Advice Columns

Miss Manners: Window seat occupant is master of most of what she surveys

Q: Who is the boss of the airplane window?

I happen to enjoy sitting next to the window so I can look out at the scenery below and because looking out helps me feel less claustrophobic. However, many people prefer the cabin nice and dark so they can look at their various devices.

At 8 a.m. on a long flight, a woman asked me to shut my window. I explained that I liked it at least halfway up as it helped me feel less claustrophobic. She summoned the flight attendant and got that woman to insist that I shut my window completely. Not wishing to cause trouble at 10,000 feet, I complied, becoming bored and anxious.

Conversely, when I am in an aisle seat, is it rude to ask the stranger next to me to raise the shade, especially when landing?

So who is in charge? The person sitting right by the window, or everyone else on a plane?

A: The person seated by the window — with limitations, of course. After all, the person on the aisle is in charge of access to the bathroom, but would be wrong to deny you yours. Compromises must be made.

To fend off future scuffles, Miss Manners suggests that you politely inform your travel companions of your window preferences as soon as you are seated. But if their preferences are more pressing than yours, then you should oblige.

Q: I have lived in my neighborhood for 26 years. One of my neighbors, who has also lived here for 26 years, built a new home four miles away. It has been five months since the move, and no one has been invited over to see her new home.

I thought that she would be having a housewarming party at some point in time, but I did send a new-home card with a gift card to a local nursery right after the move.

Another neighbor saw her and asked when she could come to see her new house. The reply was, “When I have my going-away party.”

We do not know how to fix this. We have always had going-away parties for people moving out of state for their jobs, but never just to move to a new home nearby. This neighbor did have a party for a couple next door to her who were moving because they were getting divorced.

Should we have given her a going-away party for moving four miles away? We have still gone to lunch with her, gone to dinner with them, had the couple over for bonfires and included her in showers.

A: Watch out for people who demand that parties be given for them.

But “whoops!” you are one of them. Your now-somewhat-more-distant neighbor is sulking because she was not given a farewell party. And you are complaining that she isn’t giving a housewarming party.

Miss Manners would call that a draw. As the neighbors continue to include the former neighbor socially, the test will be whether she reciprocates that sort of hospitality, not whether either of you is owed a party from the past.

Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.