When your work revolves around travel, you establish some personal preferences, on-the-road routines, and strong opinions. For our Travel Showdown series, travel advisors, industry leaders, and Virtuoso staff are facing off over some of travel’s most divisive topics – from packing methods to room service. This month, two editors make their case for where to park it at 30,000 feet: Aisle or Window seat?

Window of Opportunity

Patrick Henry famously declared, “Give me the window seat, or give me death!” OK, sticklers, he demanded “liberty.” But when it comes to the great airplane debate, IMHO, the two are one and the same. Henry was talking about freedom, which the window seat is all about: freedom from beverage carts catching your elbow and toes, freedom from having your destiny dictated by someone else’s bladder, and freedom to simply lean toward the window and fade into one of a plane’s precious few sanctuaries.

It’s not that I don’t like to socialize. I do. Just less so if I’m packed into a human envelope, potentially trapped by a loquacious seatmate who feels compelled to share how he’s pumped to gamble the second he lands in Vegas or how blue-green algae supplements saved her life. With the window seat, you’re also master of darkness (for sleep and screen viewing) and light (for stellar views). Watching the Andes wake during a sunrise flight to Cuzco, for instance, will forever be one of my favorite travel memories.

If you do find yourself seated beside me, though, don’t fret. I’m happy to lean back so you too can take in the views – just as long as we let the scenery do the talking. – Joel Centano, Virtuoso Traveler senior editor

Aisle I Know

On an unfortunate recent flight, I arrived at my row to find two burly men overflowing into each other’s space – and mine. After cursory apologies and waiting for them to squeeze out to let me in, I slipped into my seat beside the window. Thus began an hours-long shoulder-clench and lean-to-the-left in a subconscious effort to minimize my size.

I remember being a window person once: There’s merit to snapping on a neck pillow and dozing off on an overseas flight, awakened only by the scent of warming croissants in the morning. But now cabin space seems smaller every time I board, and the bins’ lower ceiling above window seats certainly doesn’t help. Nor do temperature extremes – I’ll never miss the chill from side-wall AC blasting my ankle. Turns out, the air’s just fine in my new spot within arm’s reach of the drink cart.

Some flyers chafe at being interrupted midmeal to let a neighbor out, but I never mind an excuse to stretch. And traveling with a kid has only increased my appreciation of the ability to stand at will. Plus, who hasn’t witnessed this: Cross-check is complete, the jetway door is open, and your unofficial row leader doesn’t step out at the right moment. Fellow passengers stream past as you stress about making your connection. When you’re Ms. C or D, the roll-aboard is behind you and it’s on with the trip. – Lara Hallock, Virtuoso Life associate editor

Airplane cabin: Ryan Fletcher/Getty Images/iStock

One comment

  1. Aisle Vs Window – Interesting debate

    As from a Ted talk I learnt about the candle problem by Karl Duncker, I would look at aisle vs window the same way. If presented a choice or problem there are many ways to look at it or solve it. As for the aisle seat and why many travelers do like yes it a hassle but it has advantages of easy access and exist while if your the window your now disturb those sited when existing as they may be eating or sleeping on a long haul flight. The problems and solutions to this debate may not end, ultimately it is the design of the aircraft and we as the users have think out of box to solve this dilemma.

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