Window Seat Dilemma – Inconveniencing The Aisle Seatmate

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Sitting in the aisle seat comes with some advantages like extra shoulder space, the ability to get up at your leisure and controlling the aisle access of your seatmates. But it is not without inconvenience.

For example, on a recent long (4+ hour) domestic flight I was seated in the First Class window seat on a Delta 767 and needed to get into the aisle. This posed two challenges given the aisle seatmate was using a laptop and had a headset on.

This instantly reminded me of a scene from Seinfeld where Elaine had a window seat but her seatmate wouldn’t allow her to pass.

First, I had to get my aisle seatmates attention to indicate I needed to get up. This would obviously inconvenience the seatmate. I always ask politely if they can allow me to pass by. Second, the aisle seatmate would either have to get up or move their legs allow me to pass.

The first challenge was easy to overcome. I simply motioned and explained my need to get in the aisle.

The second was a bit more odd. Some people seem to think sliding their legs to one side or bunching up their knees makes for the convenience of both parties. I disagree and here is why.

If the aisle seatmate stays in the seat while having the window seatmate pass, two things happen. The aisle seatmate gets to stay seated but has to take the time to adjust their position. The window seatmate must climb past the other seatmate and may have to bother the seatmate in front by holding onto or bumping the seat in front. And the most inconvenient part (depending on your perspective of course) for the aisle seatmate that wouldn’t get up, is they get a primetime view of their seatmate’s posterior as the window seatmate climbs overtop / infront of them.

So this begs the question of why doesn’t the aisle seatmate just stand up for a moment to let the window seatmate pass? I’d say it is inexperience.

Case in point. When I left the seat, my seatmate preferred to pull up their knees and as a result I slid through the tight space between their knees and the reclined seat in front. I had to hold on to the seat in front just to get by. On the way back into my seat, the seatmate in front unreclined their seat and my aisle seatmate proceeded to unbuckle their seatbelt and get out of their seat to let me pass.

I’d say that was a learning point for the aisle seatmate on just how much easier it is to all parties involved.

Those of you with a preference for aisle seats, what is your preferred way to be inconvenienced by your window seatmate and why?

For you window lovers out there, what’s your funniest / weirdest story about getting out of a window seat?

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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. I am an aisle and I prefer to get up, out of the way, rather than having a face-full of someone else. I also use it as an opportunity to stretch, work out the kinks in my back, etc.

    I also hate hate hate when the person behind me grabs the top of my seat and yanks it back, trying to use it as an assist to get in / get out of their seat. I’ve spilled too many drink and had my hair pulled too many times by those that somehow think that aircraft seats are solid steel.

  2. I prefer the aisle. I stand in the aisle and try to let window passenger know that they are not inconveniencing me at all

  3. When I am in an aisle seat, I won’t let the window seat passenger get up unless he/she agrees to permanently switch seats. I shouldn’t be inconvenienced because they have a weak bladder or sphincter muscles.

  4. Seriously joe! I hear ya! I make the window person really wait it out, and if they MUST get up, i have them bring me back a drink for my inconvenience!

  5. I tend to always get a window seat and will admit that I only inconvenience the aisle seater when i REALLY need to go.
    Otherwise, I tend to go to the bathroom whenever the aisle person gets up for a stretch.

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