While aisle seats are desirable for getting up and moving around during a long plane ride, there are some flights where the views outrank the need for aisle access. We’ve compiled our list of 10 flights where you’ll definitely want to forego the aisle and book the window seat instead.
Seattle, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska
Flying into or out of Seattle is one of the most scenic flights on its own, especially with several volcanoes that appear so close you could almost reach out and touch them. Combine Washington’s rugged terrain with Juneau’s fjords and glaciers, and you have the formula for one of the most scenic flights in the world.
Belize City, Belize, to Ambergris Caye, Belize
If you’re flying domestically in Belize, you’re almost guaranteed a window seat since the largest plane holds around 14 passengers. Take a flight from Belize City (International or Municipal) to Ambergris Caye where you’ll fly alongside the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. Pro tip: Splurge for a charter flight with Tropic Air over the Blue Hole. People come from all over the world to dive it, but the view from above is unsurpassed.
Auckland, New Zealand, to Queenstown, New Zealand
If you could roll everything that makes New Zealand so iconic into one flight, it would be found on the Auckland to Queenstown route. You’ll be flying over lakes, rivers, glacier valleys, snow-capped peaks, rolling green hills and the Cook Strait.
Tahiti to Bora Bora
Any flight in French Polynesia will offer some incredible views, but there’s just something magical about the anticipation of landing in Bora Bora. It’s hard to imagine Bora Bora being even more beautiful, but the view as you pass over the reef with its varying shades of turquoise water is magical.
Australia to Antarctica
Yes, you read that flight. You can fly to Antarctica — well over it, anyway. If you are concerned about the rough passage and cold temperatures on a cruise, consider a day flight from Australia. Qantas offers seasonal Antarctica sightseeing flights from multiple destinations, with up to four hours of viewing time while the rest of the flight you’ll be pampered in style.
Cebu, Philippines, to Hong Kong
If you fly between Cebu in the Philippines and Hong Kong, your flight will start off with sights like Mount Pinatubo, lakes and plenty of reef-rimmed islands and white sand beaches. Once you descend into Hong Kong, you’ll have lush islands surrounded by massive skyscrapers and an endless sea of mesmerizing neon lights. Plus, if you book on Cathay Pacific, the in-flight entertainment has channel broadcasting cameras that look down, so you may have a view even if you’re in the aisle or center seat.
Many flights between North America and Europe pass over Greenland. Depending on the time of day you fly, you may see the ice below as the sun rises, or there’s a chance you could really luck out and see the northern lights in the night sky. While there’s no guarantee of seeing them, this Icelandair pilot has some tips on maximizing your chances of an aurora borealis sighting on a commercial flight.
Dallas, Texas, to San Francisco, California
When you depart Dallas, you're likely wondering why this is scenic as you pass over the flat reddish land below. However, as the flight continues, you’ll be over the famous four corners where New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Colorado meet, followed by the Colorado Rockies. As you make your way into California, you’ll see Yosemite’s Half Dome, waterfalls, the Golden Gate bridge and sprawling San Francisco as you land.
Charlotte, North Carolina, to Miami, Florida
For some iconic East Coast views, book a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Miami, Florida. Sit on the right side of the plane to catch the Georgia coastline and Cape Canaveral as you hit Florida. Before landing, you might even see a few of the mega cruise ships that call Fort Lauderdale home.
There are a number of flight options that offer the chance to view the Grand Canyon from above, including many coast-to-coast flights that land in Los Angeles. You can also book shorter routes like Phoenix to Salt Lake City for a guaranteed bird’s-eye view.