Recently onboard an aircraft, a fellow passenger told me that the cabin dividers (walls) inside an aircraft are there to limit your line of sight such that you will not notice the flex of the airplane.

I know that some walls are there because of the presence of a lavatory or are actually used to create a barrier between Economy class and Business class. However as can be seen in the photo below, the circled wall is doing none of the above. KLM 777

Was my fellow passenger right?

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    $\begingroup$ I have heard that was such the case for particularly long aircraft (a340-600), from an Airbus employee... But they may have been misinformed themselves :) $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2019 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ Somehow I can't help but wonder if that passenger also believed that the aircraft were throwing out chem-trails... $\endgroup$
    – UKMonkey
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ Couldn't someone in an aisle seat poke their head around and see? Or am I misunderstanding? $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2019 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Clearly, someone has never flown Southwest? :) $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2019 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ @CaptainMan, if you do that during taxi when all the curtains are open and you're sitting in the back of long aircraft such as the 777 you can clearly see the fuselage flexing as the plane rides over the bumps in the apron $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2019 at 7:18

2 Answers 2


Was my fellow passenger right?


That photo is taken in a B777-300 (2 aisles, 4 seats in the centre and three at the sides, lavatories only behind the central rows, rows on the left side of the aircraft are one more than the central ones at that location):

enter image description here

As you can see the wall is just were an emergency exit is, and if you will look on the other side of the wall you will find a "jump seat", i.e. a foldable seat used by the crew, and the wall is there for it.

Also, walls help in dividing the aircraft in different classes.

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    $\begingroup$ Agreed, you really aren't going to see any flex, it's to separate the unwashed coach-dwellers in steerage from those willing to shell out triple the money for 2 inches more space. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Apr 8, 2019 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @GdD 2" is a big deal if it's the difference between 1" shorter than your femur and 1" longer! $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Apr 8, 2019 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ @GdD Or from those willing to shell out some points and $5 for a seat the folds out into a 6.5-foot-long bed. :) But, yes, you're right that those bulkheads are usually just cabin dividers unless there's a galley or lav or something there. Sometimes they're also for mounting FA jump seats by exit doors. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Apr 8, 2019 at 15:17

You won't be able to detect any flex in an airliner fuselage sighting down the interior without optical instrumentation of some kind, or a laser. Where partition dividers are used without any obvious purpose, like separating classes or providing something to anchor something to, it's to break up "tunnel effect" of rows of heads in a tube out in front of you seemingly going to infinity, which some people can find disorienting when the big tube is moving, and can even aggravate motion sickness in someone prone to it.

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    $\begingroup$ If you're sitting in the back of a 777 and look forward during taxi when all the curtains are open you can clearly see the aircraft flexing if it goes over bumps in the apron $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2019 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ You could see the fuselage flex in the DC-8-71/73 $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2019 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ It's an optical illusion. There's flexing going on, but if it was flexing so much it was apparent to someone just sitting there looking down the tube, movement of inches in other words, I'd want out. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Apr 9, 2019 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ I've been in the rear of a 757 and looking down the aisle where the flex was all too apparent. $\endgroup$
    – Anilv
    Apr 10, 2019 at 4:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnK good thing there are dividers, then. You're right about the reasons for the dividers, but you can certainly see flex if you look past them. $\endgroup$
    – Adam
    Jul 26, 2019 at 1:15

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