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Window Seat: A Reality Check

When one isn’t accustomed to flying very much, one is under an impression that the window seat is a corner of awe, one that holds a position of extreme importance and luxury. When booking seats, everyone would apparently be hoggling to grab the last remaining window seats lest they run out like movie tickets that would in turn mean a flying episode of utter depravity. One reason for this might be perhaps when you’re a child, your parents always granted you the window seat; and travelling with parents always ensured you get the best of everything. Only when there comes a time you must start flying alone you realize how far from the truth the myths surrounding the window seat is.

It is a noticeable thing in most people that when they start out flying for the first few times, they all opt for the window seats but with time, their preference shifts to the aisle seat, according to a recent Emirates Airlines survey. The window seat, once held in high repute, shrinks to become something held in utmost disregard. If one is flying for the first time, and asks for counsel from a frequent flyer, the latter would, 3 out of 5 instances (presumably) advise against taking a window seat, unless they (God forbid) have something against you. The window seat is only enjoyable under three hard and fast rules: 1) If you’re travelling with people you know and they’re the ones occupying the seats next to you, 2) If it is a short flight, for example, a domestic flight, even under uncomfortable circumstances makes it tolerable and 3) If there is daylight at the time of your flying, which would enable you to see the majestic views outside. Come to think of it, of you’re travelling for a long leg, (for example, most of the flights from the Middle East countries to USA cross the 10 hour mark) and flying alone, with random strangers occupying the seats next to you, it doesn’t sound too appealing any more, does it? Even if there is daylight, it fails to serve as much of a consolation for your woes at that point.

The window seat is like a corner of great unhappiness, which cuts you off from the rest of the aeroplane. Most long leg journeys advise you to drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated, which in turn means you need to frequent the washroom and your legs become sore/cramped so you need to keep walking around from time to time. So every time you need to move, you will have to poke your neighbours and ask them to move and there’s only so many times you could do so comfortably. Imagine if you are sitting next to someone rather grumpy, or someone aged, asking them to move several times becomes an inconvenience.

Worse still, when you’re underage and ask for alcohol on flight, and you have had the misfortune to have an annoying, middle-aged, orthodox, judgmental (supposed) house-wife or a gentleman of similar mindset as your neighbour. We have to deal with them enough already without the closed confines of a dreaded window-seat. Or when you have to sit next to someone with an infant who doesn’t stop crying, or quarreling couples, or someone who has a case of bad body odour, or someone who would keep trying to engage you in conversation in spite of you having made it blatantly clear that you’re not interested . Imagine how infuriating it is to deal with these kinds of people on a day-to-day basis; now multiply that feeling of annoyance ten fold, and add a tiny, cramped space you’re literally stuck in for hours on end with no escape – you should be able to figure it out.

But the worst ever situation is when the person next to you is adrift in deep slumber, and you it is an emergency situation for you to empty your bladder. At first you consider it rude to arouse someone from their sleep, so you decide to hold it in and wait for them to wake. But minutes roll into hours and there comes a time when you simply cannot endure the torment any longer and make your mind to break the ice by shaking your neighbour awake from sleep, and your worst nightmare strikes. He/she doesn’t wake up in spite of your best efforts (trust me, this happens a lot!) and you’re stuck in a hopeless labyrinth of distorted emotions. You think of asking for the air hostess, but for what? To wake your neighbour just so you could visit the washroom – how embarrassing would that be, both from the point of view of the air hostess as well as your co passenger? So you decide to hold in your tears and make up your mind never to repeat the same mistake of getting a window seat again when you’re flying alone. When you’re almost about to give up, God looks down at you from the vaults of heaven and your neighbour shows signs of awakening, at long, long last. You immediately sit up straight, and start looking for loopholes. At the very instant the person opens his/her eyes, you grab the opportunity lest they close back again for another eternity. It is mostly at the instance of the emergency bladder emptying scenario that most people shift their preferences from the window to the aisle.

But then again, the window is the perfect seat to pick when you need to sleep. It not only provides you with a sturdy wall to rest on, but you also wouldn’t be disturbed by neighbours climbing in and out of their respective seats all around you. Not to forget the views – they’re unparalleled. Nothing compares to seeing the world from a bird’s eye view and the view of floating amidst the clouds. Imagine flying over the Himalayas, or the Alps, or the icy expanses of Iceland or Norway; these views are exclusive only the window seat can offer. The window seat also ensures you are not bumped by roving drink/food carts or unwary passengers, but say goodbye to leg space the aisle seat generously offers, as well as the easy access to items in the overboard compartment. Especially when you’re flying economy on cheap flights, even an inch of extra space is welcome. The window seat is the last option for someone who is prone to claustrophobia, also when someone has to catch a connecting flight when there is dearth of time. Aisle seat ensures you wouldn’t have to climb over people and have awkward brushes with unmentionable body-parts. More than anything else, it leaves you entirely at the mercy of yourself, and that’s the best feeling of all when you’re flying all by yourself.

It would be safe to conclude that both types of seating have their good and bad qualities, but here’s the basic thing one needs to follow to have a comfortable flying experience: always go for the aisle when travelling alone and the window only when you’re with a companion. In the world of frequent fliers, the aisle vs window debate is a fierce one. Aisle loyalists sing the praises of their extra legroom, and window fans point to the views. The only common ground between the two is their hatred for the dreaded middle seat – now that is Satan’s very own domain, the absolute worst, the innermost ring of Hell!



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