STAFF OPINION: Window versus aisle seats

By Andrew Gotshall | April 5, 2024 4:00pm

Photo courtesy of Andrew Gotshall.

You are sitting on the second leg of your trip to the East Coast. You’ve been cramped and your throat is dry from the air vent pointed at your face. You are wishing that you picked the aisle seat.

I believe that the aisle seat is the best spot to put yourself in a plane. Now, the window seat is a close second, but there are just a few more reasons sitting in the aisle is better than the window.

There are good arguments for both window seats and aisle seats. Window seats allow you to rest your head against the wall or window to sleep, provide views of the scenery during flight and offer more privacy. I especially enjoy the window seat on my travels from SFO to PDX. I’ll usually book a window seat on the side of the plane that is looking east so I can watch all the volcanoes in the Cascade range drift by on the short one hour flight. If there was an instance where I would pick a window seat on purpose, it would be if it was a flight shorter than 2 hours.

However, the downsides of window seats include needing to climb over your neighbor to get up, not having easy access to the aisle and restrooms and potentially having to close the window so your neighbor can sleep. Additionally, as a person with longer legs, I find it cumbersome to clamber into the window seat, especially if someone has already stowed their bags under the seat in front of them.

By contrast, aisle seats provide the ability to get up without disturbing others, to easily access the bathroom and to stretch your legs into the aisle during flight. You also avoid climbing over other passengers and can more readily grab items from the overhead bin. I find that easy access to the overhead bins to grab snacks and extra layers is one of my favorite parts of the aisle. Additionally, I like to take laps around the plane on those longer transatlantic flights when I can. The best way to do this is by securing the aisle seat.

The trade-offs are having less privacy with people and carts passing by, potential bumps from that traffic and lack of a window view. But these pale in comparison to the benefits.

When deciding between window or aisle, factors like duration of the flight, preference for window views, desire for privacy versus mobility and ease of sleeping come into play. Some compromise by choosing an aisle seat in an exit row which has extra legroom. Overall, there are benefits to both options, but I’ll stick with the aisle.

Andrew Gotshall is a photographer for The Beacon. He can be reached at

Have something to say about this? We’re dedicated to publishing a wide variety of viewpoints, and we’d like to hear from you. Voice your opinion in The Beacon.