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Why Some Airplane Window Seats Don't Have Windows (and How to Avoid Those Seats)

Airports + Flying
by Katie Scott Aiton Mar 15, 2024

Everyone has a preference. Me, I’m a window seat gal. I’m there for the views and because looking out somehow keeps my claustrophobia at bay. Now, if I boarded a flight and came to my row only to find that my window seat was windowless, we’re going to have a problem. I’m not catastrophizing. Many airplanes sell window seats that treat you to a hard wall instead of a nice view of the clouds.

This happened to passenger Liz this week when she posted a picture of her windowless American Airlines window seat on a Reddit post with the comment: “I’ve never been on a flight where the window seat has no window!”

The picture shows her sitting in the seat with a blank wall. “If my job wasn’t paying for this,” she continues, “I’d be super salty about paying for a non-existent view.”

Window seat with no window???
byu/RockingInTheCLE inmildlyinfuriating

I’d be as salty as the sea. After posting, many took to the comments section to make light of the situation.

“It’s an Imagination Window, where anything you can dream could be true! (Imagination Window is an extra $300+ service charge,)” says the first.

Some commenters noted that they would prefer a wall instead of a window so there’s more of a surface to lean on and get some quality inflight sleep.

“More wall for use as a pillow that stays cold and goes BRRRRRRTR,” suggests a commenter.

And a well-deserved slow clap has to go to the timely Boeing joker who wrote, “If it’s a Boeing, you could find mid flight that you suddenly have a window.”

Liz is not alone. Passenger Kalie Marsch shared her experience on X with the comment, “I’ve made a terrible, terrible, terrible mistake.”

X user Susan Conroy replied, “The worst. I’m an obsessive window-seater, and this would make me have a slight panic attack.” I couldn’t agree more.

Why some airplane window seats don’t have windows

This is more common than you might think. There are a couple of reasons why they exist: the placement of essential aircraft components and the position of the emergency exit.

The main culprit is often the airplane’s design and use of space for pretty vital things like wiring and air conditioning ducts. Putting a window in these sections would be impractical or structurally impossible. Window placement also has to take emergency exits into account, Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy, told the Daily Mail.

Indeed, by looking over many airline seat maps, you can see sometimes, the placement of the emergency exit door means the window next to it gets blocked off. You can find examples of a windowless window seat for almost any carrier, so suffice to say, if you don’t do your homework, you’re never safe.

How to avoid windowless airplane window seats

While a windowless window seat isn’t ideal, there are resources to help you avoid them. Sites like SeatGuru allow you to look up the specific seat layout for your flight, and will often highlight which seats lack windows. SeatGuru has a collection of seat maps for over 175 airlines, covering nearly 1300 aircraft. All you need to do is pop in the details of your airline and flight number to find the specific seat map for your flight. The site simplifies seat selection with a color-coded system. Green seats are generally considered favorable, yellow are standard, and red indicates seats with drawbacks. You can also read through flier reviews and get insights into opinions on legroom, recline functionality, proximity to amenities (toilets, power outlets), and maybe the dreaded windowless window seat.

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