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Rookie Wednesday: Just what is appropriate “aisle seat etiquette”? Are you one of “those” people? A guest post by BOB!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

old delta 1st class seat renespoints blog
Lovely Delta 1st class aisle seat?

Recently I was forced to wait for an upgrade (LGA – ATL) until I arrived at the gate which is a change from the old days of 6/5 days out as a Diamond Medallion (DM). Since I was #2 of 10 as a DM (and a Million Miler, not that it matters) I assumed I would have a good chance of clearing the upgrade. BUT, there was only 1 aisle seat remaining. I made sure to get to the gate early to request the aisle on the odd chance I was still in the running for the upgrade.

For many years my main concern for choosing a seat has been aisle seats because I intake considerable amounts of fluids daily and therefore need to release said fluids quite frequently (or maybe BOB is just getting old?). Anyway, there is also the fact I always seem to need to get something from my bag in the overhead bin at least a couple times each and every flight. Maybe I just cannot sit still (do you have these kinds of issues too, or is it just me).

When I am in the aisle seat I always make it a point to tell the person(s) beside me to not hesitate to let me know if they want to get out. I am happy to jump up any time it is needed!

Which brings me to the point of this guest post on Renés blog which is “should there be an official appropriate aisle seat etiquette?” Or, is this just common sense and being polite? Tell me what you think about this experience.

I was flying the redeye from LAX to either DTW or ATL (can’t remember) at the end of a 40 hr marathon mileage run working on future Diamond status extension. I had also achieved DM status and had passed the Million Miler mark 2 weeks previously. Yes, for those 2 weeks I would mention the status to each gate agent along with my reaching MM and would sadly say where is the marching band I was promised (I kid, a little)? For this redeye flight the Redcoat that was working the gate and confirmed my place was now way down on the upgrade list and etc. I then went to wait for boarding as usual.

In a few minutes the redcoat comes walking toward me calling my name and naturally I think I am in trouble! She then hands me a boarding pass for the window seat in FC while saying that she really takes care of “her” Diamonds and Million Milers. In appreciation of my loyalty I think I was given priority over some on the upgrade list (don’t hate or judge me Shena, I went with it)!

As I boarded and took my seat I had to ask the guy in the aisle seat to let me in. So here I am. Feeling good about the upgrade and the effects of the beverages from the Sky Club when suddenly the LA Station Manager comes on board and hands me a small gift bag with a card and ribbons and thanks me for being a loyal MM. After he leaves the plane the pilot comes back to thank me and shake hands. Unfortunately I am trapped in the window seat and due to all of the power cords and devices that the aisle seat ingrate has piled up I was unable to stand and shake the pilot’s hand out of respect. After a few minutes of discussing how long it took for me to attain MM status the pilot went back to his job. Naturally I was feeling just GREAT due to all the attention until after about an hour when the effects of the celebratory beverages hit me again. Uh-oh.

Upon asking aisle seat ingrate dude to get out so I can use the lavatory it was obvious I was a HUGE inconvenience to his day. Next the aisle seat ingrate gets up and leaves ipod, ipad, cell phone, and even his computer sitting out in the seat and arm rest with power cords attached every where!

I am thinking this is just SWELL! I get to climb out without tripping and falling due to being tangled up in all of these cords. (Oh how I wanted to intentionally step on them and rip them out of the connection, but I didn’t) You can imagine this happened all in reverse as I returned to my seat in a bit.

Unfortunately my DM and MM celebration flight lost all excitement as I had to use the lav 2 more times. (Again, don’t judge, it was the redeye!) Oh, but wait there is more.

When I did get the chance to get my PC out and attempt to use it EVERY power outlet and USB port was being used by this aisle seat etiquette depraved ingrate dude. This was one time I wish I had over eaten the 3 bean soup in the Sky Club just before my flight (oh, please, don’t even pretend you have never done that one before)! 😉

Now to make this scenario seem even more surreal the aisle seat etiquette depraved ingrate woman in front of my aisle seat etiquette depraved ingrate dude was incredibly high maintenance and full of complaints for the FAs. She immediately crammed her seat all the way back even before take off (hello MJ on Travel). This action just added to the joy of exiting my seat as described above. I was able to enjoy a few “looks of love” when I had to grab her seat to help me exit the “electronics warehouse showcase” around aisle seat etiquette depraved ingrate’s seat.

Was it just that the aisle etiquette depraved travelers were from California? No, I have noticed the same inconsiderate action from select far east coast travelers as well. Maybe it is a coastal thing?

Oh but let us not stop here (even if you wish BOB would a this point)! There are the aisle seat ingrate types that will not get out of his bulkhead aisle seat and expects you to vault around and out to get out of your window seat. Gosh I hate those types too! All the while looking at me with disdain for the massive inconvenience!

Perhaps these extreme aisle seat etiquette violators were in First Class and this does not happen “behind the curtain”? I have noticed that all travelers behind the curtain these days are in agony and do not seem to mind letting center or window seat occupants exit for the lavatory or overhead bin access. (As a DM and MM with Delta I am “enjoying” riding behind the curtain now more than ever so I know what I am talking about here too)!

Speaking of redeyes what about the aisle seat ingrate who goes to sleep and will not easily wake up to let you out. Or, let us not forget those aisle seat etiquette depraved ingrates who insist on taking up more than their share of the center arm rest as if it is free space. Pity the middle seat flyer when this happens behind the curtain!

Unfortunately these “aisle seat offending” ingrates will not be reading this post but at least there are many considerate travelers who do read this! Perhaps we should start shaming these offenders with appropriate pictures?

For my next guest post tirade I am thinking about: “Bulkhead Etiquette Depraved Ingrates who Cram the seat all the way back in your face” I mean how much stinking room do you really need? – BOB!



Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I would definitely start shaming for sure.

    I prefer aisle seats for the same reason; I also don’t use electronics when sitting in said aisle seat (I’ll read a book). It’s easier to put a book down when my seat mate needs to get passed me.

    I’m not a particularly frequent traveler – just a polite one.

  2. Captain Kirk Reply

    If it was a red eye, than this guy should have been sleeping. If he left some items plugged in to charge I could see doing that, but to have several all plugged in at once, that means he is a clown. You should have crop dusted him every time you got up to use the bathroom too.

  3. I bet he’s thinking the exact opposite about how a “seasoned MM” traveler kept interrupting him 3 or 4 times in a single flight to get to the bathroom. My strategy is to always be upfront…maybe not enought time since you got the last minute upgrade. if I were in your situation, I would’ve said “I like to get up a lot to hit the restroom during these flights and stretch my legs. I know it’s a redeye and you’re prob thinking about some sleep. Do you want to switch?” If he declines, then I’d not have a shadow of remorse in asking him to get out of the way every time I hit the lav. Just my two cents.

  4. Aisle seat guy was a certified donkey. I’m tall, I always get the aisle when possible and bottom line: If you’re on the aisle and don’t like accommodating row mates getting up, don’t sit on the aisle. As for the outlets, I’m not a fan of confrontation but it’s up to you to claim what’s yours. Something along the lines of, “I see there are 4 outlets for the 2 of us here – which 2 of yours should I unplug?”

  5. +1 with Mark. What a [jerk] though for having all those electronics out. Totally unnecessary unless his electronics drain quickly.

  6. I like to sit back, relax and have beverages and “unwind” from info. Do not watch movies, play with phones, etc. even long international flights. Usually I ask aisle person if “unfortunately” with a window seat if that person is going to set up “office” that it would be better to switch seats unless person does not mind getting up a few times for lavatory. It works sometimes and I assure no problem to get up as many times passenger next to my seat asks. Even when in aisle seat I would let person in window seat before take off just inform when wanting to exit into aisle. Prefer bulkhead seat if window seat is only available.

  7. I prefer an aisle seat for the same reason. I use the bathroom a lot. I have no issues getting up out of my aisle seat to let the window use the lav (although I don’t understand why people that get up every hour like I do chose window seats when aisles are available) but always feel guilty asking the person in the aisle seat to move seeing I get up every 60 to 90 minutes. But in the cases I get a window seat it is because I was upgraded at the gate and no aisles were available (I always get to the gate early and request the aisle seat if I think I’ll clear or if the aisle isn’t available I find the window bulkhead easiest to get out and will request that if an aisle isn’t available).

    I don’t feel guilty asking the aisle person to move. I figure that’s one of the downfalls of sitting in aisle. If they wanted to sleep the whole flight and don’t get up they should have chosen the window (I would take windows on a redeye if I had a healthy bladder).

    As far as all the cables go, I have charged a couple devices. If it’s a red eye and I’ve been using my phone all day I’ll want it charged for landing and if my ipad is running low on juice I may need ot charge that also but have a dual USB plug outlet. Taking both outlets is totally unacceptable unless you ask your seatmate if he is going to use his and if he says no I don’t see any harm in using both. I have been on flights before where the seatmate was using both and if my ipad starts running low I just tell the seatmate I need an outlet and it’s never been an issue.

  8. I’m an aisle girl. I get up a lot for the bathroom, the getting things out, and just to stretch due to health and circulation. Happy to move for my fellow passengers since air flight attendants give one the dirty look if one dares to do any of my now necessary habits. The aisle guy was not polite. However, communication is key. State your needs, don’t assume, people understand what you need.

  9. I carry a tiny multi-plug adapter with me that I purchased at the dollar store. It allows me to plug in up to 3 separate electronics into one outlet if I needed to. I would just say, “here, this should solve some of the problem; you get three, I get three” and remove one of his plugs. As far as the aisle seat on a red eye: if I have it I always say to my seat mate, “Just wake me anytime you need to get out, I fall back asleep easily. Would you like to get up now before I take a nap?”. Getting up comes with the territory.

  10. Add me to the majority here. I want the aisle so as not to have to bother the other party. I will be getting up every hour or so–mostly bathroom, but also to stretch my legs, get my “fill in blank for what I forgot to get down from overhead earlier,” etc. I am HAPPY to let out the person trapped inside as often as they like as I absolutely understand.

    I’ll tell you the worst type (and I know a few): The ones that will complain either way. I have a friend that thinks people are jerks if they won’t give up their aisle seat so she can sit with her husband, but she would think them very rude if they asked HER to give up HER seat for a similar reason. It works both ways people–pick a side. I choose “I would rather be inconvenienced than to inconvenience others.”

  11. This is more of a rant than a “rookie” post – I don’t think “teaching” rookies to shame others will make flights more enjoyable. Rather I would expect the opposite.

    There are jerks everywhere – responding as a jerk won’t help the situation, it will just increase the percentage of jerks – and in close quarters on a plane that is a bad idea.

    Maybe this was an attempt at humor? If so don’t do it in the name of teaching rookies how to behave as frequent travelers…

    • @GRP – I disagree about it not being a “rookie” topic and besides that many rookie topics are focused on seasoned travelers as they are not award of the topic of the day. Yes this was meant to be funny and to promote thinking. I think this post made rookies and experts alike think about how they fly and what they do when in the aisle seat! Txs for your comment either way.

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