The window seat always has two armrests, one of them between the passenger and the window. In several hundreds of flights taken, it has always been unmovable.

Why does it not go up like the center armrest?

  • 1
    IMO better suited for Aviation.SE
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 23, 2017 at 18:29
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    Probably because it costs a little less to make, costs a little less to maintain and weighs a little less and when you multiply those "little less's" by the number of rows on a plane and the number of planes in a fleet, it adds up.
    – user13044
    Mar 23, 2017 at 18:35
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    On most aircraft, it can actually damage the inner cabin wall if raised, due to the curvature of the cabin - rather than allow people to try and force it, because we all know some idiots would, they simply restrict the raising of the arm.
    – Moo
    Mar 23, 2017 at 18:53
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    I imagine the other ones move to make it easier to get out. Since passengers don't generally (intentionally) leave through the window that one can be fixed in place. Mar 23, 2017 at 19:33
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    Fun fact: the aisle side armrest often can be raised. There may be a little button on the underside to release the catch. It usually won't go completely vertical, nor will it stay up by itself, but it can be convenient for getting in and out. I suspect the window armrest may have this same mechanism, but locked out. That way, identical sets of seats can be used for both sides of the aircraft, with the only difference being to lock the hinge on the window side. Mar 24, 2017 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


The same question as asked on Aviation Stack Exchange by user @FlorianSegginger in December 2015:

Why can't armrests be raised on window and aisle seats?

@aeroalias (with a 64k reputation) responded:

Apparently, it can be done, at least in some aircraft; even in those cases, the armrests are locked, unless one knows the location of the release button.

As for why, it seems that there is a possibility that the upright armrests can be an obstacle (for people in the next seat row) and FAA expects the cabin crew to ensure that the armrests are in forward condition prior to takeoff/landing. According to FAA Volume 3, Chapter 33, Section 3 Instrument and Equipment Requirements,

Inspection of the Hardman Model 9500 and other passenger seats installed on several aircraft, disclosed that the armrest in the upright or stowed position can protrude approximately 45 degrees aft the seat back. In the event of an emergency evacuation, protruding armrests could present an obstacle between seat passageways, obstructing emergency exit access. Air Carriers should emphasize to F/As that prior to takeoff and landing they verify that the armrests are in the normal forward/down position in order to ensure that they do not obstruct the passageway between the row of seats leading from the aisle to the emergency exit.

As this is a problem in aisle seats (armrests in middle seats cannot go back usually), they have to be fixed forward or at least locked in position. This is the reason for them to be locked in case of aisle seats. As for window seats, the sets are usually made in a row and you don't really know if the seat will end up in window or aisle i.e. whether the row will get fixed on left or right (or middle, in wide-bodies). Net result is that both the ends of the row are fixed just to be sure. In other words, the windows armrest is a collateral damage.

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    That answer appears to be incorrect, however, since it relies on the incorrect assumption that aisle armrests cannot be raised. They usually can, though it's necessary to find the hidden release button. Even on planes where I have been able to find such a button for the aisle seat, I've been unable to find it for the window seat, so at least some seats are not manufactured symmetrically "just to be sure," as claimed.
    – phoog
    Apr 1, 2017 at 17:01

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