#913 Having a whole row by yourself on the plane

It was like a mirage.

There I was, a few years ago, sitting in the middle seat of a plane set for take off, and there sat an empty aisle seat to my right. I was belted in and cramped and it just sat there vacant, while overhead bins were slamming shut, flight attendents were bringing out blankets, and people started thumbing mindlessly through inflight magazine articles about exotic hotel lobbies.

The plane looked full, the plane looked settled, so I quickly made my stealth, ninja-like swap into the empty seat like a champion. I moved and sat there with a big smile, lots of elbow room, and my legs comfortably extended into the aisle. Truly, it was heaven.

Then suddenly a big guy in a tight business suit lumbered down the aisle just heaving, sweat dripping down his forehead, tongue wagging out his mouth like a dog, eying my row from a distance. I knew the jig was up, so I moved back to the middle seat as he settled in. Turns out he slept through his alarm and had to race to the airport. Nope, no time for a shower, just a full day’s worth of grease on his glistening neck. I voluntarily sacrificed the arm rest when his forehead began dripping on me, and then tried to enter a cocoon-like state of flying hibernation, covering myself in a blanket, crossing my arms and legs, and trying to go to sleep.

And that’s sort of how most plane rides go for me.

But every so often, every once in a while, I’ll end up on a pretty empty plane and score an entire row to myself. And that’s when the perks start piling up. You know how it is:

  • Pee Freely. Yup, get up and go whenever you like, because you won’t need to awkwardly limbo past anyone’s drink tray. Bonus: No awkward crotch-in-the-face moments.
  • Window and aisle. It’s great looking out the window, but unfortunately the person sitting closest to the window gets all window-shade rights. They may close the window completely or block the view when you want a peek. When you get your own row though, you get both.
  • Rest your arms. All arms rests become yours for the taking. Left arm, right arm, it doesn’t matter. There’s no need to worry about getting the bump-off.
  • Go sideways. This isn’t always easy, but you might be able to pull off the ‘row nap’, where you flip up all the armrests up and turn three seats into a bed. Forget those pricey lay-down seats in first class — this here’s the econo-bed and it works just as well.

Yes, having a whole row by yourself on the plane is a pretty sweet deal. You can almost pretend that you’re magnificently rich and you paid for the other seats just to buy yourself some breathing room. Because seriously, flying ain’t always a lot of fun, and so that extra elbow room can make the difference between three hours of misery and three hours of bliss. And that’s something worth celebrating.


The dream

Photos from: here and here

48 thoughts on “#913 Having a whole row by yourself on the plane

  1. Planes! Yup… flying from Australia to Europe is a 24 hour flight… and one I’ve had to do a couple of times… A year ago I came with 2 other people and one of them was a BIG guy 6″+ anyhow him and an equally enormous fat man seated in front of him were constantly bickering back and forth about space and dobbing each other into the airhostess the whole time.. they were getting so worked up it was hilarious!! Made me realise how lucky I am to be small ’cause I can manage to wriggle into a comfy position easily..

  2. On a trip to Germany me and my mom had THE WHOLE BACK ROW to ourselves. The three seats in the middle and the two seats on the sides were all to us. I loved it. Apparently the airport had some kind of security issue after we got checked in and half of the people on the flight missed it. The same thing happened on a red eye flight from Israel to Greece.

  3. I hate those jerks with the window seat who close the shade as soon as they board so I can’t look outside and watch the world drop away as we take off. They have no magic in their lives, and they’re bent on ruining it for the rest of us.

    1. I completely agree. I think it should only be closed when you’re in the clouds and there isn’t anything to look at but blinding white.

      1. psh, you can specify which seat you want. afraid of heights? first, maybe you shouldn’t take a plane, and second, go for the middle section seats if you’re on one of those huge planes that have 3-5-3 seats

    1. Hard to say what’s worse really, that moment you get one of those, or the other end. At least the crotch doesn’t blow noxious gasses made possible by Awesome entry #929

  4. On my first trans-atlantic flight, this happened to me! I couldn’t have been anymore happier.

    I got to lay down and sleep instead of sitting next to the grumpy old guy who was supposed to sit next to me.

    Downside, a whole entire group of kids missed their London flight. Oops.

  5. Yeah the first time I flew back from Italy [about an 8 1/2 hour flight] on a school trip I ended up getting an entire aisle to myself. It was amazing because everyone else was so cramped and I was stretching out and sleeping sideways.

  6. Once, my dad was on some business trip. There was a plane that went to town X (philly or something) and then to town Y (detroit or something), but there was really bad weather in town Y so they cancelled the flight from X to Y. However, he wasn’t taking the second part, just going to town X so he didn’t take them up on their offer to reschedule. Everyone else did. He had the WHOLE PLANE to himself. That is awesome in a pure form.

    1. My mom caught a red eye from Los Angeles to Boston on a 747 many, many years ago. There were only about 20 other people on board, so she took one of the 5-seat center aisle rows, put the armrests up and slept fully stretched out. Really awesome!

  7. Like a friend of mine who flew to the USA just after 9/11 – she said it was the best time to go because the flight was so empty, with no-one wanting to fly, everyone got a row.
    I got a row on one of the legs of my flight to Germany years ago. Sweet.

  8. I recently almost had a whole commuter plane to myself. I just flew into LA from Kauai and hopped on an early morning flight back home to San Diego. It was just myself, a couple, and another pilot. Pretty sweet.

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  10. How about having an entire PLANE to yourself? It happened to us going to Jamaica this spring. I have photographic proof! We felt like rock stars. The flight wasn’t canceled because they had to go down to MBJ to retrieve return passengers anyways. They lowered all the shades around us so we would sleep without interuption. We had a lovely conversation with the pilot and the attendants asked us for our movie choice. and the best part? We booked the flight 48 hours prior for $129.00 each.

  11. This happened to me and group of friends when we went on a trip to Italy. It was on the plane ride from Paris to Italy and most of us got a row to ourselves and we just stretched out and slept. It was amazing!

  12. I once got a whole row to myself, and it was on a flight from Paris to NYC, and I was nauseous before getting on the plane. I got to my seat and eventually realized they were all my seats. It made what promised to be a terrible flight a bearable 7 hour nap.

  13. This is even better when it’s the whole row in a movie theater, or preferably the whole theater, then you can talk and laugh and comment all you want and not bother anyone :-D

    1. We have a small town movie theater that has late shows on Friday and Saturday (9:15 or 9:30). They are almost empty, usually only a handful of people. My wife and I sit waaaaayyyy up front, and have the row to ourselves. I guess it is awesome, but it happens every week so you get used to it. We still try not to talk much – habit.

  14. Ah, having the whole isle is truly paradise. It rarely happens and when you think it’s about to happen some weird person sits down and in your head you are like NOOOO!!!!

  15. This happened to me when I was coming home to Wisconsin from California, where I had gone to be with my mother when she passed away. I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I just wanted to sleep. I was so thankful that i could put up those arm rests and stretch out – thank you mom for that one final gift of comfort.

  16. Mmm, being 6’2″, I look forward to one of these. For once I’d like to be able to walk as soon as I stand up after a flight.

  17. On a flight to Ireland my Mum, sister and I scored the aisle right in the middle of the plane – the section where there is a whole metre or so of leg room where the door is. Unfortunately you have to be over sixteen to sit in those seats (?!) so we were moved and had to watch the people whose places we had taken sidle smugly up to the front towards that leg-room mecca. Still, it was an extremely awesome flight for about five minutes!

  18. I once got the middle seat, with a huge guy to my left blocking the view from the window and also occasionally jostling my elbow as he studied his business papers.

    On my right sat a guy who had missed the invention of paper tissues and handkerchiefs; every so often he’d suck mightily, to drain the pint of gunk from his nostrils, back up into his head. Brain now swimming safely on a cushioning sea of greeny-yellow snot, he’d settle down for 10 minutes. And then it would start again….


    …Some bizarre and grotesque creature about to crawl out of the sea and grow legs…

    I think this was an alternative to a well known movie; in this case, The Snotsucker Proxy.

    I quietly and cruelly prayed that he’d miscalculate, end up with several pints of accumulated nasal slosh in his lungs, and quietly drown, leaving me to sleep…

  19. YES! This is really awesome. My arm wont have to go in contact with a hairy man’s arm. Or no stinky breath next to me who habitually sighs with an open mouth.

  20. My econobed story – returning on a red-eye from New York to London right before the big storm hit the East Coast, a whole A330, less than a third full… I grabbed the 4-seat row in the middle of the plane, all 4 blankets and pillows. Best overnight flight EVER. I even got photographic evidence of the pillowmarks :)

  21. i remember flying home from guam and on one of the long legs, can’t remember if it was guam to honolulu or honolulu to houston, the gigantic plane was virtually deserted….had almost the entire back half of the plane to myself….oh so comfortable, but scary (i’m just terrified of airplanes)

  22. I scored a row of four on a flight from the UK to Toronto a couple of months back. What made it even more awesome was it was Friday the 13th and I hadn’t slept all night due to the mother and father of all colds. It was without doubt the best flight I have ever had.

  23. I got this wonderful gift of a full row to myself for the entire 16 hour stretch flying from South Africa to Atlanta, it was glorious! I didn’t even care about the dirty looks from the other passengers, I could stretch out and relax after a very long, very fun trip. The only downside was no window to watch Africa flow by below.

  24. I deem this internet situate has got some especially superb in a row for all . “The ground that a good man treads is hallowed.” by Johann von Goethe.

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