The New York Times recently published an article about a pilot who loved to fly and even when not flying would always take a window seat so that he could see the view. Now that is passion and a love of flying that is commendable.

I have to agree that sometimes a window seat is a wonderful and beautiful thing. For the most part, I am an aisle seat person when I can score one, and better yet, an exit row traveler when the stars aligned. Both types of seats aren’t of much use when viewing the sky panorama and the changing landscapes. However, on some flights I make an effort to sit by the window so that I can check out the view.

Capt. VanHoenacker claimed his favorite view was of London on an over-the-city approach into Heathrow. He also liked landing at LAX and SFO. LaGuardia was also singled out for its impressive views of New York City.

My favorites are different. I had a chance to fly over London last month and spot Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s and the Millenium Wheel. It was delightful. However, I find other views far more inspiring.

Here are five of my favorites:

Flying over the Alps on a clear day. The mountain peaks are always snow-capped and spectacular and the lakes nestled in the valleys are as beautiful from the air as they are when strolling beside them. Plus, since I write about ski resorts, I always have fun guessing which valley is where and whether the resort beneath me is St. Anton or Davos. (Pretty amazing shot out of the plane window. This is the picture with no Photoshop and no filters.)


Landing to the north in Venice. This approach brings passengers sitting on the right hand side of the plane almost over the city with its warren of canals, palazzi, campos and gelaterias. It is easy to pick out St. Marks, Santa Maria della Salute, the train station and see the fish shape of the city from the air.


Take off to the north or landing to the south at Reagan-National in Washington, DC. On take-off sit on the right hand side of the plane and for landing get a left-hand window. The view as the plane glides past the television towers, the National Cathedral, then the Watergate Complex, the Kennedy Center, the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Capitol, Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial is as good as it gets on a clear day. Even at night, with the buildings lit up, the view is delicious.


Landing to the south at Newark. Sit on the left-hand side of the plane and hope for a clear day. The landing approach takes the plane right to the western shore of the Hudson River. The George Washington Bridge, Columbia, Central Park, mid-town, the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village and Battery Park all slide by. Landing at sunset is a treat, with the entire city glistening a sparkling golden yellow in the end-of-day light.


Flying to the east of Sydney, Australia, making an approach to the airport. If you are lucky and sitting on the right-hand side of the plane, an early morning landing on a clear day is wonderful. In the distance, the highrise buildings of Sydney clearly show the city center and make the white Opera House and Harbor Bridge easy to find. The mouth of Sydney Harbor is flanked by Manly and Watson’s Bay, then the plane passes Bondi Beach before turning west to final approach at the airport.


Landing at Madrid, Spain. For me the beauty here is not the city or any manmade structures. I love the change of colors from almost black to dark reds to straw yellows to burnt sienna. Those changing colors and the shifting landscape from orchards to spreading fields and from river-cut ravines to dramatic plateaus is always captivating.

I’ve heard that landing in Rio is beautiful. I know the landing at Medellin, Columbia, is exciting as the plane passes between mountain peaks. I don’t remember my landings in Singapore, Bali, Phuket, Hong Kong or Bangkok. The approach to Geneva is always a treat and Frankfurt is forgettable.

What are some of your favorite views from an airline window?

Photos: Alps by Karen Cummings. Venice by Charles Leocha. Newark by www.allairports.net. Washington, DC, by allposters.com.