I suppose that every traveler has their preference when it comes to the question “window or aisle?” I’ve always opted for the window as I love to look outside and see what’s going on. It is one thing to see a city from the ground and completely another thing to see it from the air. A view from above gives a completely different perspective and can help to orient you as to the layout of a city and the surrounding area.
As I was pulling photos for the previous blog post I saw a picture that I’d captured on my flight from Dubai to Washington. My connecting flight took me right over the Hoover Dam (photo above). If I’d been in the aisle seat I would have missed this view (and photo) completely. As I looked at the photo, the woman in the seat next to me commented (to her husband in the aisle seat), “See, we should have taken the window seat.” The husband and wife both looked expectantly to the window as if the plane might roll over on its side providing them with a view. But the plane didn’t roll and my captive neighbors had nothing to look at but the back of the seat in front of them and the in-flight magazine.
In the last few years I have seen a great number of tourist sites that I wasn’t stopping at and got a “free” view. Some sites that come to mind are the Great Pyramids in Egypt, downtown Chicago, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Saint Hellens, Adams Rainier and Hood Mountains, downtown New York and Manhattan Island, and the beautiful Channel Islands off the coast of Los Angeles. I saw all of the Channel Islands last week as I flew in to LA from Washington State and our plane turned just north of Santa Catalina Island (photo below) and I was able to see to bay at Avalon as well as the rest of the island. I wasn’t flying to or visiting any of these destinations but I was able to see them.
Later, after we turned to fly into Orange County I was able to see Newport Beach and Balboa Island as we cleared the coast (below). I often think that much of the fun of travel is looking out the window and enjoying the scenery – especially in beautiful and beach destinations. I can’t imagine sitting at an aisle row seat while flying over Hawaii, the Great Pyramids or a beautiful ocean destination like San Francisco. A few years ago on a flight to Korea my plane flew along the coast of Alaska and then down the coast of Kamchatka on the eastern fringes of Siberia. There were hundreds of icebergs in the sea near the coast line and I could see massive glaciers that snaked their way back into the mountains. It was a spectacular view that I won’t soon forget. If you don’t regularly get a window seat I recommend that you consider changing to a seat on the plane where you can see the scenery on takeoff and landing and even while in flight.
Update: 10 May 2011
On my return from Alice Springs to Perth I made sure to ask which side of the airplane Uluru would be visible from and then asked for a window seat on that side of the plane. Sure enough, about 15 minutes after takeoff we flew right over that big red rock. I was very happy to be able to see it from the air – it was like getting a free ticket to fly over it on a sightseeing flight.
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