In case you missed it, political pundit Ann Coulter recently released a Twitter storm directed at Delta Air Lines when the carrier switched her from an aisle to a window seat in the same emergency exit row (the kind of row that has extra legroom). According to Delta, Coulter originally chose a window but then switched back to an aisle. Delta doesn’t say why she was put back in the window, although airlines reassign seats for a myriad of reasons and they state in their contracts of carriage that seats are not guaranteed.
In any case, I was wondering if Coulter realized all the benefits of sitting at the window. I recently asked our 652,000 Twitter followers to weigh in on window vs. aisle and they came up with lots of reasons why windows are better.
Number one, of course, is the view. You’re flying in a chair in the sky, as comedian Louis CK has told audiences. One Twitter follower answered my query about the advantages of window seats in one word: “Clouds.” But besides the view, here are some other advantages:
The second most mentioned reason: the ability to sleep against the cabin wall. It’s a natural headrest, especially if you have a nice fluffy pillow (I always fly with my pillow from home). Also, you won’t be disturbed by seatmates needing to get up if you’re by the window.
As @iammrslamm tweeted, "People NOT crawling over you for every little thing."
Others mentioned that sitting in the aisle means getting bumped constantly by carts, backpacks and other luggage, and other passengers passing through the aisles (I have fairly broad shoulders and get bumped all the time if I end up on the aisle).
More under-seat room
On many aircraft types, several noted, the window seats have more room under the seat in front to stuff a bag.
Let there be light
You can control the window shade. If you like to read books and magazines while flying, the cabin lighting sometimes offers too little illumination. Having natural daylight is a plus.
Some followers reported less air-sickness when sitting at the window (perhaps because looking out at the horizon helps control nausea).
One thing not mentioned by the Tweetosphere was safety. You’ve probably heard the warning “Be careful when opening the overhead bins since items can shift during flight?” Well there’s a reason cabin crew announce that during every flight. Things fall out. I was sitting in an aisle years ago when someone opened the bin a bag clonked me on the head. It hurt but did no lasting damage. However a friend of mine opened a bin on a flight to London and got sued for $20,000 when a large bag crashed on his seatmate’s head (luckily his home insurance paid the claim).
Of course, some of our followers are die-hard aisle seat people. The most frequently mentioned reason was the ability to stick at least one leg into the aisle, which I found odd. These folks were usually tall men. Not sure if sticking your legs in the aisle is such a good idea, either for other passengers and cabin crew or for your feet, but whatever. And the other main reason, of course, was the ability to get up without asking “permission” from seatmates when needing the lav or just for a stretch, which I get.
Me, I’m a window person. I love looking at the clouds and scenery mainly, and controlling the window shade so I can read my book with plenty of light. And I can lean toward the wall of the fuselage to get away from a large person in the middle seat.
One thing I was wondering about the whole Ann Coulter kerfuffle: she was in an exit row, and it’s easy to get up from the window seat window disturbing people in the middle and aisle seats. So what was the big deal really? And I further wonder if the rows on today’s aircraft were spaced so far apart, like they once were, that you could easily get into the aisle from the window seat, whether most people would go for the window. I kind of think the answer is yes.