Have you ever wondered why when you’re flying somewhere you are required to open the window shades on an airplane during takeoff and landing?
Turns out there’s a good reason for it.
According to IFLScience, it’s for your own safety. Seriously.
Why do they say that? Because they site an article published by Schiphol International Airport which states, “It’s for your own safety.”
Okay, okay, there’s more to it than that.
“If anything happens during take-off and landing – the riskiest stages of every flight – then your eyes will already be used to the dark or the light outside, and you’ll be able to react more quickly,” the airport explains. “That’s also the reason why the lights in the cabin are dimmed for take-off and landing.”
Interestingly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t require airlines to make passengers open up the window shades. They just do it on their own.
According to United Airline’s Association of Flight Attendants, “Smoke or a fire inside the cabin may not be visible to emergency services from the outside with the shades closed. Their ability to determine the best location to enter an aircraft is just another reason shades should be open.”
IFLScience also cites an article by Condé Nast Traveler which explains, “For example, during an emergency evacuation, flight attendants or passengers need to be able to see outside to determine whether it’s safe to open and use an emergency exit. You don’t want to send someone out an over-wing exit if the engine on that side is still running or on fire.”
No, you certainly don’t want to do that.
In 2020, however, United Airlines announced in an internal memo to flight crew that is was going to start allowing passengers to close their window shades during takeoff and landing.
In 2022, the Association of Flight Attendants expressed concern with this change in policy.
“If it raises the level of safety, it is difficult not to ask, what is the harm?” the organization wrote. “For some reason, it is okay to request passengers close their window shade after arrival under hot/sunny conditions for cabin comfort, however, when it comes to safety, it is no longer [standard operating procedure] to request all of our passengers seated near the window seat to open their window shade during critical phases of flight. This seems backward and, candidly, contradicts what’s right for safety.”
So there you have it – the reason why airlines ask you to open the window shades on takeoff and landing. Easy enough to do, right?
After all, there are far more concerning things to worry about on a plane than the window shade.
Like the actual window itself.
Check out even more flying tips, tricks, advice (and horror stories) here.