How to Survive Not Having an Aisle Seat

How to survive not having an aisle seat

Life is hard if you’re someone who can’t sit still, life is harder when you end up without an aisle seat on a miserably long plane ride. Take this from someone who’s been on more planes than trains. Every summer I go back to Hong Kong from Toronto, which means every summer I get to go on two 15-hour plane rides. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll get an aisle seat…but sometimes I’ll get really lucky and get stuck with the window (or middle) seat. The best is when I end up next to someone in the aisle seat who falls into a deep coma the moment the plane takes off and apparently got their bladder removed for 15 hours. So, asides from the painfully obvious solution to ask to switch seats, because if they refuse, this is how you can still manage.

Stretch in your seat

Stretch whenever you can! Even if it means standing up in your seat and looking odd. Stretching is so important when you’re all cooped for a long period of time. There are some super easy stretches you can do so you’re not rigid and mummified at the end of the flight.

Follow them out

If for some miraculous reason they get up to go use the washroom, follow them out. Even if you don’t need to go, just get up and hang out in the aisle until they come back. This is the best time to stretch your legs.

Drink less liquids

Or don’t drink anything at all and (figuratively) die of dehydration. I’ve encountered countless of travelers who never once have to use the washroom over a long duration of travel time. I also notice they don’t drink as much liquids either, so maybe that’s their trick. I like to keep myself hydrated during a long plane ride though, so drinking less liquids isn’t really one of my options. I do try to pace myself in hopes that, like alcohol, it will hit me slower (but I’m pretty sure that’s not how the human body works).

Be a ninja

This one must be tested on your own caution because it is risky and you may come off repugnant and creepy. If your aisle best friend is fast asleep and you simply can’t hold it in anymore, you can try to jump over them. I know, the straight forward way is to politely tap them on the shoulder, wake them up and go about your business. However, if you’ve woken them up 3 times in the last half hour, you’re going to have to be a decent human being and find another way. Here’s how I do it, I first decide which view (front or back) would be less intrusive for my aisle friend to wake up to, then I place both hands on the top of the seat to ready myself for the leap. Holding onto the seat, lift one leg over your aisle buddy (I usually have to be on my tippy toe so nothing touches them), shift your weight to your arms and graciously lift your other leg over. And now you’ve graduated as a ballerina ninja.
(Please note, I also only do this to those of the same gender as me to avoid embarrassment.)

wings quotes

I realized I talked about surviving the middle (or window) seat mostly in the aspect of having to constantly go to the washroom, mainly because that’s usually my biggest issue. However, if you are one to stay comfortably sane without having to move from your seat, please, if you ever get an aisle seat, switch with us. Trust me, you really don’t want to wake up to someone stealthily climbing over you to get out of their seat. Nonetheless, I wish you all happy travels!

[All images are my own]

Claudia Cheung

  • Yeah, occasionally I get the middle seat..but I dare not try my ninja skills out 😉