May 4, 2009

Window or Aisle?

You may recall that soon I am GOING TO SEE MY NIECE OMG I CAN'T WAIT. I'm flying Southwest, which has open seating rather than assigned seats. This fills me with anxiety. I don't even know what seats to hope for! I don't know what I should choose. That is, IF I get my choice rather than getting stuck with whatever dregs are left---or, oh dear merciful Target, a MIDDLE SEAT.

Should I hope for an exit row, which I think has more leg room but also requires lengthy fretting about whether I really would be up to the task of assisting the flight attendants in an emergency, considering I am the kind of person who freezes up when asked unexpectedly what she wants to drink? (OMG, what if I say "diet Coke" and they're a PEPSI establishment and the server corrects me???) The front row, which has no one putting their seatback on my knees but also has no underseat place for my bag and gets all congested with people waiting in line for the bathroom?

What if I can choose between window and aisle? If I were alone in the row, I'd sit in the window seat. But I hate being trapped in the window seat by someone in the aisle seat. And I also hate being the one who traps someone else.

Okay, I made a list.

Window seat:
  • I can lean on the wall to sleep or to scootch away from rowmates
  • I can go to sleep without worrying I'm blocking someone in
  • I can look out the window
  • I don't get whacked in the elbow by everyone walking up the aisle
  • I have to make my rowmate(s) stand up every time I need to go to the bathroom, or else suffer because I can't bear to do it YET AGAIN
  • What if my rowmate GOES TO SLEEP and I NEED TO PEE but CAN'T?

Aisle seat:
  • It's a 7-hour flight and I can get up to walk around without disturbing anyone else
  • I have to get up every time someone else in my row wants to get up
  • What if I fall asleep and LOLL, either into the aisle or on the center-seat person?
  • What if I fall asleep and trap my rowmate(s)?
  • Getting brushed against and/or mouth-breathed on by every single germ-infested person who walks up or down the aisle


I made a poll, over to the right. What's better on a nonstop 7-hour Saturday flight, a WINDOW seat or an AISLE seat?

62 comments:

Nowheymama said...

Window. You can get up and wait in line for the bathroom when your rowmates get up.

Leeann said...

OMG you HAVE to get an aisle. Being hemmed in and TRAPPED for 7 hours on a flight.. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? It is all about CONTROL and that is the aisle seat, woman!!

Here's what you do- be ready to log on at exactly 24 hours prior to the flight departure to claim a section. That way you can get your pick of seats.

But really, aisle, no question.

Anna said...

Aisle, for sure. You're trapped if you have a window; your neighbors might fall asleep and then you'd feel terrible if you need to pee. Plus, it might be cloudy with nothing to see, and aren't you just going to read anyway?

kakaty said...

I travel a lot and like the exit row window seat or the bulkhead window seat the best. I like it becuase I can curl up with the window and ignore the rest of the row and I never really have to bother anyone. Because if you AREN'T in the window seat you pretty much know that you will have to let others in the row out once or twice during the trip. So unless you think you are going to have to pee 5 times during the flight go for the window seat with extra leg room.
Oh and seatguru.com can tell you of any pitfalls of certian seats on any given aircraft. Just look up your carrier and type of plane.

Becky said...

I'm with Leeann. Aisle. If you're in the window & your neighbor is a space invader, you really don't have very far you can lean to get away. Plus the control thing she mentioned is big.

As far as which rown to sit in, you can check out seating charts on http://www.seatguru.com/. They have charts for each type of plane flown by each airline, which show good/poor seat selections, and where the galley/lavatories/closets are.

Anonymous said...

A silly question, but is the flight really 7 hrs non-stop? Every long Southwest flight I've been on (and I've flown x-country on SW twice) has at least one stop. Actually, I don't think my answer changes! Window seat, window seat, window seat! Since SW has open seating, the middle ones fill up last, so there might only be one other person on your row. I hate bothering someone to move, but whatever. They knew what they signed up for when they sat in an aisle seat.

Pickles and Dimes said...

Well, on a 7-hour flight, it's a certainty that everyone will have to pee at least once, so I'd take the window. I know my own bathroom visit capabilities and would much rather disturb someone only once or twice rather than be at the beck and call of two bathroom visit-happy people next to me if I took the aisle. (Because if I took the aisle, that is EXACTLY what would happen.)

Also, if you're tired of reading, you can just gaze out the window and no one thinks twice, but if you gaze out into the aisle, you're creepy. :)

Lawyerish said...

I have to recommend the aisle, given the duration of the flight. In seven hours, I can easily get up to pee five times (in part because I also bring a big bottle of water on board to ward off dehydration since they come around with drinks about once every frillion years), and if I have to wake up/bother someone else to do that, it makes me miserable.

If you can get an exit row seat, go for it. There will be enough extra leg room that the others in your row MAY be able to squeeze by you when they have to get up without you having to unbuckle and get out into the aisle every time. And in an aisle seat, you wouldn't really have to worry about being the one who would have to remove the escape hatch - that would be the window person's job.

Melio said...

I prefer the window seat. I'm one of those people who can sit there and read a book the entire time. I don't have any desire to get in and out (just use the bathroom before you board). Personally, I probably prefer the middle to the aisle. The aisle is the worst - then you're like "in charge" of getting in and out and making room for the cart and the first one to speak to the attendant when it's drink/snack/trash time. The aisle is entirely too much pressure.

The Gori Wife said...

Window. On a 7 hour flight your rowmates expect you to have to get up to pee occasionally. Also, you can go right before they start lining up to board the plane, and monitor your liquid intake, so you can somewhat control how often you have to get up if your rowmates seem jerkish.

On Southwest, though, like you said, they have pick-your-own seating. But first you get sorted into groups. Each boarding pass has a number and you all line up according to that number There's the A, B and C groups, and numbers from 1-30 (So A1-A30, etc.) They line up the As, then board them, then the B's, then the C's. So obv. the A's get the best picks and the Cs get the dregs, AKA the middle seats.

So how do you get in the A group? It's all about when you check in. And now since so many people check in online, that means no matter how early you get to the airport (I'm an early-arriver for most things in life...) you still end up in the B group (which is still okay, you can still get a Window seat, but you're towards the back of the plane.) In order to get in the A group, and thus the first-choice group, you have to check in online as soon as your can and print your boarding pass. You can still do this if you're checking luggage, you just show up at the airport, show them your printed out boarding pass, and they'll print your luggage tags for you, put them on your bag, and tell you what to do with them. (At some airports they still take them for you, but at some airports you have to lug them yourself over to some central luggage checkpoint.)

Also, like another commenter said, often on long SW flights, they have these weird stopovers. They're really like busstops, and they're much shorter than usual, but you think you're going nonstop in LA and you end up spending 20 minutes in Reno.

And lastly, no one congregates at the front of the plane for the bathroom anymore. Part of the flight attendant's spiel nowadays is about how it's now illegal to congregate and make lines at the front of the plane, so people should either wait to use the front bathroom, or use the back one. So generally, the bulkhead is the best place to be. But unless you are A1 or A2, you won't get it.

Bunny said...

I'm thinking window is more private for sleeping, reading, being undisturbed by either your rowmates or by people in the aisle.
But SW is tricky..figure out how you can get in one of the first boarding grops so you have a choice. If you are a latter boarding group you won't have as many choices. (I know! Fret! Fret!)

Mama Bub said...

I'm so glad people posted about getting in the A group - MUST CHECK IN ONLINE.

And aisle, all the way. I get panicky and sweaty thinking about being stuck in a window seat with strangers next to me for any length of flight.

Once, when I was six months pregnant I flew on a red eye to Washington, D.C. I ended up with a window seat and BEGGED the people sitting next to me to trade with me because I knew they would immediately fall asleep. They said no, but promised they would be up and down several times so there would be NO PROBLEM getting to the bathroom. And you know what those bastards did? Fell asleep before the plane took off and didn't wake up until we were taxi-ing to our arrival gate. I'm way too much of a wuss to wake them up so I suffered in silence the entire time.

The moral of the story? AISLE.

Smiling Mama said...

The passion in these comments is cracking me up! I totally voted aisle, which as of now, is far behind. No matter what, though, I agree with others who suggested being ready, at your computer, exactly 24 hours before departure to check in so you get an A slot! (B is fine, too, as long as it is in the lower numbers!) By the time the Cs get onto the plane they'll mostly be stuck with middle seats.

Giselle said...

Window. Because all those other people going to the bathroom and the drink cart and everything else up and down the aisle will hit your elbow, so you'll be scrunching closer to your middle seat person.

Totally window.

heather said...

Window! The aisle people think they are in control but that's only because most window people are too meek to bug them.

If you want to truly enjoy your alone time you need the window because you can look out, enjoy the view, then curl into your book. No one has any reason to bug you, except to bring you things like drinks and snacks.

If you are in the aisle, you have people bugging you to get up, and they are jostling you to get in the overhead bin, and the food carts are rolling back and forth...probably a lot like trying to have quiet time at your house. =)

parkingathome said...

My issue with planes is not only the get up to pee issue, which can definitely be monitored if needs be, but the issue of TOUCH. I don't want any people to TOUCH ME. If you're in the aisle seat, you can lean away only until the drink cart comes down the aisle. As soon as that cart gets to you, you practically have to hug the middle person, and feel their nasty thigh heat. This is why I like the window, you can get that extra 6 inches of "NO TOUCH" space. Plus, I always like to watch the landing out the window, and you're a creeper if you're looking over two people's shoulders to do so.

Definitely make sure you do the online check in thing though...being in C group is depressing.

-R- said...

If you're going to want to sleep, window. Otherwise, since the flight is 7 hours long, aisle.

jen said...

Window.

1. I don't pee a lot, I have never actually used a bathroom or gotten out of my seat on a flight. I don't "take walks" on the plane.

2. aisle means everyone will be hitting your shoulder as they walk by.

3. window means you can lean on the side wall of the plane.

4. window means you can take your time leaving, even sit in your seat and wait for everyone else to scurry all over each other and then meander out at your leisure without all that line-cutting assertiveness crap.

5. I'd rather bother someone to get up and down than have someone else's crotch at my face level 200,000 times. I am not someone who gets up a lot but it seems like everyone else is.

vague said...

I prefer the window, too, for all the reasons everyone has already said. It's the most private, no one has any reason to bother you, and if you want to nap it's easy to just lean against the wall and drift off. Also, I am like a five-year-old child when it comes to flying in that I never cease to be completely compelled and amazed by the fact that I'm floating up above the clouds. Sometimes I just stare out the window for an hour at a stretch.

In the aisle, there's nowhere to lean and everyone is bugging you. I don't find getting up for the bathroom to be an issue. Usually your rowmate will get up at some point and you can go then, too, without even having to ask her.

Val said...

Make sure to check in online exactly 24 hours before your flight. This will give you a low seating number. If you wait until you get to the airport, you will be in the high numbers and will have to take whatever seat is left - yes, the center seat.

I've flown SW many times, and I check in as soon as I can, but I've gotten numbers in the high 20s (which is still very good), but seeing how I've checked in within 5 minutes of being able that's scary.

beyond said...

as long as you don't a center seat, you should count your blessings. and pray for an empty seat next to you. and hope that that overweight passenger isn't assigned the seat next to you.
if you're in an exit row, any seat is great.
other than that i say would have to say window. (window!)

Therese said...

As a frequent flier and wife of an airline pilot, I say WINDOW seat all the way. It's way more comfy for sleeping purposes and you can get a nice view! Yes, there is some anxiety revolving around getting up to use the restroom and/or stretch legs but it's part of it. If you watch carefully, you can get up when your seatmate(s) do and it's not as bad. Emergency exits definitely have more leg room, but pay attention to those seats as some don't recline (and generally the rows directly in front of an emergency row don't recline -- learned that the hard way!) for safety reasons. I also enjoy the bulkhead (1st row) but HATE not having my carry-on at my seat. There's generally a reason I have the carry-on so the benefit of a little extra room is negligible. Lastly, to ensure a good seat on Southwest, you HAVE to check-in early. I think you can check-in up to 24 hours before your flight online and I say do that. Once you get to your gate you then have to get in the line for seating. It can be a bit of a headache but if you want a decent seat on a long flight, it's worth the sacrifice.

Have fun!

SIL Anna said...

window window window!

because there is some cool stuff to see outside the window on this flight.just don't get one w/ the view totally obscured by the wing.

also: leaning against it= major plus. also, at least one elbow not being banged by fellow passenger/aisle walkers.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I always pick a window seat. After I've read all I can read, I can lean against the window and nap without having someone nudge me to get out of the row. And it's pretty unlikely that a flight attendant will hit you with the cart if you're a few feet away.

Robin said...

Seconding what everyone is saying about checking in online - do it just exactly as close to 24 hours before your flight as you can. I personally would opt for an aisle - I need to pee ALL the time, and I hate bothering people repeatedly to let me out. I do like to sleep on the window, though, so my ideal seat would be a bulkhead window. There's plenty of room to get up without bothering your neighbors, and the lack of carryon storage doesn't bother me - I just get my knitting and my book and keep it in my seat with me at takeoff.

Anonymous said...

On a flight where I think I will need to get up, I like an aisle seat. I flew from Paris to Atlanta two years ago and had an aisle seat. It was very enjoyable to get up and walk around whenever I wanted without having to think about disturbing my row-mates. And our flight had self service drinks that you could go and get.
I was probably aided by the fact that I took a percocet before the flight that was left over from my appendix operation. It was enough to take the edge off and I think prevented me from getting stiff and sore. I know I will never become addicted to those things because they are too valuable to me on these long flights :)

Callie said...

I'm typically a window seat person. However, I always travel with someone who I don't mind pestering if I have to get up multiple times during the trip. Since you don't have that luxury, I would have to say aisle.

You need to think of yourself, and your comfort. I think aisle would be the way to go.

Dr. Maureen said...

I say aisle, because I like to have the OPTION of getting up to walk around for no reason, and I feel bad bugging my seatmate. That said, in my experience, you won't get to choose anyway because people are willing to line up at the gate the day before the flight in order to get their first choice seat on a Southwest flight. Me, I'd rather sit till they call and risk a "bad" seat. Because I also think most of the seats are pretty much the same.

Emily said...

Window, window, window. How many times do you have to pee in 7 hours? Maybe 2? But you'll probably really want to sleep and having that window to lean on is a major advantage!

Miss Grace said...

WINDOW. The person who wants the aisle makes a commitment to Not Be Pissed if they have to get up to let you out. And that window lean is CRITICAL. Plus you don't want to get your elbow bumped by the drink cart.

samantha jo campen said...

I voted for Window because I like to lay my head on something to get snuggly if I want to snooze. Can't do that if you're in the aisle. Plus you can get jacked by everyone walking by in the aisle; if you have the window it's your own little haven.

Shannon said...

The window really is better. You don't get more leg room on the aisle because you really can't just stick your legs out in the aisle. There's too much traffic up and down with people going to the bathroom and flight attendants. And getting up every time someone else in your row wants to go to the bathroom is not fun. I agree - go pee when others in your row get up to pee. Leaning on the window is awesome and having a view out the window is also way better.

moojoose said...

AISLE: You don't want to be trapped that long and you want fall into a restful enough sleep to trap anyone else. Trust me. Just did it a month ago.

Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
honeybecke said...

I like the window seat personally. Ok, listen up this is important. The row I always chose is the second exit row in the middle of the plane. There are two exit rows grouped together here. The reason being is that the FIRST exit row seats DO NOT RECLINE and so therefore, you have no one shoving back into your lap for a cuddle.

So, second exit row all the way.

Jen - Mom of 4 said...

I'm flying for the first time in 10years on Friday and I never thought about any of this - I'm totally freaking out now!

Kristi said...

Um, did you just refer to The Great Target as though it/he/she were GOD?! Wow. And I thought Iiii loved Target.

Aisle. But of course I'd say that, I'm pregnant with a pea for a bladder.

Rachel said...

WINDOW. I fly Southwest all the time and always get a window seat. I'd rather crawl over a stranger than have a stranger crawl over me to get to the bathroom.

Check in online exactly 24 hours before your flight leaves and you'll be in boarding group A and you'll have your pick of seats! I say go for the exit row too, for such a long flight.

Hotch Potchery said...

Aisle. I HATE having to ask someone to get up so I can get past to go to the bathroom, and if they are sleeping, I would almost rather pee on myself.

Aisle.

Aisle.

d e v a n said...

Aisle!
You get more leg room. You can get up whenever you want.
You can get up whenever want. AND?
You can get up whenever you want.

Aisle.

Alice said...

i am SO surprised so many people want the aisle! i HATE the aisle. you are absolutely guaranteed to get smacked in the shoulder or the foot by the stupid beverage cart at least once, especially if you relax / sleep and end up slouched in your seat a little. and i hate haviung to get up whenever my inside seat people want to. i'd much rather make THEM get up ;-)

(although, as a window-lover, i do try to go to the bathroom whenever my aisle companion does, so that we're limiting the number of times everyone has to get up. alleviates the guilt.)

Kelsey said...

Hello strong opinions! You'd think you'd asked about bathing your children or something...

I prefer the window - mostly because of the leaning and sleeping factor.

Seven hours is a long flight - I would want a nap!

Mary said...

Whatever you choose, you should figure out how early you can check in online and do that ASAP so you can be in the A seating group. Then you'll get your pick of seats!

Mairzy said...

I say window. It's easier to prop up your head and sleep, and you can always stare out at the clouds, pretending you're utterly absorbed, if you don't want to talk to your seatmate.

Haven't read the other comments, so I don't know if anybody else has advised you not to be overly friendly at first with your seatmate. I don't start conversations with them until about twenty minutes until we land. That way we avoid being trapped in a polite acquaintance and small talk for hours. And that extra bit of advice is FREE!

Rah said...

Perhaps this is a self-focused outlook. But I would rather be the Disturber, than to be the Disturbee. If you are the Disturbee, you must deal with interruptions from TWO people who will be needing to get by you, say, 3-4 times each on a 7-hour flight, whereas if you are the Disturber, you only get annoyed when it's YOUR bladder in play. In addition, on the aisle you get bumped umpty-million times by other (non-rowmate) people on their way to and from the W.C. You are also called on to PASS things over to seatmate A & B, and receive them back (icky trash--euuuw) . Also, the window seat is an easier place to isolate and sleep or read. Also you can take pix out the window. And see beautiful scenery and lovely sunsets. And scary lightening for that matter, but since you are in the window seat, YOU get to close the little shade. Nope, I'm a confirmed window sitter.

Whimsy said...

I say window, like so many people, for all the same reasons.

But here's what I suggest: try both. Go window on the way out, and aisle on the way back. Or vice versa. Really, I like them both for different reasons. When I'm traveling with Alice (which is, really these days, ALWAYS), I kinda like the aisle because I have better access to walking up and down the aisle with her. But at the same time, window sitting is much more nap friendly. So there you go.

Also: I think you're very brave to ask everyone's opinion because all of these thoughts and all of these very good points that everyone is making would quite literally make me explode with the OPTION-NESS of it all.

Let's make this comment that much longer, shall we? And let me add that if I could make an additional travel suggestion for you, it would be that you make your blog updateable by cell phone (easy to do) so that you can give us the play-by-play at the airport. I did it recently and it totally made some of the more AWFUL travel experiences doable because it felt like I was talking to all my blog friends through the whole process. It was awesome. (Of course, there's always Twitter, which sort of does the same thing, without the MILLIONS of blog updates on a single day, so nevermind. Am silly.)

Happy flying!!!

Kathy said...

Aisle! If your rowmates are unworth of small talk, there's always the person across the (very small) aisle to talk to!

Erin said...

A SEVEN HOUR FLIGHT? Where are you going? To the MOON?

I love window seats if flying alone. I feel like I can turn off, just doze or stare out at the clouds. In the aisle, I feel like I have to be ENGAGED. Plus there's nothing to lean on, which is a major factor. You can time your bathroom break for right after they finish handing out snacks. No one really sleeps through that in an aisle seat.

Omaha Mama said...

Window on the exit row. Then there is plenty of room to get out and you have the benefit of seeing out. Best of all worlds.
Traveling alone is fantastic. I like to pretend that I'm someone different, even if I act no different on the outside. I usually order ginger ale for kicks, because I never drink it in real life.
There ya have it. :-)

Julie said...

Best choice - a train or a car. I have an irrational fear of flying. I'm talking, white-knuckled, panic-stricken terror. I guess if forced to fly, I'd choose the shortest possible flight with the quickest way out of the plan and a xanax.

Hannah said...

Aisle seat, hands down.

I HATE being trapped in a middle seat (or worse, a window seat) because I inevitably will have to go to the bathroom multiple times and disturb my rowmates every single time I need to get in and out of my seat.

Panicky/trapped feelings definitely increase the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom. In fact, I'm 99% sure I go to the bathroom more often when trapped in the middle/window seats, ESPECIALLY when the person in the aisle has fallen asleep. Aisle is definitely the way to go!

Dawna Drake said...

Aisle seat by a landslide. 7 hours of making your row mates move every time you need to use the washroom? 7 hours of being crammed against the wall of the plane? Boo to that! Plus, in the aisle you get a bit more leg space as long as the drink cart isn't going past (And face it, it's only near you for a couple minutes anyway)

Nicki said...

I would vote for a window seat. I can not, under any circumstances, sleep sitting up in a regular seat without a window to lean against! LOL, you're just like me though, freaking out about these things!

Joanne said...

I have to have an aisle seat, I can't stand having someone else in charge of when I get up, especially on a long flight. What if they fall asleep? Or put on headphones and ignore subtle signs that you want to get out? Aisle. Aisle. AISLE.

Lasha said...

I'm an aisle girl too. I can't stand the feeling of being trapped or closed in. I even need to be on the aisle at the movies!

Alishia said...

All I know is you better check in online 24 hours before your flight takes off or all the old people who regularly travel will be in boarding group A and there will be no hope for you to have anything but a middle seat. Quite a run-on! (I know this because my dad is one of those people that travels a lot. He frequently leaves social events so that he can check in to his SW flights.) I'm having my third c-section on Wednesday and I keep thinking of people like you, so thanks for the memories! xoxo

pseudostoops said...

Is it embarrassing to admit that I've always been an aisle girl, but the zealous advocacy of some of these comments is causing me to reconsider my position?

Also, SEVEN HOURS? I was not aware that Southwest flew to the MOON. Good grief, that's a long flight. Seriously, even when I was living in Boston and flying semi-regularly to LA, that was only, what, 6? Seven is veering into international flight territory, which in my view means they should feed you proper food and give you free booze.

willikat said...

Mos def the window. I'd much rather have it anyday, but I usually don't have to pee much, dehydration be damned, i don't drink much on hte plane. But I also think on a seven hour flight aisle poeple do expect that you'll have to go, so you don't have to feel like you're offending people.
Plus I take xanax and zone right the heck out because I HATE flying. And the extra lean-against surface makes it so much more comfortable. But if yo'ure a leg room kind of girl, then it's the aisle seat for you.

aibee said...

Seemingly Unrelated Question time: Just how many of those Buzz Muffins have you eaten today?

misguided mommy said...

I second aibee's question.

isle isle isle. I pee a lot, I need access to the bathroom

I'm doing a give away make sure to enter I'm giving away a local (to you) prize, http://www.misguidedmommy.com/blog/182/Put-your-study-hats-on

Farrell said...

i have to do aisle bc i pee too much.

Susanica said...

Hmmm...you can for sure get the seat of your choice by ensuring yourself a spot in the front of group B by...are you ready?...taking Henry! "Calling all parents with small children"! He's not two yet right so he's free! This way you can have your choice of window or aisle and I'm sure he'd be no trouble at all ;-)

Swistle you crack me up. -Monica