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!