Why Airline Windows and Seats Don’t Match Up

As air passengers, we love to gaze out of the window to view that great blue yonder in the middle of a flight.

But sometimes we end up frustrated that our assigned seats don’t have window next to it. It seems that in every few rows on a commercial jet, the windows don’t quite line up with the seats, rendering the window pretty much useless.

So what is behind this apparent non-alignment inside an intricately designed airline cabin?

It turns out that we found a rational explanation behind this: although aircraft manufacturers like Boeing or Airbus decide where windows go, it’s the airline companies like United, Southwest, Qantas or British Airways decide where the seats go. Manufacturers include their seating recommendations to airlines, but the arrangement is totally up to the airline.

Sadly, airlines usually disregard those recommendations in favor of their own seat configurations, often squeezing seats into economy class to please both the management (raise more revenue) and the passengers (lower fares).

It is up to airlines to decide what seating configuration is used, such as a 3-4-3 arrangement, a 2-3-2, or the universally dreaded 3-5-3.

So the main reason airline cabin windows don’t always match up with the seats is usually because the airline has crammed an extra couple of rows onto the plane, probably to make more money, and thrown the perfect alignment of seats and windows out of sync.

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