Next time someone tries to fight you for the window seat on a long flight, let them have it – even if that means you’re stuck in the middle!
Sure, the middle seat sucks, but at least you only have one person to climb over to get out of that row! We’ve all been there: You’re sitting in the window seat and haven’t gotten up in a few hours. Realizing you have to use the bathroom, you look over, only to see the people in your row are asleep. What do you do? Try and climb over them and hope they don’t wake up with your booty in their face? Or stay put and hold it in until you land?
Most people stay put, but that’s not the smartest choice. In fact, not climbing over people and waking them up can be detrimental to your health!
When you sit still for a long period of time, blood clots can form in the veins of your legs because without moving the muscles of your legs, blood can have trouble circulating back to the heart. It’s a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and can be extremely dangerous, and in rare cases, fatal. A clot that gets dislodged once you start moving again can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs and block the supply of vital oxygen to your blood. In rare cases, the clot can make it to the brain and actually cut off all circulation.
And you’re at a higher risk if you’re in the window seat.
So it’s not about whether you sit in first class, business class, or economy, after all! “Traveling in economy class does not increase your risk for developing a blood clot, even during long-distance travel; however, remaining immobile for long periods of time will,” said guideline co-author Mark Crowther, MD, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. “Long-distance travelers sitting in a window seat tend to have limited mobility, which increases their risk for DVT. This risk increases as other factors are present.”
The following are factors that may increase your risk of developing a DVT/PE and related complications:
- Previous DVT/PE or known thrombophilic disorder
- Recent surgery or trauma
- Advanced age
- Estrogen use, including oral contraceptives
- Sitting in a window seat
DVT is a rare condition, and most people have nothing to worry about. Regardless, always get up and walk around the cabin when you can, and next time someone’s fighting you for the window seat, by all means let them have it.