in).

Why has my seating preference changed so much?

Why window seats are better than aisle seats

I understand all the arguments that people make in favor of aisle seats. Sure, you can go to the bathroom whenever you’d like, without having to step over anyone. You also potentially have a bit more space, in terms of being able to position your legs and “spilling over” into the aisle.

However, to me those positives pale in comparison to the benefits of a window seat. Now, I think we can all agree that a seat that gives you both an aisle and window is ideal, whether it’s in American Eagle first class or in Qatar Airways Qsuites. In fairness, though, most people aren’t flying in premium cabins, and/or aren’t on a plane with these kinds of single seats.

An aisle & window seat is the dream scenario!

Anyway, in no particular order, let me share why I’ve become a total window seat guy nowadays.

Gazing out of airplane windows never gets old

Despite having flown millions and millions of miles, to me gazing out an airplane window never gets old. Ever. Even the least scenic flight has things worth seeing, and there’s only upside from there.

I don’t care how commonplace air travel becomes, I’ll never take for granted the miracle of flight, and the fact that we can basically get a bird’s-eye view of the world when hurling through the sky at 500 miles per hour in a metal tube. Really, for me this is 80% of the reason to select a window seat.

Honestly, there’s just so much to see when flying, whether it’s a gorgeous sunrise over Mongolia…

View from a MIAT Mongolian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX

…or a gorgeous sunset over the Pacific…

View from a Philippine Airlines Airbus A350

…or just your average departure from Hong Kong.

View from a Cathay Pacific Airbus A350

I don’t judge who don’t look out the window when flying… but I am confused by them.

Window seat passengers control window shades

Beyond enjoying the views, you also want to be able to control the window shades. For example, if it’s a daytime flight and you want to sleep, you can control whether the window shade is lowered or not.

Similarly, if you want to watch your personal entertainment, you might want to lower the window shade to reduce glare. The person in the window seat always controls the window shades.

On the topic of views, it absolutely amazes me how many people simply choose to keep their window shades closed for the entire flight, and by being in the window seat, you can make sure you can still enjoy the view outside.

Control of window shades belongs to the person in the window seat

Window seats make it easier to work

Personally I work quite efficiently on planes, and I find that being in a window seat helps with that. I can angle my laptop or phone screen away from the person seated next to me.

While my preferred view on a plane is out the window, some people seem to prefer staring at other peoples’ laptop screens. Of course it also makes sense to get one of those privacy filters to put on top of your screen, but even those aren’t foolproof when you’re packed in like sardines.

A couple of weeks ago I was on a flight with my mom, and I gave her the window seat, so I was in the aisle. About halfway through the flight, the guy seated diagonally behind me started to talking to me about things I was working on in my email inbox. Nice. “I’m not meaning to pry, but…” No, sorry, in this case you are prying.

In a window seat you can angle your screen away from others

In window seats no one climbs over you

Often the argument in favor of an aisle seat is that you can go to the bathroom whenever you’d like. The flip side of that coin is that you potentially have up to two people who need to climb over you (or ask you to get up) in order to use the bathroom.

Personally I’d rather be in the position of a window seat passenger than an aisle seat passenger:

  • I don’t drink a lot on planes, so I don’t have to use the bathroom a lot
  • When you’re in a window seat you have a reasonable right to ask the person in the aisle seat to get up when you need to use the bathroom; maybe I’m just entitled, but I don’t “worry” about when I’ll be let out when I need to use the bathroom, because it’s a reasonable request
  • When you’re in the window seat you have the benefit of not having to get up when you’re not using the bathroom, and you also deal with fewer people “pulling” on your seat to get up
I’d rather be in a window seat and have no one climbing over me

Window seats are better for resting

Whether you’re in economy or business class, window seats are consistently better if you’re trying to rest. In economy, you can rest your head against the fuselage, which you can’t do in the aisle seat.

In a window seat you can rest your head against the fuselage

Meanwhile in business class cabins that don’t have direct aisle access from all seats, personally I have a strong preference for sleeping facing the wall, as it minimizes disturbances.

Even in business class window seats are better for sleeping

Window seats let you control your experience

When I’ve been in a window seat and have asked to use the bathroom, I’ve never had someone in an aisle seat say no. Ever. However, I have been in an aisle seat and:

  • Had a flight attendant pass a drink to the person in the window seat and spill it on my laptop, destroying it in the process
  • Set up my electronics to charge (keeping things fully charged is a hobby of mine, and sometimes I’ll be charging four things at once), and shortly after setting everything up the person in the window seat asks to use the bathroom, and I have to disassemble everything
  • Had someone standing in the aisle basically on top of me (whether a fellow passenger or flight attendant) having a loud, extended conversation with the passenger in the window seat
  • Had someone who keeps the window shade closed for the entire flight (this is actually incredibly common)
Window seats truly let you control your destiny

Bottom line

Over the years I’ve had a change of heart regarding my airplane seating preferences. Nowadays I’m 100% in favor of choosing a window seat, regardless of the circumstances.

Window seats offer better views, afford more privacy, are better for resting or working, and actually let you control your own experience, in terms of the position of the window shade and when you get up.

Where do you stand — are you #TeamWindowSeat or #TeamAisleSeat?

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  1. Jonathan Guest

    As an aisle guy, I find this post persuasive. I do choose window seats for shorter flights, but maybe I'll consider them for longer ones, too. More privacy, less bumping, window shade control—these are all legit advantages. My main concern is that I wouldn't be able to stand up and stretch as often.

  2. David Guest

    "I don’t judge (?) who don’t look out the window when flying… but I am confused by them."
    Maybe add a word...passengers/people/individuals, etc

  3. Charles P Guest

    I agree. I always reserve a window seat so I can lean against the fuselage and sleep, without disturbances from people needed to get past me, and without getting bumped by people going down the aisle.
    And now the grammar nazi in me comes out: “…we can basically get a bird’s-eye view of the world when hurling through the sky at 500 miles per hour in a metal tube.”
    The correct word is “hurtling”, not “hurling”.

  4. iamhere Guest

    I think it depends on the flight duration. If a short flight and I am alone then window is probably better. If a long flight I prefer the aisle. This said in a premium cabin, of course, I prefer those seats that give you both aisle and window. If it is 2-2-2 then I choose the aisle in the middle section.

  5. Margie Power Guest

    Team Window for me! I'm generally glued to the window for much of the flight. It's such a miracle that we can watch a bird's-eye view of the world. The best part of flying home from Europe is flying over Greenland. Yes, I close the shade so we can all sleep, or so we can all watch videos in comfort over the Pacific. When I get up to go to the rest room, I stay up for a good while and stand in the back and stretch.

  6. BradStPete Diamond

    Could'nt agree more, Lucky. And I appreciate the dilemma with Ford; My partner, Nate, also prefers the window and yes, I retreat to the aisle.

  7. bobby Guest

    I like window on long haul if I don't anticipate using the restroom. However, I do get up and stretch often. My long hauls are 11-14 hours to Asia. On US domestic flights of under an hour - I make them 2x a month - the aisle is best. I get into the aisle for my carryon luggage and stop all the bum rushers from pushing forward from the back.

  8. JustinDev Member

    Two reasons only:
    1. I am fascinated by the scenery, be it land or cloud formations. Fantastic! Never gets old.

    2. I hate people brushing against me or jerking the seat back as they make their way up and down the aisle.

    1. Anthony Joseph Guest

      Some counterpoint. I am 6' 0" and tip the scales at 220lbs. I am an aisle person:
      1. Not impinged for shoulder space in the windows seat (particularly on 737 vs A320/321
      2. More air circulation in the window seat vs aisle seat.
      3. If there is middle "seat hog" who thinks he/she owns the two armrests. Aisle seat can provide a "little relief" vs being squeezed.
      4. I hate it...

      Some counterpoint. I am 6' 0" and tip the scales at 220lbs. I am an aisle person:
      1. Not impinged for shoulder space in the windows seat (particularly on 737 vs A320/321
      2. More air circulation in the window seat vs aisle seat.
      3. If there is middle "seat hog" who thinks he/she owns the two armrests. Aisle seat can provide a "little relief" vs being squeezed.
      4. I hate it when people leave the window shade open with the sunlight literally blinding you even across the aisle, particularly on flights longer than 4 hrs, since a nap is a common habit by most passengers even if a daytime flight.
      5. The construction of most first class seats across all airlines has legroom "interference" (i.e. the seat leg in front of you is in the middle of the leg space.

      So I continue to prefer an aisle seat.

  9. ORD_Is_My_Second_Home Gold

    Three reasons I prefer an aisle seat: I'm getting to be that age where my prostate takes over my life, I'm diabetic, and I have digestive issues. A clear path to the Small Cabin is a necessity.

  10. BigTee Guest

    I used to enjoy aisle seat: easy access to toilet, and food and beverage easy access. Now, and especially for short domestic flights, as a tall athletic man, I prefer hiding in a window seat, to avoid demands from strong independent modern women and their frat boyfriends that I handle her too heavy carryon bag into or out of the overhead bin.

  11. Big J Guest

    I am a large man, not overweight but 6' 4" and 280. I love the window, but the aisle is the only option for me. Thankfully, I only travel as a couple, so the wife gets the window which she loves and I get the aisle.

  12. Chris Guest

    “Window passengers control the shades… “ except when flight attendants mess things up.

    Recent HKG - JFK flight, 430p departure, premium economy, 2x4x2. Sun about to set. I keep my shade up while we fly thru the night (and I rest). After about 4 hours, I’m up—it’s 11am in NY. The sun is just coming up as we fly over Alaska.

    Various flight attendants asked me three separate times to close my shade, as it...

    “Window passengers control the shades… “ except when flight attendants mess things up.

    Recent HKG - JFK flight, 430p departure, premium economy, 2x4x2. Sun about to set. I keep my shade up while we fly thru the night (and I rest). After about 4 hours, I’m up—it’s 11am in NY. The sun is just coming up as we fly over Alaska.

    Various flight attendants asked me three separate times to close my shade, as it was the only one open. “Other passengers are sleeping.” Is it my fault these people appear unconcerned about the time at our destination?

    I pushed back and they gave in “Okay, you don’t have to.”

    Make a trip to the restroom. Come back, shade is 3/4 closed. So that’s where it remained as we flew thru the afternoon.

    The worst.

    1. Mason Guest

      Is it my fault these people appear unconcerned about the time at our destination?

      Sure it is your fault that you appear unconcerned about what the majority of the other passengers want. Disturb others and blame it on the victims of your selfishness, I've seen countless dumb people and stuff they do, but what you did definitely deserves to take a place on the top 10.

    2. Samo Guest

      That's what eye masks are for. It's ridiculous to turn a long haul flight into a coffin and be without any light for 14 hours.

  13. George Romey Guest

    For all those reasons and you might get an idea of what's going for example if the plane is taking a long time to get to the runway or can't seem to get to the gate.

  14. Joey Diamond

    If flying in premium cabin, I always prefer window regardless if it’s a short or long flight. If flying in economy, I prefer aisle so I can walk/stretch my legs during the flight. Aisle seat also gives me easier access to overhead cabin.

  15. JN Guest

    The fact that there are people not co-operating with window/middle seat passengers for them to leave the seat is... just concerning. Having to stand up on the aisle to let the seatmates to leave is sure better than being stuck in either next to a wall or between two dudes for hours, just to get a view of outside that would offer nothing for most of the flight duration. Especially on a plane with 3-3-3/3-4-3 economy config, aisle seat is a no brainer choice.

  16. Maryland Guest

    Team Aisle, and that's where everyone agrees I belong. I agree with Mak on the claustrophobia and Ronnie on the bladder frequency but I also tend to be fidgety (always adjust my comfort) And that is annoying.

  17. Paper Boarding Pass Guest

    Aisle seat for me!!
    No climbing over others, no issues if I want to stretch my legs.
    That's why I like the center section on wide bodies. If I doze off and the center PAX needs the facility, chances are they'll disturb the other guy as I snooze.

  18. UncleRonnie Gold

    "Excuse me stranger(s), would you mind getting up so that I can go for a pee (again)?" Or you don't order a drink because you don't want to have to go later.
    Or you "hold it until you land...." and nearly cause yourself an injury. Window seats are inconvenient for everyone. Aisle every time for me.

    Of course this is what happens in coach which Ben wouldn't know much about :)

    1. Mason Guest

      Rare footage of UncleRonnie actually being reasonable

  19. Mak Guest

    I agree with this - Qsuites 8/10 A/K are the best seats in the sky - but I have come to hate window seats in the 787 which has such a severe concavity invading your space by your head that I find myself becoming claustrophobic if in them for a long flight.

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Mason Guest

<blockquote>Is it my fault these people appear unconcerned about the time at our destination?<blockquote> Sure it is your fault that you appear unconcerned about what the majority of the other passengers want. Disturb others and blame it on the victims of your selfishness, I've seen countless dumb people and stuff they do, but what you did definitely deserves to take a place on the top 10.

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Mason Guest

Rare footage of UncleRonnie actually being reasonable

2
ORD_Is_My_Second_Home Gold

Three reasons I prefer an aisle seat: I'm getting to be that age where my prostate takes over my life, I'm diabetic, and I have digestive issues. A clear path to the Small Cabin is a necessity.

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