Quick Etiquette Tip: How to get to a non-aisle seat

Unless you’re in a bulkhead or an exit row, there is not a lot of room between you and the seat in front of you. So when you’re seated in an aisle seat, why do people insist on trying to squeeze by in front of you into the middle or window seats? Especially when they have large shoulder bags?? It truly baffles me. Here are my tips for getting into your non-aisle seat as gracefully as possible.

  • When you first get to your row, put your rollaboard in the overhead bin before alerting the person sitting in the aisle that you need into the row.
  • Once you’re ready to sit, don’t just try to squeeze through! Politely let the person sitting in the aisle that you need in. I usually say something like, “Hi, I’m sitting in the window seat.” Some people say, “Excuse me, I’m sitting there.” This lets the aisle person know they need to stand up to let you into the row. I’ve had people stop at my row and stare at me, or gesture like, “Hey you, get outta my way,” but that seems rude to me, and there’s really no need to be rude.
  • As you’re moving into the row, take care not to hit people with your bag.
  • If you need additional leverage, try not to grab the seat in front of you if someone is sitting there. Grab your own seat or an empty one.
  • For those of you sitting in the aisle, don’t fasten your seatbelt or get stuff set up on your tray table until your row has filled in.

Getting into the middle or window seats can be done quickly, easily, and with minimal fuss. And isn’t that always the goal for travel?

Readers, how do you ask someone seated in the aisle to move so you can get to your middle or window seat?


  1. And another thing NOT to do, ask the aisle person if they will scoot over. This just creates an awkward moment that can spill over to the remainder of the flight sitting in close quarters.

  2. I’m a big person, so I’ll always politely ask the aisle seat person to get up. It just saves a lot of embarrassment for all when I accidentally wind up on their lap because I’m a klutz.

  3. I have had several people in the aisle seat turn sideways so I can slide into or out of my window/middle seat. WTF? I am like 6’2″ and 230 lbs. Not going to happen!!

  4. I always sit aisle exit row and I would say 95% of my row mates don’t even give me the chance to get up. When I proactively attempt to get up and allow them easy access they insist and start to crawl over me before I even have a chance to move. One of my biggest pet peeves among fellow travelers.

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