What we lose when airlines won’t let us look out the windows

by N. Gabriel Martin

The centrally-controlled dimming windows on newer airliners are an attack on human dignity, an affront to liberty, an insult to the sublimity of flight, and a curse against the beauty of our planet.

Now let me tell you how I really feel. I’ll admit that there might be more important things happening in the world than my inability to look out this window beside me. I can’t think of any right now, though.

No, right now all I can think of are the Greenlandic fjords and glaciers that Air Canada and Boeing are robbing from me. That’s because seeing sights like these are among the great privileges that the modern world has brought into our lives. Or rather, that it used to.

A lot of the talk about air travel is on the deprecating side, and to an extent I understand that. Like any travel, flying is difficult, and it’s gotten more difficult over the past decades as security has increased and low-cost airlines have introduced policies that are intended to inconvenience us (knowing that enough of us will upgrade out of frustration).

But all of those are trifles when compared to the miracle of flight! It is a miracle that I get to soar thousands of feet in the air, without any special training and without having to pay all that much (thanks to those low-cost carriers), while travelling hundreds of miles an hour and while gazing down at the landscape and the clouds.

Flying has allowed me to gaze down at parts of the earth I would not have been able to experience—the Rub’ Al Khali desert, alpine villages, a high peak in the outer Hebrides that scraped through the cloud like outstretched talons. Read more »