Your Preferred Airplane Seat Could Be Bad for Your Health

airplane window seat

Here's some great news for all the budget flyers out there: Many experts used to put a lot of stock in the myth of the "economy class syndrome" -- meaning that traveling in economy class on an airplane increases your risk for developing a blood clot. But a new report finds absolutely no evidence to support that theory. What a relief to know that those of us already subjected to cramped leg room don't automatically face a serious health risk just because that's all we could afford.

Still, there are certain seats you'd be wise to watch out for as far as your health is concerned ...


According to new medical recommendations, sitting in a window seat is a risk factor in developing deep vein thrombosis -- blood clots in the legs -- which in turn can cause a pulmonary embolism. If you remember, that's exactly what Serena Williams was hospitalized for last year: The embolism was supposedly caused by a blood clot that formed after Williams had foot surgery and then flew cross-country (although which seat she was sitting in is unclear). She was really lucky: In some people this condition can be deadly.

The link between window seats and blood clots makes perfect sense: After all, blood clots can form when people are inactive for long periods of time. And, people who sit near the window tend to have limited mobility -- or, at least, typically, less mobility than their fellow passengers. I myself have been known to fall asleep as soon as the flight takes off and not wake up until it touches the ground again, particularly if I can lean against the window. (I'm sure I'm not alone in this.)

So, does this mean you have to steer clear of window seats forever and everyone will be clamoring for an aisle or a middle (ugh!) seat? Nah. Doctors just recommend that you move around and stretch your legs whenever possible, especially on flights longer than six hours.

Unless, of course, you are in one of these groups with an increased risk of DVT -- pregnant women, those who have recently had surgery, cancer patients, those with limited mobility, the severely obese, travelers over 70, and healthy women on the pill -- and frequently find yourself on long-distance flights ... Then, you might want to snag yourself a seat on the aisle.

Where do you like to sit on the airplane?

Image via PhillipC/Flickr

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