I’ll concede that a window seat can be great for shorter flights. I like taking pictures of a sunset from 37,000 feet just as much as the next fella. I like leaning against the wall and falling asleep as my saliva performs Chinese water torture on my forearm. I even like the extra privacy it affords me, incremental though it may be.
Even so, the aisle seat is superior for four reasons. These are particularly apt for long-haul travel, but they are true for everyone.
Why an aisle seat is better than a window seat
More convenient to reach the bathroom
My aversion to disturbing my fellow seatmates is more persuasive to my brain than my aching bladder. If I’ve booked a window seat, it’s guaranteed that I’m not going to the bathroom on the flight.
Holding it can become truly nightmarish, depending on the length of your flight (reminiscing about my nonstop flight from Washington, D.C. to Dubai gives me the cold sweats all over again), so the aisle wins handily for me with flights lasting more than a few hours.
Yes, you can go to the bathroom if you’re at the window, but you’ll either have to bother the person(s) next to you to get up and move or do the awkward dance where you try to squeeze past them and their folded-up knees.
You can stretch your legs in the aisle
Here’s something you simply can’t do unless you’re a toddler: Completely stretch out your legs in coach while seated. Not in an annoying way, just intermittently throughout the flight. You shouldn’t set up camp in the middle of the walkway, but stretching your legs every half hour makes such a difference in morale.
Stretching your legs even reduces the claustrophobic vibe of a tight fuselage. Just the knowledge that you can get up whenever you want reduces stress — in my experience, anyway.
It’s easier to reach the overhead bin
This is a double-whammy. While I’m not usually the traveler that digs around in the overhead bin after takeoff (everything’s sorted before I board the plane), it’s nice to have the option. When I remember my headphones are in my other bag, I’m grateful to have the aisle seat.
The much bigger win here is that you can pop your personal item in the overhead bin after everyone’s seated. I store my carry-on and my personal item in the overhead bin when there’s room. This will give you tons more legroom, as you won’t have to perch your feet atop your backpack with your knees above your ears.
Since your personal items (laptop, tablet, food, etc.) tends to be the bag you’re using during your flight, access to the overhead bin now becomes extremely valuable.
You can move about long flights with regularity
You shouldn’t be too concerned about developing blood clots during a flight, but it’s a real thing. It’s called “deep vein thrombosis” (DVT), and it usually occurs in your legs.
The hypothesis is that flights longer than eight hours are contributors to this condition. And moving around instead of sitting for eight hours is the key to preventing it. Those annoying people doing yoga upside down in their seat may have no friends, but they also have no flight-induced blood clots.
DVT isn’t enough of a reason to book yourself an aisle seat, but moving about the cabin on long-haul flights certainly is. You don’t need a reason to walk to the front of the plane and back. And when you sit down again, you’ll feel much better.
I’m team aisle. It’s more convenient, more spacious and even healthier.
Of course, there is a way to avoid cramped seats, the inability to stretch and the necessity to climb over your seatmate to reach the bathroom. You can simply book business or first class seats for free with miles and points.
Many long flights in these cabins are lie-flat seats (even your own cubicle!) with direct aisle access. And even if you’re not next to the aisle, the space between rows allows you to sneak out of your seat with little bother to anyone else.
Check out our beginner’s guide to points and miles and the best airline credit cards to see how easy it can be to book a lie-flat seat for practically zero dollars. And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel posts delivered to your inbox once per day.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
Why we like it
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our top credit cards for both beginners and frequent travelers. It comes with a huge welcome bonus, solid ongoing points earning on bonus categories and some great travel perks. The travel perks like delayed baggage and flight insurance will easily cover the already reasonable annual fee of $95. It earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which is one of the best flexible points currencies: you can transfer to a number of travel partners like Hyatt and United, easily redeem for any type of travel through the Chase portal where you’ll get 25% bonus or even earn straight cash back.
Who is it best for?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for just about anyone. It’s large welcome bonus makes it easy to get immediate value and you’ll easily rack up points with its broad bonus categories, earning double points on all travel and dining purchases. Chase points allow for easy redemptions made through the Chase Travel Portal, which allows you to book any sort of travel with no blackout dates, and you’ll get better value from your points compared to other bank’s travel portals.
Credit Score Recommended
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Good to Excellent
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
- Valuable sign up bonus
- Flexible points
- Unique transfer partners like Hyatt and United
- Great travel and trip delay insurance
- $95 annual fee
- Ongoing points earning is lower compared to other cards
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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