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Thursday, January 03, 2008

What’s the Deal with the Isle Seat?

People, what is the deal with the middle seat? I ask this because of a recent experience on a flight from Newark, NJ to Los Angeles airport and an experience that Ashley and I had on our way home from New York.

Our situation is that when our flight was rebooked, we ended up in the same row in First Class (thanks to system-wide upgrades from hitting 1k status) – but sitting apart from each other in the same row, but both with window seats.

Upon boarding the plane and hoping for some goodwill on Christmas Day I asked the gentleman next to me, Al Abayan (a director with the fashion designer with Number (N)ine) if he would consider trading with me so Ashley and I could sit together. He thought briefly, then quickly responded that he really wanted the isle. I figured so much for the Christmas goodwill and that he must have a good reason for wanting to sit in the isle – in order to make use of it.

I also followed suit and asked the gentleman sitting next to Ashley – his name I cannot recall – and receive a similar answer. He really preferred the isle seat.

Oh well, five hours in a plane not sitting next to each other is ok – a little bit of a bummer on Christmas, but hey – at least we ended up on the flight we wanted.

What really perplexed me is that neither gentleman made ANY use whatsoever of their situation with the isle seats. They did not get up frequently, they did not spread out even slightly into the isle, they were not in their baggage in the overhead compartments, and they did not use the restroom frequently. I just did not get it.

In fact, it was quite the opposite. They both slept the entire time. On several occasions both Ashley and I, with no remorse had to wake them in order to use the restroom a couple of times. By sitting in the isles, they were both disturbed more often than they would have sitting by the window or trading with me.

I just did not get it, why were they so insistent in having the isle seat?

Interestingly, I sense that Al may have felt a little guilty about his response, since just before take-off he asked me if the seats were full when we booked our flight. Although I really wanted to have a sarcastic reply in terms of yes – we intentionally did this and now want to change – I didn't. Rather, I briefly explained our situation having been stranded in New York City the previous day. However, he still did not offer to change with us. ;-)

Are you like this and you “have” to be sitting in the isle seat? What is your reason or need? Please help me understand with a comment below.


Anonymous said...

I travel frequently for a living. I will not leave the house if I do not have a reserved isle seat. I am a big man, and sitting in a window seat causes me to have to fold myself sideways at the hip. My other should goes 6 inches into the seat next to me, and it sucks for both me, and the person next to me. That, and I would rather get bumped by the occasional beverage cart than spend two hours touching a stranger.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is a 3 year old question, but ah, the beauty of the internet, things seem like they happened when you read it. :)

Since you were bumped up, perhaps the two aisle sitters not only had a preference for the aisle but also paid for 1st Class tickets, and as such were merely maintaining what they booked and paid for, which would be considerable. Al's inquiry about your booking might have been his way of asking if you booked First Class or just happened to get bumped up, since theoretically no one booking at that price level would ever book separate seats. He may have thought at that point,"Be happy you're even IN First Class."

I prefer aisle seats myself. It's not only for the fact that you can get up freely if you want, which I do (as you surmised might be a reason) but it's also so as not to be enclosed by someone on one side and a window wall on the other. Even if one doesn't spread out into it, there's a more open feeling from being on the aisle.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a short guy and even I prefer the isle seat. Wit the window seat your left and right side are constantly without much room, and your legs are more confined. isle seat gives u more freedom and comfort. Choose window if it's your first time flying or if you like the view.