Seoul to Shanghai China Eastern Airlines seats
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Psychology: Where You Sit on an Airplane Determines Your Personality?

I n one of the more inane articles I have read in a while, where you sit on an airplane purportedly says a lot about you — although there are admittedly some grains of truth embedded in it, in my opinion.

Shown below are portions of the article in question, with my thoughts added to them:

If you’re an aisle person:

You value freedom. “Choosing an aisle seat is an expression of freedom. You know you have the ability to get up and walk around without having to ask anyone or climb over your seat mate.” I basically agree with this. On long international flights, it is nice to be able to get up anytime you like to use the lavatory, walk around to get your blood circulating, get something out of the overhead compartment, or to head on over to where the snacks and drinks are located in case of hunger or thirst.

You’re an introvert. I call baloney on this one. The “easy escape route” is that it is indeed quicker to leave the aircraft — even if by a minute or two — in those situations where you have an appointment to attend and every minute counts. I truly do not believe people who prefer aisle seats are introverts. In fact, I would rather think that introverts would prefer a window seat. Read on…

You’re all business. “No gazing out the window and daydreaming for you. Plus it’s usually much more comfortable to sleep at the window, so you’ll likely be up working or reading a book.” I do notice that business people tend to choose an aisle seat over any other type of seat; but I do not necessarily agree with the reasoning here. I believe it is because they — well — value freedom and nothing more.

You like to be in the power position. “You’re the first one to talk to the flight attendant when she asks what you want to drink.” Not necessarily — I have been on many flights where the flight attendant addresses the passenger in the window seat first. This is so that items are not passed by the passengers in the aisle seat and middle seat while they are attempting to eat or drink. “You control your seat mates in a sense – middle and window people need to ask you to go the bathroom – and you can set the tone for the interaction by either being nice or grumpy about it. You’re the de facto dictator of the row.” This is the most ludicrous piece of hogwash I have read in a long time.

You tend toward claustrophobic. This may be possible; but then, I do not experience claustrophobia. In fact, I have known people who have a fear of flying or a fear of heights who would rather sit in an aisle seat so that they would not have to look out the window.

If you’re a window person:

You value privacy. That actually is true — at least for me. I like the wall on one side. It seems quieter. No one has to ask me to move so that he or she can use the lavatory or any of the other aforementioned reasons to get up.

You’re a nester. This is actually true to a point for me as well, as it seems cozier in a window seat — although I would not call myself a “nester.” I can rest a pillow against the wall for marginally more comfortable sleep; although it is usually difficult for me to sleep on an airplane unless I am absolutely tired. I would not go so far as to say that I am “creating a little bit of home”, however — but I can use the armrest area for temporary storage; and the area between the armrest and the wall is usually a perfect place to store a blanket, a pillow — or both.

You’re a dreamer. Dream on. That is not why I like to sit in a window seat. I look out the window and look at cities as maps which I can figure out — as well as marvel at the wonders of our incredible planet passing below. In fact, I save my dreaming for an aisle seat, where I have little at which to look — especially when there is no in-flight entertainment or anything else to keep my mind occupied at that moment.

You’re open to new experiences. I think this is really pushing it to the point of ridiculous. “Hey — this seat is an extra millimeter away from the wall! I have more room! What a new experience!” In reality, I am not always open to new experiences — but then again, that depends on the experience.

If you’re cool with the middle seat:

You’re an extrovert. Sure. Yeah. Right. Because all of the aisle and window seats are already occupied and you are stuck with no choice but a middle seat, you are an extrovert. Even when I travel with people I know personally, I do not like to sit in a middle seat. Do you? Am I wrong?!?

You’re highly evolved. “Being okay with the middle seat, especially on a long flight, is an exercise in acceptance and willingness to allow what is be what is. If you’re able to give up your privacy and your autonomy, and realize it’s just a moment in time that will pass, you’re probably the most enlightened passenger on the plane.” Um…oka-a-a-a-a-ay. Sure. Do you buy this? I sure do not…

You’re considerate. “Often, when someone chooses the aisle seat, it’s because they’re with a friend or partner, and they’re doing it as a gift to the traveling companion.” A present? For me?!? Oh, you shouldn’t have — but I’ll take it!!!

You’re low man on the totem poll. “If you’re traveling with family or friends and you get stuck in the middle seat (as opposed to offering to sit there), it’s probably because you’re the one with the least amount of power in the group.” If this is truly the case, I would advise seeking the advice of a professional therapist. Either that, or this is absurd.

You’re disorganized. “People who repeatedly end up with the middle seat may very well be there because they failed to sufficiently plan ahead.” This is probably the most realistic statement in this section; but if this is true, that person has no one to blame but himself or herself — and perhaps professional therapy or coaching might be advised here as well.

If you only do business class:

You’re a control freak. “You don’t want to have to chose between values – between freedom and comfort, for example. Paying the extra money allows you to protect both. What you’re really buying is opportunity to exercise these values. Plus, there’s plenty of place to store your overhead luggage – no being forced to cram your stuff into leftover space.” Excuse me — this makes you a control freak?!? What an asinine term to apply to someone who values both freedom and comfort as well as plenty of space to store belongings. Next time I walk down what is known to frequent fliers as the “aisle of shame” towards the economy class cabin, I will be sure to glare at all of the passengers in the premium class cabin with my fiendish “control freak” glare and embarrass them into their own shame.

You value your time. “It says a lot when you’re willing to spend several times the price of a regular seat, and one of the perks of the business class ticket is that it comes with priority boarding. Plus, being at the front of the plane allows you to get off more quickly, too.” Really? I did not know that. Actually, there is some truth to that — especially for those people who value their time more than money, as you can always earn more money. Once you lose time, it is lost forever — as in reading the original article. I will never be able to get those five minutes back…

You’re a little pretentious. “Sometimes people like to fly business class because of how it appears to others.” That might be true for some people; but I do not believe I am pretentious at all when I am seated in the premium class cabin. The pretentious people, in my opinion, are the ones who boss around the flight attendant as though he or she was his or her personal servant — with no need to be polite. They also act like they are the only ones who matter in the world with little or no regard for their fellow passengers. You can find these people in the economy class cabin as well as the premium class cabin. I do believe that another name for these people are — what is that term again — DYKWIA?!?

You’re rich. Or you have a lot of frequent flier loyalty program miles. Or maybe you just like to indulge yourself once in a while. What is wrong with that? I think the statement “you’re rich” is — well — a little pretentious and a sign that it might have been written by an introverted control freak.


I showed the original article to someone I know, who replied: “It is your personality which decides where you sit — not where you sit which decides your personality.”

Although I typically prefer to sit in a window seat because I enjoy the view, slightly more privacy and a place to rest where I need it, I also prefer the aisle seat if I need to exit the airplane faster, want more freedom to move about the cabin, or find that the window seat has no window or has a significantly obstructed view. It is that simple. It is not because I am an introvert, an extrovert, pretentious or disorganized.

I never prefer the middle seat because I am such a control freak…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

  1. i think there analysis of overextended, There are physical drivers which may be dominant, particulalry in economy such as need a wall to sleep against, or need access to bathroom or work files for isle, if they lookd st patterns of those in biz that might be more valid.

    1. I agree, Levy Flight. As I said, there are some bits of truth to that original article — but they should have stopped there.

      The trouble is that if they did stop there, they most likely would not attract as much readership as they probably have already attracted…

  2. I love feeling pretentious when I’m flying business. I love it when all of economy has to walk by my seat while I’m slowly sipping a drink and stretching out. just kidding.

    1. The first four words of your comment gave it away for me that you were kidding, augias, you pretentious reader you!

      Thank you for the laugh!


      “The Control Freak”…?!?

  3. 1. I prefer an aisle seat in coach because I like to be able to get up without disturbing two other people.

    2. If I have easy access to the aisle, then window seat because I like to look out.

    3. Business class is great because at 6’2″ it’s nice to be able to straighten my legs out and not develop leg cramps or, worse still, deep vein thrombosis.

    So, analyze that!

  4. I’m an introvert and I prefer the aisle seat. Reason #1: I sometimes don’t feel like asking someone if they can move so I can get up and use the bathroom or walk around. The aisle seat allows me to avoid initiating interaction with another passenger.

  5. I don’t think you understand claustrophobia. It is a fear of being in tight or closed spaces. It has nothing to do with flying or heights. I am claustrophobic and fret for days in advance of a flight if I know I am booked for a window seat. Thinking about it can be worse than actually being there. I actively avoid flying on Southwest because I am anxious for hours before the flight thinking I might not get an aisle seat. I am also introverted and agree that an introvert would rather have an aisle to avoid having to ask to get out.

  6. I’m an introvert, an anxious flyer, and claustrophobic. I prefer the window seat. I feel it helps with my anxiety and claustrophobia because when I’m in the window seat, I can look out and see the great world outside so I don’t feel as closed in. I’m also not looking down the aisle/middle of the plane where I could see just how closed in it is. Plus, the spectacular views make for a nice distraction.

    1. The only question I have is what happens when you fly as a passenger at nighttime, Britney?

      There have been times where the world below is covered with a blanket of clouds when I have traveled; and there is no moon outside at the time.

      Interestingly, some people with claustrophobia prefer the aisle seat because they know that they can get out anytime they want without bothering anyone.

      I completely agree with you on the views — most of which cannot be replicated on the ground.

      Although I never was an anxious flier, I considered myself more of an introvert for most of my life — but personality instruments and brain dominance tests purport that I am not as much of an introvert as I thought…

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