100 Words On: Why Window Seat Fliers Are the Happiest Fliers

You may be surprised to know that many airlines are now charging extra money for a growing number of window and aisle seats. And while I might consider paying extra for a window seat, I’m still trying to understand why anyone would ever pay extra for an aisle seat, considering the physical abuse they often get from passing carts, stewardesses and passengers.

The bottom line: Sitting in a window seat affords spectacular views and a place to lean your head. But perhaps the best perk of all is knowing you can’t be disturbed by a row mate looking to use the lavatory.

Photo Credit: Jason Pratt


  1. 1


    I’m 6 foot 1 so I can appreciate the people wanting an aisle seat. I’ve only ever had window seats on planes though but I imagine you can stretch out into the aisle a little bit if there isn’t anyone currently occupying it with a cart.

  2. 2


    I will pay for an aisle seat; in fact with the carriers with which I have frequent flyer cards my preference is in the system – no begging at check in. Reason is I have vertigo so have to do all possible to forget that I am high in the air. When I travel on my own it works; when I am with hubby I here all about what he can see through the window and he is very lucky to be still alive (and I am to be out of hospital or prison).

  3. 3

    Oscar says

    I know fliers that are even happier than window seat fliers: first class fliers, window or aisle.

    Especially considering that major carriers are taking away even more coach space to give them additional leg room.

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      Well, Oscar, there is nothing better than flying first class. It does make the time go by very quickly, doesn’t it?

  4. 5

    Lola says

    I’m an avid window seat flyer, for exactly the reasons stated here: there’s a place to lean my head (although it’s not very comfy at all, it is better than nothing), and I do not have to jump up and down for people who want to leave their seats. I try to be considerate to the others in my row by not leaving my seat unless it’s absolutely necessary. :) I’ve also had some vertigo with the window shade open, so mostly I keep it closed. Although when I landed in Paris for a layover, I was glad I was looking out the window – I got my first look at the Eiffel Tower that way!

    • 6

      Len Penzo says

      Speaking of great destinations to have a window seat, San Francisco and Washington DC have some spectacular window views too, Lola.

  5. 7

    Alex says

    I am an aisle seat person. As mentioned above, airlines are increasingly not providing enough leg room to passengers resulting in a cramped uncomfortable flight. At least in the aisle, I can stretch my legs out and even stand up and stretch (without having to scuffle past anyone). And when the plane lands and we’re waiting to deplane, I can stand up in the aisle rather than have to wait, impatiently cramped in my seat for the rest of the plane to unload before I am allowed to stand.

  6. 8


    Window seats are nice for people who want to sit and not move for the flight.
    Personally, unless there’s something I really want to see out the window, I’m an aisle person as well. I’ve never been banged into by a cart.. I fit in the seat.
    Being in the aisle means you can get out any time you want without having to climb over someone or wait for others to move. It’s much more free. You’re not wedged in by other people. Yes, you may have to step up to let other people out, but for those who like to move around more on a flight, that’s not a big bad thing.

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      That’s me, Rachel — once I’m in my seat, I don’t get out of it.

      In fact, I’ll share this little tidbit with you. I bet I’ve flown at least 500,000 miles — and I have yet to use an airplane lavatory. Now that little run of mine has sort have become a burden because I feel like I’ve gone all these years without ever using one, and I don’t want to break that streak.

      I know what some folks are thinking: The longest flight I’ve been on is Phoenix to Maui (about 6 hrs 15 min). I barely broke a sweat on that one; I bet I could have gone another couple hours! Of course, I do want to visit Australia one day, so the record will absolutely have to fall eventually. Then again, I guess there are potential workarounds if I am really set on keeping my record intact.

      • 10


        You must be dehydrated to go that long without the facility. Not good for you. Lucky you haven’t been hit with kidney stones…

        I’m an aisle seat person, cause if I can get up and stretch during the flight I will. Though you do sound like an ideal seat mate!

        • 11

          Len Penzo says

          Well, I’m sure you’re right Dr. Dean … I probably was dehydrated. But not critically so; I was drinking beverages on the plane — just not going overboard. After all, we spend longer periods sleeping without adding any liquids to our system, right?

          The key for me is to hit the head just prior to boarding.

  7. 12

    Allyn says

    When I fly, I *always* ask for an aisle seat. When I was younger (in my 20s and 30s), I wanted a window seat so I could look out the window. I’m in my 50s now and I’m over wanting to be ‘trapped’ in a window seat. I hate having to climb over people to get to the aisle and there’s no way to just stand up and stretch my legs for a moment without making an event out it. (In the window seat, you can’t ‘stand up’ because of the overhead compartments.) If I’m in the window seat now, I usually want the shade closed which can annoy the guy in the middle seat because then he can’t look out. In the aisle seat, I can get up anytime I want without bothering anyone. The refreshment cart doesn’t jostle me and people passing by aren’t a problem. If someone in the ‘trapped’ seats wants to get out, I stand up and let them out instead of making them climb over me. Not to mention that when you reach your destination, the people in the aisle seats tend to be able to deplane ahead of the folks in the ‘trapped’ seats. I don’t want to be ‘trapped’ in a window seat anymore. Give me an aisle seat anytime.

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      Yeah, that’s a killer for me, Allyn … If I am stuck in an aisle or middle seat and the window-seat person keeps the shade drawn, it drives me crazy! I need to see where we’re headed (if it is daylight). If it’s nighttime, then it doesn’t bug me so much.

  8. 14

    Edward says

    I’m 6’5″ so I *require* aisle. Even if my feet get trampled sometimes–I need at least the ability to try and stretch them out occasionally. This “paying extra for the wing seats” to get the extra leg room is cr@p though–they should be reserved for very tall or disabled people.

  9. 15

    Weston says

    Ever since I hit my mid 50s long flights mean at least 2 trips to the bathroom. Give me an aisle seat any time. I hate climbing over people, and I have never been hit by the cart or another passenger while in an aisle seat.

    • 16

      Len Penzo says

      Here’s one for you, Weston: Our last trip to Maui I had an aisle seat. My left shoulder was bumped so many times by passengers walking by that I was surprised it wasn’t black and blue by the end of the flight. I’m not kidding. I mean, come on. There are also people who like to touch the top of the aisle seats as they walk down the lane to the lavatory. Why? It’s almost like they think they’re, Tarzan or Jane, in a jungle and swinging from one vine to the next.

      • 17

        Weston says


        I’m not saying there hasn’t been some incidental, inadvertent touching but absolutely nothing even approaching the “physical abuse” that you referred to in your original post.

        My body takes much more abuse trying to squeeze past my fellow passengers every time I need the lavatory or want to stretch my legs.

  10. 18


    I’m the window seat guy, even though I’m also 6’1″. I love the view and the built in headrest. I also like avoiding what happened to me one time: the woman next to me fell asleep and slumped on my shoulder. She was very attractive so I let it go that one time…. BUT I’d never get away with that, so I go with the window.

  11. 20

    SassyMamaw says

    I was actually a little surprised by how many people above actually enjoy the aisle seats. I love looking out the window. What I didn’t realize was that I was inadvertently sticking my poor dh with the middle seat every time. He mentioned it and I switched with him. Sitting in the middle seat reminded me of being on a school bus. Ugh! I would pay (a little) extra for a window seat.

    • 21

      Len Penzo says

      I’m with you, Sassy! For what it’s worth, I recently read Expedia reported that, in the past year, 21 percent of their customers chose window seats, 20 percent chose aisle, and the rest had no preference.

  12. 24

    Sandy E. says

    It’s an aisle seat all the way for me since I like to get up 2x or more, and would dislike having to ask someone to move for me so I could do that. And when the plane lands, I get to stand up fully and wait to exit. I’m 5’9″ so can cross my leg into the aisle – just have to check and make sure the cart isn’t coming, and would feel squished by the window. The view isn’t a concern for me since I travel a lot, 4x to HI from CA per year, and have already seen it, plus you still can from the aisle seat.

  13. 25

    Mary says

    Aisle seat here. I have become one of those people who need to use the restroom all the time and I just want to go when I want. I feel less trapped at the aisle, especially if the middle seat passenger smells bad. I don’t mind getting up for others to get out, I am quite fidgety anyway. Aisle seat all the way.

  14. 26

    Mandy says

    I am an aisle seat girl myself. My bladder is too small and and my embarrassment of climbing over strangers to great for me to be comfortable in a window or middle seat. By the way, Len, I LOVE your blog. I live and work in Orange County so knowing you can make it here and still be frugal inspires me. Keep it up. My family and I enjoy it immensely! :)

    • 27

      Len Penzo says

      Small world, Mandy; I work in the OC too. I bet we’ve passed each other on the freeway on our way to work once or twice. :-)

      And thank you for the kind words. You don’t know how much I appreciate them.

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