Home Travel Miss Manners Weighs In On Who Controls The Airplane Window

Miss Manners Weighs In On Who Controls The Airplane Window

by SharonKurheg

For whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed reading the various advice columns. It started when I was a kid, when I’d always read Dear Abby (here’s what she said about married people traveling alone).

As more and more newspapers became available online, I discovered other advice columns. Ask Amy. Carolyn Hax. Dear Prudence. All of them have the same premise – anonymously asking for advice about whatever problem someone is having in their lives. Should they tell their neighbor that their husband is having an affair? They love their job, but their boss has bad breath. The childhood trauma that haunts them to this very day.

Several years back, I discovered Miss Manners. Penned by Judith Martin since 1978, Miss Manners also gives advice. But instead of solving personal problems, she offers assistance in perceived and potential breaches of etiquette. She invited a colleague to their wedding, then they got fired? Deflecting a request for feedback on a friend’s awful book. Handwritten addresses may not be long for this world. It’s an interesting read, especially during a time when etiquette tends to be placed further back in peoples’ minds.

Anyway, Miss Manners had a travel-related question the other day. So of course I was particularly interested. Here’s the question:

Dear Miss Manners: When I fly, I like to sit in the window seat. I enjoy the light, the additional space, the quiet away from the aisle and especially the view. From plane windows, I have seen the Grand Canyon, the Alps, a comet, towering thunderclouds with lightning flashes, and many other wonders.

Occasionally a person sitting next to me asks me to close the window so that they can watch a movie. I don’t want to. They can watch the movie anytime, but my show exists only at 35,000 feet.

I have tried to explain, but I often just cave in. Is there a polite way for me to handle this and still get my view?

As someone who loves looking out the window of planes, I’ve been in that very same position more than once.

I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to be stubborn, so my internal response has been, “Nope. Too bad, so sad. I have the window, it’s mine, you can change your angle to watch your movie without the glare bothering you. Go away, leave me alone, I’m an introvert.” LOLOL!

But of course, that would be my gut response; my “inside voice.” I’m a grown-up and I don’t let my gut response be my only response. So when in that position, I compromise and offer to close the window halfway…that way I can still squish down to look out, and they can hopefully see their movie without as much glare.

But that’s me. Here’s what Miss Manners suggested:

In the days when paper airplane tickets were ubiquitous, airlines were happy to print unpleasant truths on the back, albeit in grammatically tortured, microscopic print.

Miss Manners recalls that the substance was that your flight may not leave on time — or at all; that it may leave without you or your baggage; or that worse things may happen en route. What should have been included was that you will have to suspend, for a time, normal expectations about your control of the space around you — or to put it more succinctly, to share.

Tell your seatmate you are happy to close the shade during his movie, but would like to have it open as you cross the mountains, or whenever the movement of the aircraft suggests there is something worth seeing.

So she also suggested compromise, albeit a different kind from mine.

Feature Photo: pxhere

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1 comment

Gene January 15, 2023 - 10:33 pm

I vote for not compromising. I hate when the window is open, so I pick a window seat when flying alone.


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