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Other than being rewarded with the holy grail of long flight seating arrangements where you have an entire row to yourself and can sprawl out like a 9-year-old, there are pros and cons with every assigned seat. Considering how rare the holy grail of airline seating is, you’d be wise to consider the advantages and disadvantages of all three seats before choosing on your next flight.

First, let’s deal with the elephant in the room right here, right now.

The middle seat

The middle seat is terrible for long flights. There’s no doubt about that. Anyone who says otherwise is delusional, and you can tell them I said that.

However, even awful situations have their benefits. The difference is, they tend to be more long-term. Whereas undeniably good situations keep us happy and feeling good in the moment, not-so-good situations take a little more time and patience to pay off.

From my own experience, my middle seat flights are almost invariably the most interesting. To begin, you’re automatically a pity case from the moment you sit down squeezed between two other humans in a seat designed for a malnourished person.

Sympathy is a powerful drug for human beings. Assuming your fellow seat mates have a pulse, they feel bad for you and are willing to make concessions on your behalf to make your flight a little easier. You might’ve noticed that the middle seater usually commands not one but two armrests. The majority of aisle and window seaters are willing to concede an armrest to the poor schlub in the middle seat, so just take both.

As a middle seater, you are automatically the flight attendant’s most favorite person in that row. For starters, you aren’t going to be doing a lot getting up and down to go to the bathroom or to “stretch your legs” and otherwise get in the way of people trying to do their jobs. I calculate that middle seaters can in good conscience get up once every seven hours on a flight.

Your flight attendant is also going to rely on you to keep your row in order. If someone starts dozing off during meal or drink service, you’ve been deputized to give a subtle nudge in order to jolt them back to reality. You may also be the middleman or woman handing window seater’s empty trays and peanut wrappers to the flight attendant.

This might all seem like a lot of extra work without any payoff, but your flight attendant is taking notice. Middle seaters tend to get more attention which can mean more frequent drink service (free wine, anybody?), additional snacks, or maybe even one of those plastic pilot wings if that’s what you’re into.

But the real payoff for middle seaters is in relationship building. Have you ever seen aisle seater and window seater having a great conversation? Me neither. If a conversation is going to take place on an airline, it’s going to involve someone in a middle seat. Considering that people who buy airline tickets and travel long distances are probably doing pretty well for themselves, it’s not a bad idea to strike up a conversation. Whether you’re looking for a business contact or just a friend, your odds of having a good conversation on a flight are at least double when you’re a middle seater.

The window seat

When you’re choosing a seat on an airline, you should consider your goals for that flight. If your goal is to hibernate for as long as possible, the window seat is probably your best option. No one is going to bother you when they need to get up to use the lavatory and the majority of the chatter and other noise is going to be taking place closer to the aisle. You also control the window shade, which means you can make it as dark as you need whenever you feel like it. Prop your head against the wall and sleep to your next destination if you so desire.

Beyond that, though, everyone wants to be a window seater at two points during the flight: takeoff and landing. Some of the views you can get from the window seat of a plane are pretty spectacular. I also find looking at cloud patterns or the setting sun to be pretty sleep-inducing.

The aisle seat

Last but certainly not least is the aisle seat. The aisle seat is all about space, space, space. There’s more room for your legs (especially if you can safely squeeze one to extend parallel with the aisle), and you don’t have to ask anyone permission to get up and stretch.

Here again, it’s worth examining your goals for the flight. If you’re a frequent lavatory visitor or you like to get some stretches in periodically (I’m the weirdo doing air squats in the back if there’s room), you’re probably better off in an aisle seat.