Here’s Why Airplane Windows Don’t Line Up With Passenger Seats

Plane travel isn’t always the most comfortable experience, but at least when you’re seated next to a window, you can gaze out into the clouds and take in views that you don’t normally get on the ground.

As excited as you may be to get a glimpse of what your hometown looks like from the sky, it can be frustrating when you realize that your window seat doesn’t exactly match up perfectly with a window. It seems like a silly design — why not align each window with a seat?

Well, it turns out, there’s actually a reason for this peculiar placement.

airplane window photo
Getty Images | Oli Scarff

Airplanes are designed to have seats spaced out evenly with the seats next to the windows by their manufacturers, but it’s actually up to the individual airlines that purchase the plane to decide how they want to arrange the positioning — and they rarely follow the suggested designs.

Why not? According to a video from Today I Found Out, there are multiple tracks on the floor that the seats are mounted on, and they can be moved around.

There are recommended seat arrangements for each of the planes, but airlines usually try to pack as many seats as possible on each plane, which means more seats with less space between them. So when seats aren’t installed according to the original design, the seats and windows are not in alignment.


Essentially, airlines could arrange the seats to match up with the windows if they really wanted to, but most are concerned with filling up planes so they can offer cheaper fares in order to remain competitive. The upshot? You can afford your flight.

But you’ll likely have very little legroom — and you might not be able to gaze out the window as easily as you had hoped.

You can learn more about how airlines arrange their seating by watching the “Today I Found Out” video below.

[arve url=””/]

Staying Comfortable While Flying

While we’re on the subject of air travel (and you craning your neck to sneak a peek out the window), you might want to keep a few tips in mind for staying comfortable during your flight. For starters, consider packing a tennis ball, a super simple — and cheap — tool you can easily stow in your carry on. Once you are aboard, use the ball to roll out a tight lower back, a neck cramp or even sore feet.

tennis ball photo
Flickr | aloshbennett

A travel pillow can also be helpful in offering neck support when you’re trying to take a snooze. This one is designed by a sports therapist and trainer, and it looks oh-so-comfy.

How about you? What are your favorite tips for flying comfortably?