Are Aisle Seats More Popular Than Window Seats Now?

After the Alaska Airlines door blowout, some social media users are swearing off window seats.

Most popular airplane seats
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

Seating preferences on airplanes is a hot topic right now. One part of the discussion has centered the eternal debate on what rights window passengers have, versus non-window seat passengers. And then there's the timely question of safety. After the fuselage blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight, a lot of online conversation has revolved around the good fortune that no one was seated in the chair directly next to the suddenly missing door. The topic even made it to Saturday Night Live, in a relatively scathing skit about the Alaska Airlines incident.

click to play video

But with all of this hullabaloo our seat preferences, what do people actually prefer? Is all of this window versus aisle seat debate masking a secret preference for the middle seat? Definitely not. According to the just-released 2024 State of Travel report from Going, only 1% of respondents to their poll prefer the middle seat. Instead, 53% of the survey respondents favored window seats 53%, while 46% of respondents preferred the aisle.

According to data Thrillist obtained from United, the new Going data generally aligns with their customers' seating preferences. A United representative told Thrillist that aisle seats and window seats are equally sought after, while middle seats are the least sought after. (Though for those who are loyal window seat passengers, United has just launched a new boarding initiative dubbed "WILMA" which assigns window seat passengers to a higher priority boarding group.)

We sent out requests to a number of other airlines regarding which seats are most popular on their flights but several declined to comment for this story. One airline assured us that no matter which seat you pick, you're going to have an enjoyable flight. That seems like a great promise, but doesn't negate the totally unappealing prospect of being sat in the middle seat.

Beyond not having the benefit of the aisle seat's unencumbered access to get to the bathroom or the window seat's control over the window shade, the middle seat has also been broiled in debate over access to the armrests. Do you get both? Neither? Most people believe you should still only get one armrest even if you're in the middle seat. This is added evidence of why the middle seat is the least popular seating option available.

While the window seat might lose out some of its popularity after the Alaska Airlines blowout, it's unlikely that people will ever become so risk adverse that the middle seat will start picking up any advantage, though you might find that aisle seats could be a bit more in demand in the coming weeks (never having to ask to go to the bathroom is an unparalleled perk in my opinion).

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.