Alert: There Is a Secret Button That Raises Aisle Armrests on Planes

Updated: Jul. 19, 2021

It's been sitting under your elbow this whole time.


There are dozens of secrets an airline won’t tell you — like why they really make you turn off electronics during takeoff and landing, or why first class is the deadliest place to sit in a crash. But more often than not, your biggest concern on a flight isn’t safety, it’s comfort. And that’s all down to where you park your butt.

We’ve already pointed out that aisle seats are the healthiest place to sit on a plane, giving you more room to extend your long-suffering legs, plus the near-instant ability to stand up for bathroom visits, overhead bin access, or the simple joy of realizing you’re standing in the sky like an Olympian god. There is, sadly, one setback to aisle seating: that damnable armrest, forever locked in the lowered position, forcing you to slither your girth awkwardly around it every time you or anyone in your row feels like stretching their legs.

We’re happy to report there is a simple solution: As writer Chad Upton points out on his Broken Secrets blog, there is a hidden lever on the underside of most aisle armrests that allows you to raise the arm or oppression at last.

“There are a few planes that do not have movable aisle armrests,” Upton writes, “However, most of them have a small lever or button on the underside of the armrest, near the hinge. Pushing or sliding this lever will release the hinge lock, allowing you to raise the armrest.”

Travelers on Reddit confirm this trick works, but point out that some flight attendants may ask you to lower the arm during beverage service (by the way, here is the number-one way to get on a flight attendant’s bad side).

Still, armed with your new knowledge, you should feel free to raise and lower the aisle armrest every time you or one of your row-mates needs to get up—especially when the flight is over and the mandatory everyone-stand-awkwardly-in-the-aisle signal is given at your arriving gate. This priceless trick might just blow your seat-mates’ minds; luckily, there should be a little paper baggy stocked in your seat pocket to help you pick up the pieces.

Next up: Here are devastating airport mistakes you don’t know you’re making.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest