Why Do I Have An Airplane Door Fetish?

Filed Under: Travel

We’ve seen some incredible evolution when it comes to first & business class cabins over the past several months. One of the general trends that we’re seeing is more business class seats with doors.

The first cabin to feature this was JetBlue Mint, though in the meantime Qatar Airways Qsuites and Delta One Suites also feature business class seats with doors, and we just learned that Shanghai Airlines will have suites with doors in their new 787 business class.

JetBlue Mint seat

When I’ve commended airlines for introducing business class suites with doors, one of the most frequent questions I’ve received has been “what’s wrong with you and why do you have such a door fetish? Can’t you be on a plane for a few hours without a door?”

I thought that would be an interesting topic to address in this post. First of all, to answer the obvious, yes, I can be on a plane in a seat without a door. I can also be on a plane without direct aisle access, or without a flat bed, or without champagne, or without freshly brewed cappuccinos. All of those things are very possible. But as we see airlines evolve their seats, there’s nothing wrong with saying “hey, that’s a really cool feature that I like, and it differentiates your product.”

Why do I personally love having an enclosed suite on a plane? It’s because I’m typically a really bad sleeper. I wish it weren’t that way. I’m so jealous of those of you who can just pass out from takeoff to landing, even in economy. As a person I’m just someone who struggles to sleep if the conditions aren’t perfect. What are perfect conditions? For me it needs to be quiet, dark, cold, and private.

Maybe it’s weird, but I really struggle with sleeping in public. It’s not that I actually think anyone is watching me, but I’m self conscious in that regard, and I live in fear of sleeping with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, snoring, or whatever (at least I don’t talk in my sleep, as far as I know).

A door is just one more thing that makes me sleep better on a plane. I’m instantly put at ease when I know I’m not directly in anyone’s sight.

Qatar Airways Qsuite

A lot of people say “well, I don’t want to be confined in such a way, I don’t like this trend.” There’s some good news there — all of the business class suites with doors that have been introduced don’t actually take anything away from you, because you can just as easily leave your suite door open, and it’s the same as if you had an open layout. A business class product with a door is sort of like getting gay married — if you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it/use it!

Delta One Suite

This might surprise some people, but when I have a business class suite with a door, I don’t always use it. During the meal service or when I’m relaxing, I typically like to keep the door open. Once it’s time to sleep, though, it’s a feature I love.

Hopefully that answers the question that many of you have asked about why I’m obsessed with doors on airplanes. It’s not actually that I want 24/7 privacy, but rather that I’m a weird sleeper, and when it comes time to sleep, having the added privacy afforded by the door makes me feel so much more at ease.

Where do you stand on the trend of business class seats with doors — do you love it, are you indifferent, or do you hate it? How much do you end up using the door?

  1. I love doors too! I was disappointed when you seemed to prefer AF curtains over a door. Cue the claustrophobic commenters in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1

  2. Just why do people talk that way? Don’t people have lives and jobs and families?? Like don’t say anything if its not constructive…

    Nicely defended and good points. I think choice scares people and I admire you for embracing choice.

  3. @Ben, you say “A business class product with a door is sort of like getting gay married — if you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it/use it…”

    But is that really specific to gay married? I mean, doesn’t that apply to hetero marriages, too?

    I’m truly not trolling you here (which I think you know), I just found it confusing was all.

  4. PS – HUGE door fan here, btw, though I’ve never had a door on a biz. class flight, but I would prefer biz. cabins with doors.

  5. @ TravelinWilly — Maybe the context was lost, sorry. With so many people opposed to gay marriage, one of the common rebuttals is “well if you have such a problem with gay marriage, don’t get gay married.” Perhaps the comparison is a stretch, but the point was that the doors in business class don’t take anything away from you, so if you don’t want to use them, don’t. I made it specific to gay marriage since not many people are opposed to straight marriage.

  6. The only time I’ve had doors is in Emirates F. Loved it! Though I’m not sure how I feel about doors in J….

  7. OK, I’ll be the dissenter. Even with the ability to leave the door open, all the wall hardware gives the cabin the feel of a cramped cubicle-farm office. I like a more open cabin.

  8. Omg Ben you have me cracking up with the gay marriage comment–so accurate, all these anti-gay peeps need to just chill out and mind their own business! Great editorial haha

    @TravelinWilly I think the point was just that gay marriage and biz-class doors can both be sources of controversy even when they don’t directly affect an individual–everyone is already pretty accepting of hetero marriage whether they’re married or not 🙂

  9. I’m with @Jeff R. I like an open cabin rather than a bunch of tiny suites. KLM Business is good in this regard.

  10. Yes, I agree. Sleeping in public is just strange.

    It’s not a fetish, it’s a preference – and one I share.

  11. “I live in fear of sleeping with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, snoring, or whatever”

    I cracked up at this for hours! But it’s cool. I get you!!!

  12. Doors are great, because privacy is one of the most important features I look for when booking flights.

    It’s why I fly KE even with the small seats, or BA upper deck windows despite having to climb over people. Lie-flat seats are extremely common, most airlines have decent enough champagne, etc. Privacy though is the one area where certain airlines stick out, and I’m happy to see more and more airlines embrace it.

  13. I’ll second and say I just l really love having a door. There’s something just about controlling the line of sight that goes a long way to comfort, be it a bit more privacy or simply not feeling like you’re on display. The additional comfort you get flying JetBlue Mint’s suite over the same layout on a Delta 767 is tremendous.

  14. I was one of the people that asked why the fascination with doors only 1.2m high in J, and I do get that some people like to have the perception of privacy when sleeping, even though everyone walking past your sleeping body can see straight over the door and check out your hanging out tongue and drool on the pillow, LOL. Truly I get it, and don’t get me wrong, I like the idea on roomy cabins like SQ’s new 1st Suite, and Emirates new suites, and it’s sort of tolerable on Emirates old 1st seat with door, only because the seat is wider than it looks. But in J the pitch is shorter so the seats fore and aft of you impinge on your seat width, so do we really need a 50-70 mm wall either side of your seat to allow for robust sliding doors and bigger than necessary privacy screens on the centre row.

  15. @lucky @Jack – Thank you very much for explaining, I totally get it now, and I’ll be using that one myself…:)

  16. Interestingly lucky
    Your articles generally indicate that you sleep well regardless of door no door situation.
    Why do you really like doors??

  17. I ‘get’ the popularity of doors for those traveling alone, but since I almost always fly with my husband I prefer side-by-side seats that allow us to chat and dine as a couple. (Plus, if he falls asleep and snores I can nudge him – and vice-versa!)

  18. @Number 1

    Indeed…on those flights without doors…such as Cathay First…Lucky still sleeps consistantly well. I’m still wondering about this door fetish….maybe he is a secret nose picker.

  19. some people have a foot fetish, some people have an aeroplane door fetish. Each to their own I guess

  20. Personally reverse herringbone seats privacy wing and are angled away and not claustrophobic I love them

  21. Excellent addition but I have not yet been in Biz with a door – I would leave it open for meals and working and close it to sleep so as to cut off any distraction on the aisle or adjacent seats. Love progress.

  22. One of the few times I travelled in lie flats the lady next to me said she didn’t feel comfortable sleeping. Granted it was UA’s 8 across cabin. It struck me as odd, although I guess it’s not beyond the pale.

    I wonder how many travelers (in all classes) don’t sleep on planes? Do they stay up for 15 hours? And does it make a difference whether the seats are close/far, enclosed, etc?

  23. Haha love the gay marriage comparison!

    Never had the privilege of a door so far, but am sure I will love it!

  24. Great article. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel on the jetBlue Mint suite several times and I love the door.

    I think it depends on how close the other seats are around you. In the lie-flat position, it can feel a little MRI-ish around your head since the seats behind you are on each side of your head. The door will make it feel a bit more confining. Personally, I really like it that way. I think the window seat in the Mint 2-2 seats probably feels less confining and somewhat private though you’ll have to do the slow high jump to get out if the aisle seat is in lie-flat mode.

  25. Haha! So Lucky, not sure if you saw it, but I literally just posted the exact same comment on gay marriage as a response to all the idiots comparing gay rights to the gun debate on your Delta posts. I’m sure you don’t read all of your comments, but I will just assume that my comment in some way inspired you to work that in to one of your posts.

    I have issues sleeping too, so my assuming that my ‘gay marriage’ comment made it in your post will make me sleep better tonight!
    [Let me have it!) 🙂

    -one of your gay bros in Philly

  26. Great topic. If you read the comments at Skytrax for example, one the most annoying things for passengers in an aircraft are their fellow-passengers. So, to survive in a rough competition for high yield passengers, distance to the fellow-pax and a non-touching environment is a key point. Simply said: I don’t want to see faces all the time. So, doors and direct aisle access make absolutely sense. Privacy sells.

  27. The bed and space are the factors based on which I select my airline, regardless of cost. I have no opinions about doors. I don’t have any unusual sleeping habits and typically sleep the entirety of the journey during cruise so I have never needed a door. Noise cancelling earphones and my silk eye shades are sufficient for me.

  28. Ben, love the article as always, however I just read this blog from your Cathay 1st trip – looks like you have evolved into a door lover since those days

    “ requested turndown service as I was ready to sleep. Cathay Pacific has one of the most comfortable beds in the sky, actually largely thanks to the fact that it’s not fully enclosed. That makes it feel more spacious and less claustrophobic, in my opinion. “

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *