So, I’ve read about this. The William Shatner triangle. Every aircraft has them, or so its said. I invariably forget to look. I get stuck in to my book or a film and I forget all about looking for the thing. Can you look for me next time you fly? I’d really appreciate it.

What you’re looking for is a small black triangle that’s attached to the wall of the aircraft (are they called walls?) above the windows. There should be one on each side designating the ‘William Shatner seat’.

Now, this isn’t because those are special or protected seats. They’re not more expensive or even comfier. But nevertheless (according to what I’ve read) it’s essential that the cabin crew can easily identify the Shatner seats. Why you ask?

If you’re of a certain age, or a real telly-head, you might have figured it out. I did but there again, that ‘certain age’ passed me by a while ago.

If you’re younger, then you might remember Willian Shatner was the guy who was Captain Kirk in Star Trek. I nearly said ‘played Captain Kirk’ but let’s be honest, he was Captain Kirk).

This guy:

So we need to know now – what is the William Shatner triangle? What’s it for?

Well, before William Shatner found fame as Captain Kirk, he was a jobbing actor playing bit parts. One of his early television appearances in which he was more than just a minor player was in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

(Ah, those of you who guessed why a couple of aircraft seats are designated as William Shatner seats have really got it now!)

That episode, shown in October 1963, was called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. It was one of the best-known episodes of the series ever. It stuck in everyone’s mind. And it really was quite scary. Especially when you bear in mind that air travel wasn’t something that everyone was blasé about in those days.

William Shatner played the part of a young married man, on a domestic flight with his wife. The weather wasn’t good and (of course, this was a horror story) it was a night time flight.

Today when we travel by air, we understand pretty much how aircraft work. Air travel holds no fears for us. The most annoying thing about travelling by air is the airport, after all. But not so in those days…

As the rain lashes down, and many of the passengers snooze, William Shatner can’t settle. He’s not fully comfortable with air travel. He tires reading but eventually resigns himself to looking out of the window.

Watch the clip below to find out what he sees…


Now okay, to us in this day and age, the creature on the wing is more of a comedy character than anything to worry about. Today, we’d probably laugh and assume we’d had a glass of wine too many.

But in 1963 they didn’t have the realistic computer-generated monsters that we’re so accustomed to today.

Still, it’s a bit spooky, the way that no one believed him, the way the creature would disappear when anyone else looked, the way he was carted off on a stretcher as a madman at the end…

Isn’t it great to know though that this TV show from more than fifty years ago is still ‘commemorated’ on aircraft today?

Well, it’s not exactly a commemoration. You see, the seats near the black William Shatner triangles are the ones with the best view of the wings.

If a member of the cabin crew has to check the wings visually for any reason – in case they are icing up for example – then he or she can quickly locate which windows have the best view.

It’s a terribly mundane explanation for something so mysterious but maybe one day, as a cabin crew member checks the wings for ice, just maybe there’ll be a creature crawling along there…




JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.

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