x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Just say 'excuse me'

Is an airplane's window seat really riskier? We're not convinced.

It's one of the fundamental recurring questions of modern life, and now there's a bit more evidence to help you decide: aisle or window?

The American College of Chest Physicians says the risk of deep vein thrombosis - a blood clot, usually in the leg - is higher for airline passengers in window seats. They don't get up as often, and moving around is the best defence against these clots.

In fairness, the US medical group reasserts that the risk of such clots is "very small" even on a flight of eight or 10 hours. But for those with other risk factors - recent surgery, family history of clots, smoking, obesity - the immobility of a window seat can make the danger slightly greater.

Maybe. True, window-seaters are usually reluctant to disturb fellow passengers by asking to get out. And the lucky travellers who can easily fall asleep on planes tend, we suppose, to choose window seats.

On the other hand, the College of Chest Physicians is mute on the risk of being burnt when a flight attendant spills coffee, a danger which is obviously greatest on the aisle.

There's a lot to worry about when you fly. Deep-vein thrombosis. Solar radiation. Infectious disease. Crying babies. Mediocre food. No leg room. Smelly seat-mates. Still, these concerns fade into insignificance when you consider the one real menace, the one true misery, associated with air travel. Anything is better than the middle seat.