There are a lot of unanswered questions around plane travel. Just how old are those plastic-wrapped bread rolls? How clean is the coffee? Do flight attendants mind if you switch seats mid-flight? How do baggage handlers fit so many suitcases in such a small space? Is the mile high club a myth or a secret society?
Sorry to burst your suitcase, but today we aren’t going to answer any of those questions. We are going to answer, however, why windows never seem to line up perfectly with your seat.
DMARGE spoke to Anthony Harcup, senior director at design house Teague, to get to the bottom of the matter.
“It’s because seat-spacing and positioning is dictated by airlines’ commercial requirements, and the window spacing is driven by the aircraft OEM’s engineering requirements,” Harcup said.
He explained that window spacing is worked into the structural sections of the aircraft: “Aircraft are built in structural sections that are covered over by the large interior lining panels – each housing 2 window reveals (we call these ‘frame-bays’),” Harcup said.
“They have over-lapping articulating seams that allow the aircraft to flex in flight without revealing the engineering structures. Per aircraft model (ie: A320/ B737/ A350/ B787 etc…) these do not change – and will all leave the factory with the same spacing regardless of the airline/operator.”
As for seat spacing, “seats are configured and ‘pitched’ to meet the commercial requirements of the airline,” he said.
“Airlines all have different business models (LCC, ULCC, Full Service Carriers) that demand different seat types, different pitch ranges, and different configurations. The LOPA (Layout Of Passenger Accommodation) definition process is an entirely separate process that does not consider window placement.”
As Insider puts it: “Their [the airlines’] goals are fitting as many people into seats as possible—not setting a scenic stage for your in-flight Instagrams.”
There you have it. That’s why plane windows usually don’t perfectly align with each seat.