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Have you ever boarded an airplane only to find out there’s no window in your row? It’s happened to me and to many friends and frequent travelers. This is a mistake that could really make or break your trip depending on the type of person you are. Some people may not care although I would think they’re in the minority. I think most people really enjoy looking out the window when they’re flying while others need a window so they don’t feel claustrophobic.

Take a look at what happened to one traveler:

Personally, I really like looking out of the window, especially on takeoff and landing. In some countries, air travel rules mandate that the window shades have to be open on takeoff and departure. In the U.S., this rule is only for exit row windows although some airlines, like Hawaiian, require the window shades to be up in all rows.

I was reminded of this mistake a couple of times in the last month. First, my buddy Nick Wayland who runs TravMedia (a great organization that connects journalists and public relations folks in the travel industry), posted a photo of himself on a flight to London with the caption: “For all the flying, you’d think Id be able to get one job right. Window seat!” See photo above.

Nick travels the world and is constantly putting on major events, multiple times a year, in the U.S., Australia, Europe, Asia and South America. I get tired just thinking about his travel schedule.

Another friend called me the other day to say that Air France kept un-assigning and moving the business class seat she’d chosen for her trip next month. She bought the ticket through Delta and on the last leg, she’s flying Paris to Los Angeles, which is operated by their partner Air France.

She’s a nervous flyer and prefers to sit in the very front of the plane in an aisle seat, which is why she splurged for a premium ticket. By pulling up her flight on ExpertFlyer, I was able to investigate and that’s when I noticed there was a red checkmark next to her seat. (See screenshot above.)

I hovered over it and it read, “Seat 15L is a standard Business Class seat that is missing a window.” (See screenshot above.) I asked if she knew her new seat towards the back of the cabin had no window. She had some choice words and said, “Of course not! I need a window.”

So, why do some rows on airlines not have a window seat? There are multiple reasons, including the way an airline chooses to configure their cabin. Those that try to fit as many seats in as possible usually leave one row without a window. Another reason could be to accommodate essential components such as air-conditioning ducts.

A seat I choose often is the emergency row but on some aircraft, the window is so small you can’t even see out of it. Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK, told the Daily Mail the reason for this: ‘Frequently emergency exit window seats don’t include a window view as design dictates window placement on the emergency exit door, which often results in an obscured view.’ See embedded tweet below:

How can a traveler be sure they will get a row with a window? There are a few things you can do and the most important is to do your research. First, before assigning yourself a seat, look at the seating chart on the airline’s website as well as either SeatGuru or aeroLOPA.

Once I have my seat, I then set a seat alert on (it’s subscription-based and is complicated to use so here’s our guide) for my specific seat. This way, I will get notified via email the moment my seat opens up, either because of a glitch, they changed the aircraft, or an airline rep moved me to accommodate an elite frequent flier or a family.

The reason I do this is because for me, having the right seat is imperative when I fly. I used to be afraid to fly myself and I’m a relatively big guy (6 feet, 203 pounds) and don’t want to get stuck in a row without extra legroom or a middle seat. The sooner I know I’ve been moved, the better I can fix the situation. Because rolling onto a plane and seeing your seat doesn’t have a window or extra legroom is no fun and it’s generally too late to do anything about it as many planes are going out 100% full these days.


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1 Comment On "How to make sure you don't end up in the worst seat on the plane"
  1. Marlin|

    I fly southwest all the time, pretty easy to get a window.

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