When I was younger, I enjoyed the view from a window seat. As I got older, however, I started getting a bit claustrophobic. Now I need an aisle seat, particluarly on longer flights. The idea of being "trapped" in a window or middle seat frightens me. I need the freedom to get up at will, without worrying about bothering anyone. If I am moved to a window seat on a long flight, I would seriously consider just skipping the flight.

When I flew recently, I selected aisle seats and got them. However, I almost missed a connection, and it occurred to me that if I missed it I could have been reassigned to a window seat on another flight.

Is there a way to guarantee an aisle seat? Any aisle seat will do. If you tell the airline company that you are claustrophobic, will they accomodate you? Does it depend on the airline? Thanks.

  • 14
    “Guaranteed”, even in irrops: no.
    – jcaron
    Sep 16 at 20:36
  • 12
    I have traded my aisle for a window when the person told me they were claustrophobic. I would have traded no matter what: I prefer window and was upset I'd been put on the aisle. I think you have a good chance of getting someone to trade in irrops -- many people will not be in the seats they prefer. Sep 16 at 22:30
  • 1
    I’ve flown very small planes with only aisle seats. Or ones with 3 total across, so 2/3 are aisles…
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 16 at 23:14
  • 2
    Trading only works if you have a window seat to trade. If you get on a last minute flight it seems you are pretty likely to get stuck in a middle seat.
    – stannius
    Sep 17 at 21:41
  • Considering the existence of overbooking, it's not even guaranteed you'll be on the plane, no matter how soon you've purchased your ticket.
    – vsz
    Sep 18 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


If you select an aisle seat (paying for the privilege if necessary) then it is extremely likely you will get it. The only time you might not is if there is a last minute change of plane type.

If you get bumped to a different flight then they can only offer you seats that are available. Telling them you have claustrophobia may increase the chances of your getting an aisle seat if one is available. It's also possible that you may find someone on the other flight willing to change seats with you. If you decline a replacement flight solely because you can't get the seat you want you may find the airline considers it has done its duty by offering the flight and decline to help more, although explaining the situation might prevent that.

A letter from a medical professional might help. You might consider consulting a medical professional if this scenario is giving you concern.


Is there a way to guarantee an aisle seat?

Not for last minute changes like missed connections or aircraft swaps. When all aisle seats are taken, they are taken. The airline is not going to kick someone else out of their seat to accommodate you

You can try to swap seats after boarding. These days airline often charge extra for aisle seats so be prepared to offer some non-trivial amount of cash as an incentive.

  • 1
    I assume that companies charging extra for aisle seats only apply when compared to seats without aisle nor window - so only very big planes. In a narrow body plane window seats are likely to be more sought after, specially if some passengers are tourists.
    – Pere
    Sep 17 at 10:28
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    @Pere even on most narrow-bodies (at least all 320s and 737s) a third of the seats are middle seats, neither aisle nor window. I’m not sure what the demand for window v aisle is, I think many people have different reasons for wanting either. In narrow-bodies there is equal supply of each, while on wide-bodies there are twice as many aisle seats as window seats.
    – jcaron
    Sep 17 at 13:09
  • 2
    @Pere: They don't charge extra for aisle seats. They charge extra for reserved seats, of which a significant portion (not necessarily a majority) will be aisle seats (because some people prefer aisle seats and will select them when available). So at least some people sitting in aisle seats have paid to be there and will be very unhappy if you try to persuade them to move to a non-aisle seat.
    – Kevin
    Sep 17 at 21:40

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