windowshades up Poll: Should you lower the windowshades during a daytime flight?

The International Herald-Tribune’s Roger Collis gets a question from a reader regarding the etiquette of windowshades on longhaul flights.

Great question, but he doesn’t really answer it.

Instead, Collis proceeds to describe the windowshade policy on British Airways and Air France. All well and good, but he nonetheless fails to address the reader’s question about the etiquette of windowshade use.

To be fair, it’s not a cut and dried answer. So let’s try to answer it ourselves.

Here’s the original question:

On a recent trans-Atlantic flight with Air France, I was asked to pull down my window shade by a stewardess. I refused as it was daytime and I had no desire to sleep. She insisted, but I held my ground and told her to take the matter up with the captain. She left me alone after that. Was I within my rights to keep my window shade open? Philip Cokkinos, Athens

Collis’ answer just describes the airlines’ rationale for wanting to lower the shades, but it ignores the passengers’ preferences. So how about a passenger who says no? The etiquette on this could go any number of ways.

The body’s internal clock and the amount of sunlight outside aren’t necessarily in sync, so your body could be tired and ready for sleep even though you’re flying in bright sunlight. (This is an issue on eastbound trans-Pacific flights that depart at night, for example. But on a daytime trans-Atlantic flight, your body shouldn’t necessarily be expecting sleep. You could take a siesta, sure, but it’s not quite as necessary as on the eastbound flight.) Regardless, if people are trying to sleep, keeping your shades open could be disturbing to others.

But if you selected a window seat specifically to look outside, to see the beauty of the world from above, why should you sacrifice that? Does it matter what you’re flying over? What if it’s cloudy?

What about people trying to watch a movie? Should you give up your view so someone else can get a better resolution on their 5 inch screen showing “Norbit”?

And of course, if you’re claustrophobic, you’ve got a good argument for keeping the shades up.

So was the reader within their rights to keep the windowshades open? Or should the cabin be dark in flight? Let the people have their say. Vote!

windowshades poll results Poll: Should you lower the windowshades during a daytime flight?


pixel Poll: Should you lower the windowshades during a daytime flight?
Categorized in: advice, airlines

9 Responses to “Poll: Should you lower the windowshades during a daytime flight?”

  1. Abraham Says:

    I am an Air France only customer on T/A flights. If the pax referenced above had paid any attention to the pre-takeoff announcements, he would have realized it is AF POLICY to lower the window shades during take-off. Thus, said pax was not within their rights b/c they defied an order from the flight crew (and indirectly, from the Captain). I would guess that the steward felt it was easier to ignore this pax than anger everyone else on-board by involving the entire flight crew (i.e., alerting the Captain).

    This actually highlights a more general issue… no matter how monotonous and long, on-board announcements should never be ignored. They are there for your safety, comfort, and most of all, they are the rules during flight!!

  2. quarkdoll Says:

    You mean -raise- the shades during take-off (and landing) – oui? (Unless AF is unlike every other major airline, and intent on being purposely unsafe — peut être vrai, les français (et les françaises) sont les français (et les françaises)…)

  3. niccolo Says:

    In the future, this will be less of an issue. Newer airplanes will have windows that dim, but are not totally opaque. So, you’ll be able to look out the window, and not disturb your neighbors.

  4. Tim Arai Says:

    I’m torn about this. I fly frequently to Japan and I have to admit, it annoys me when someone opens up the shade in the middle of the flight after the lights are dimmed. It wakes people up and it’s jarring. But at the same time, I suppose they also have the right to look outside.

    I guess though, if I were in the window seat, as I know how annoying it can be to the people near you, especially the ones who are sleeping and trying to not get jet lag, I would resist the urge.

    After all, it’s not just ME on the flight but a few hundred other people. Many of which are sleeping.

  5. Oliver Says:

    If you plan on sleeping on a plane, might I suggest eye shades and ear plugs? Problem solved.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Who is the wishy-washy reader who added this option to the voting: “As in any social situation, you have to balance what everyone around you wants, and try for the best balance.” And who are the 58 people who picked that!

    That’s exactly the problem: You can’t balance this sort of thing. Any open shades will piss off some people. Keeping the windows shut the whole time annoys others. And letting people open and shut them periodically for a strobe light effect is maybe the worst for everyone.

    Eyeshades for sleepers, open shades for folks who want them. Put my vote down for “Yes of course!”

  7. Matt Says:

    Basically, my opinion (right or wrong) is that s/he who controls the window seat, controls the window.

    The only time I have seen this different is for takeoffs and landings when the airline might specify that the windowshade HAS to be open.

  8. I. Says:

    I always leave the shades down during the flight out of respect for fellow passengers, even though I do enjoy a peak out once in a while. On another note, I’ve been on three flights where the person behind me and my boyfriend insisted with great persistence that I do not recline my seat… even though the person in front of me and 509830843 rows ahead have done so. It’s not a big deal since I’m a petite Asian, but for my 6ft boyfriend it’s been less than comfortable with his long legs.

  9. Abraham Says:

    Nope, it’s actually LOWER your window shade. I should be clear that this takes place during ascent/descent, not while taxiing. I’m not sure why, b/c I agree with you on the logic.

    Ultimately, I have never felt in danger with AF. After all, they evacuated my parents off the Airbus crash in Toronto.

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