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I flew on a Boeing 737 plane yesterday and was sitting next to 2 windows. When I tried to rest my arm on the inner housing of the cabin during the flight, I noticed that the inner cabin housing just below one of the two windows was very cold. It was almost like touching a surface in your freezer. I was under the impression that it is not a common thing and that it could only result from outside air being in contact with the inner cabin housing which I believe is not supposed to happen.

I spoke to a flight attendant about it and he came check the window, but I feel like his feeling all in all was that I was worried for nothing, and I’m not sure he actually shared the information with anyone - and he did not thank me in anyway for reporting a potential issue.

I’m curious of anyone views on this issue. My uneducated guess was that it was maybe not a critical issue now, but a defect that should be known by maintenance teams as it could be tied to a structural issue of the outside window.

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It's not a structural problem, and nothing to worry about. The cabin of an airliner is a pressure vessel, the pressure outside of the airplane is far lower, if there was a leak air would be going out, not in. The air outside is very cold, which makes the skin of the airplane cold, there's insulation between the skin and the cabin fixtures but if that comes off a bit you get cold spots.

By all means tell the cabin crew so they can log it for the next time the airplane's in for maintenance, it's important for passenger comfort.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the very informative answer $\endgroup$ – Alex Oct 5 '18 at 12:45
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The air-conditioning packs are located under the floor, between the wings ahead of the landing-gear bays.

There is a duct which carries cold air to the crown of the fuselage and it is then distributed fore and aft. If I remember correctly, its usually located where the leading edge of the wing joins the fuselage. If you were seated around this area this duct could be the reason for the cold surface. There is usually insulation around the duct as mentioned by GdD and this could have been dislodged. Also the ducts are assembled using clamps and one could have come loose. Both these conditions could result in cold area leaking out and cooling the interior panels.

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I had a similar situation. It was during a flight from KTW to MIR. There was actually more or less 15 cm diameter and a couple of mm thick ice layer under my window inside the cabin.

While I see that other answers seem to suggest ignoring it, please read until the end of the story.

I'm a frequent flyer (used to have Platinum Topbonus membership when AirBerlin was still alive) and I've never encountered ice inside the cabin and a stream of really cold air right under the window before. I've decided to call a flight attendant.

As you could expect she told me initially with a very nice smile that ice on the window is completely normal. Same reaction as in other answers here - no offense. But when I finger-pointed the ice and said that I'd be fine with some ice on the window but not quite a chunk of ice under the window... her smile disappeared instantly - "Thank you sir, I will tell the pilots".

Less than 30 seconds later the captain came to check it. After a while of looking and touching he told me exactly this - "Thank you for reporting it. This is a problem for sure but don't worry - we definitely don't have a big breach in the fuselage and we are about to start the approach in 5 minutes so diverting to a different airport is not necessary. I will report it after landing - it has to be fixed before the next flight. You can change your seat if you don't feel comfortable here."

Don't be afraid to ask stupid question or report anything you find unusual during the flight. It's about the safety of you and other people on board. Just be polite, patient, cooperative and don't call them every 5 minutes :)

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