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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Aisle Privileges?

When I fly I always book an aisle seat in advance if possible. Of course, only crazy people book a middle seat, but some prefer to look out the window and opt to be boxed in.

As I age, and as my prostrate grows, my ability to endure long flights seated the entire time diminishes. I prefer easy access to the aisle mainly for that, but also so I can quickly retrieve my overhead luggage when we land. When it's my turn to exit via the aisle I don't want to hold people up by getting my stuff from the overhead.

What are your seat privileges on a plane? There are some unwritten rules when flying that I'll share from my experiences. Since these are not written it is an informal code of conduct, but one I think veteran travelers share.

First, the middle seat. Yes, that dreaded piece of real estate in no sane man's land. It would seem they get no privileges, doesn't it? Ah, but they do get one minor one. The unwritten code of conduct offers them that 1 1/2 inch of armrest real estate on each side of them. Sounds small, I know, but with seat widths as small as 17 inches, it can represent a nice increase. Now, all do not adhere to this rule, but I believe veteran travelers do.

Secondly, the window seat. What do they get? Well, obviously they get the window! They enjoy the privilege of keeping the shade open or closed. But do the other passengers in the row get a say in it? Well, I follow the unwritten rule the window guy controls it. I've only had one incident while sitting at a window seat where the aisle guy infringed. On an international flight I had the shade down as I always do, in respect of those watching movies. But the aisle guy reached over me to open it without a word. Rather rude I thought, but being an international flight with different nationalities, I chalked it up to ignorance of etiquette. I simply closed it again and gave him a look. He did not re-engage.

But the main point I wanted to get to is the aisle seat. Does the aisle guy get any special privileges? I say no! Aisle guy gets easy egress via aisle, but that's not a privilege. Aisle guy is not gate keeper to the aisle for the captive passengers in the middle and window seats.

On a recent domestic flight I was flying in first class on a 2-2 configuration. I was upgraded late and received an window seat. I was seated by an older lady of size. I was late for my connection due to my late connecting flight and ran to my connection, something I hadn't done in a long time.

When I arrived the gate door was closed as I was inside the 10 minute window, yet two minutes prior to take off. Miraculously the gate agent opened the door and allowed me to board. Never had that happen before!

Well, when I was to scoot past my lady seat mate to my window seat she gave that stare. The one telling me she was upset I was taking that seat beside her so late, I'm sure she was secure in her belief of the coveted empty seat beside her after the door closed.

Anyway, fast forward to in-flight. After we reached cruising altitude the seatbelt light was extinguished and we were "free to move about the cabin ". Since I had no opportunity to go between flights I needed to go...bad.

The lady next to me had already taken out her tray table in preparation for snacks and drinks, but none were served yet. Instead she was using it to read her book. I asked if I could slide by her to go to the bathroom and at first she just stared. Then she said, "Well I guess I can put my book away, put my tray table back and get up to let you out".

What? How rude! Does she think she is the aisle monitor ? That she has a privilege and right to the aisle that no one inside can access without permission?

I was a bit peaved, but against my nature I bit my tongue. I mean what am I going to do? Get into it with an entitled, elderly lady? I think, being a person of size made it a bit more cumbersome for her and added to her attitude. I just let it go and did my business, dreading my return to my seat. However, she never got up in my effort to squeeze back in. Add to that the guy in front had his chair back! I simply pushed my way through enduring the horror of touching body parts.

My point in telling this story is to inform: There Are No Aisle Privileges!!!!! If you take the aisle seat, be courteous to those imprisoned within.

(I can already anticipate Roger's comment: "That's why I don't like to fly". I can't argue with his point. It can really suck being crammed in a flying box of strangers with no means of escape).

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