I’ve long been on #TeamWindowSeat. A look at my OpenFlights stats reveals that 70% of the segments I’ve flown to date have been at the window. Seeing the world from the sky never gets old, and it is one of the greatest enjoyments for me when traveling.

But sitting at the window seat has its downsides, the foremost of which is that you’re pinned in by 1 or 2 other people. Unless you’re flying business with aisle access, I guess, which is the best of all worlds. Schlepping it in economy, though, you’re guaranteed to have neighbors. Over time, I’ve developed some general rules that I follow when flying at the window:

Use the Lav When The Others Do

This is rule #1. Or the #1 rule. One of the more annoying aspects of sitting in a non-window-seat is that the window seat passenger invariably needs to get up to use the lavatory. In most cases, this happens once, maybe twice during a cross-country flight. However, every once in a while I get a passenger that needs to use the lav several times.

When I’m on the aisle, this generally does not bug me. But I hate being “that guy” when at the window. While most folks are nice, I’ve gotten a death glare a couple times when I indicated that I needed to get up (this has actually prompted me to choose aisle seats on longer flights).

To mitigate the issue, it’s simply best to get up when at least one of the others does. Get up, stretch your legs, and use the lav. When they return, they’ll see you’re gone and will be prepared to let you back in. Easiest way to deal with the situation, especially if you have a grumpy seat mate or two.

a child looking out a window

Be Considerate With the Shade, But Don’t Let Others Dictate Its Use

Being able to look out the window is the whole reason I book the window, obviously. So unless there is serious light and glare coming through that shade, I tend to keep it up. These days, it seems most people do not.

I’ve had a few instances where another passenger has asked me to lower the shade, which I will typically oblige if in the middle of the flight. However, if we are taking off or landing, it will most certainly stay up, or at least partially up if the dawn light is a serious problem. If someone else wants to dictate its use, they missed their chance. They better book that window seat next time.

Give Up The Center Arm Rest. It’s Not Yours.

This should be a given if you’re at all familiar with common airplane etiquette. The rare times I’ve ended up in a middle seat, I’ve had a couple window seat folks dominate both armrests (one lady is particularly memorable). If the aisle person does as well, you’re in quite the awkward spot.

If you’re at the window, give it up. You have one at the wall, plus you have the whole wall to lean against. The aisle person has extra legroom with the aisle at their side and an arm rest of their own. Give the poor soul in the middle the best experience possible.

a child sitting in a seat on an airplane


There are definitely other airplane etiquette rules that I follow, but these are the majors for riding at the window. I’m a little more split these days about booking the window seat versus the aisle, given how much I’ve traveled lately. But nothing beats a lovely view of a Bay Area airport in the morning. I’ll book the window simply for that view.