Essential Etiquette Rules for the Window, Center, and Aisle Airplane Seats
So you've got an upcoming flight. You've expertly packed your carry-on and you've got more mini travel beauty products than you can count. Now what? Time to brush up on airplane seat etiquette, of course.
We tapped industry experts for their best tips whether you're a window seat enthusiast, aisle adorer, or sitting in the middle.
For the window seat:
1. Limit the "climb over-and-out" moves throughout the flight.
"One way to do so is to keep everything you might need in your seat back pocket," notes Michael Holtz, CEO and founder of luxury travel agency SmartFlyer. A bathroom visit is one thing, but constantly getting up to grab something from the overhead bin can be a real nuisance. (Note: This advice applies to those sitting in the center seat, too.)
2. Consider this important thing before you book the window seat.
"If you are the type who needs to go to the restroom frequently, be conscientious enough to get an aisle seat instead. There is no hard-and-fast rule on the number of times a window seat passenger should go to the restroom but a typical gauge would be the number of meal services during the flight (one each)," shares Bino Chua, editor of I Wander. "If it is an overnight flight, one extra restroom visit is understandable. For instance, during a 10-hour overnight flight with two meal services, having two or three restroom visits would be understandable."
Speaking of the restroom, keep this in mind: "If possible, wait until your row mates have awaken to go to the bathroom. Better yet, go when they go, so there are fewer disruptions," says Louisa Gehring, Owner / Luxury Travel Advisor, Gehring Travel. (Center seat, we're again looking at you, also.)
3. Close the shade.
"On long-haul flights (especially when your aisle mates might be watching a movie), be sure to lower the blinds. Having the window seat comes with a few extra things on my check list, and one of them is controlling the window," says Holtz.
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For the center seat:
1. Claim both armrests.
Yes, you deserve it. "The person in the center set gets both armrests," proclaims Jacquelyn Youst, President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol and Modern Manners and Image Expert. "[In the window seat, you] have a great headrest in the wall of the plane," comments Gehring, and the aisle seat can let their head dip off towards the aisle if they nod off. The center seat doesn't have either of these luxuries.
2. As you get up, follow this thoughtful practice.
"When the person in the center seat needs to get up and pass by the person seated next to them, they should turn their body towards them and politely say 'excuse me,'" says Youst. "Never position yourself so that your rear-end is facing the person you are passing by." Duly noted!
3. Striking up a conversation with seatmates? Say "hello" on both sides.
"If we want to be friendly and decide to talk to our 'neighbors,' and they are also open to it, we can introduce each other and communicate with both of them equally," shares Maryanne Parker, Founder of Manor of Manners in San Diego, California. Also,if your aisle and window seatmates are talking over you, feel free to offer your seat up to trade.
For the aisle seat:
1. Be extra nice to your seatmates.
A little courtesy will be much appreciated. "Be mindful that people sitting in the middle or window seat really do mind asking you to get up if they need to get out from their seat. Be gracious and get up without a scowl on your face when asked," offers Erika Moore, VP and GM-US Sales at Travelport.
2. If you can, get up a few times throughout the flight.
As long as the seat belt sign is off and you're physically able, it's okay to take a few brief breaks from your seat. "In the aisle seat, you are the gatekeeper to the bathroom, stretching spots, or overhead bins for your row mates," says Mable Tang, Accounts Director, Thai Airways. "Oftentimes those in the window or middle will follow your lead on when to get up and use the restroom or walk the aisle a few times, so make sure you give them a few opportunities without them needing to ask."
3. Assist to the best of your ability when the snacks cart comes around.
Yep, you can make this whole process faster and more enjoyable for everyone. "When getting served by the flight attendant, try to be helpful in passing along food or beverages and in transmitting any verbal messages from your fellow passengers/seatmates that may not have been heard by the flight attendant," says Moore.
4. Pay attention to any stray cords.
"For those of you who are partial to in-flight entertainment, make sure any cords to your electronics are neatly tucked or wrapped," says Travel Blogger Holly Habeck. "The aisle gets busy at times, and no one wants a fall risk. Not to mention, it's easy for laptops to get pulled off their tray tables when someone snags the attached headphones." For that matter, pay attention to your electronic cords regardless of your seat location.
5. When you land, be prepared to exit as swiftly as possible.
"[B]e ready to get up and exit quickly when it is time to leave, as others in your row may have connecting flights and be in a hurry to exit the aircraft," shares Moore.
Now that you've got kindness at 30,000-feet covered, remember you can let it carry over into your travels when you're not at cruising altitude.