Thou Shalt Not Covet the Window Seat


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I am a plane-window person. I love that little bit of transparent plastic that lets me watch what’s happening outside the plane.

The world is fascinating when viewed from 39,000 ft. There are few things better after a night flight than to watch the sun rise in the east. And the higher you are, the better the spectacle. The view of sunrise may be eclipsed only by the sight of the sun setting from altitude, when the earth below is black except for the lights from human habitation, and the vivid reds and oranges permeate the distant sky.

If I don’t have a window seat, I really know I am encased in an aluminium tube — and there’s nought to look at but the head in front. Yes, I could watch a movie, I guess. But, far too often, the oaf in front reclines the seat so far back I’d need to be a pygmy to have the screen anywhere near eye-level.
And so I really hate it when I am stuck mid-plane and I notice that the person occupying the window seat has absolutely no appreciation of the joy that tiny fenestra can bring.

If the occupant closes the shade, reads, watches a movie or (gasp!) sleeps during a day flight, I become forlorn just thinking of the wasted opportunity to peer out of that little oval aperture. I get a bad case of ‘plane window envy’ whenever someone sitting by the window fails to appreciate their good fortune to view those magnificent vistas outside.

I consider it to be a sheer waste of wonderful opportunity.

Who in their right mind could possibly occupy that precious seat, that sacred spot, and not realise, or even care about its raison d’ětre?

I understand that flying has become commonplace. It’s no longer the elegant and exciting privilege of well-heeled travellers, dressed in their best and traversing the skies with a sense of occasion. In fact, nowadays, there seems to be an undeclared competition for the most unkempt person on-board.

Granted, airlines treat the lowest fare-paying passengers poorly by putting them in cattle-class, but a window seat is still a window seat, no matter how narrow the seat pitch.

Even if I do have to sit there, scrunched up, my jaw resting on my knees due to lack of leg room, at least I have a view. Let me look at the clouds, see out to the horizon, ogle the ground below. I like to feel that I am still part of this earth, even if I am indulging in the most unnatural thing in the world: being a human who flies.

And here’s another thing: airlines like us to look out of plane windows. They even insist we open the shades on landing and take-off, simply because the more pairs of eyes peering through those aerial portholes, the more likely any problem will be noticed.

Yes, plane windows are an unbelievably important safety device, and if I could change aviation law, I would make it compulsory for window seat passengers to peep through the Perspex for most of the flight. In fact, I would go as far as to introduce an Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not covet the window seat unless thou pledges to keep faithful watch at all times.

So, next time I am stuck on an aisle or, God forbid, in the middle seat, I shall gaze anxiously at the occupants of those seats directly next to the curvature of the sides. And if they ignore that wonderful opportunity to observe the world through that roundish opening, I shall have evil thoughts about them, but would swap places in a heartbeat.

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