GULLIVER was just reading about Ryanair’s decision to shorten the window of time in which customers can check in before a flight, from a week to four days. The idea is to give those who are prepared to pay to reserve a particular seat more chance of success. (Pony up, and four days’ check-in time becomes a week again.)

That got him to thinking why anyone would pay to reserve a specific seat on Ryanair, given that the best ones—exit seats and the like—are sold separately. It must be people who are desperate to ensure they sit either in the aisle or by the window. This realisation then demanded its own debate on which is preferable.

It goes without saying that no one wants to be stuck in the middle seat. When travelling alone it means you have two strangers’ elbows and knees to combat. Flying en famille is just as bad. Gulliver’s young daughter insists on the window, so sitting in the middle row means hours of reading her books rather than his own. Worse, it means virtually no chance of plugging himself into some Alice Coltrane, closing his eyes and drifting...Continue reading