The most annoying thing about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the ability of the crew to prohibit window shades from being opened. Flight attendants at United were reminded this week not to lock these dimmable windows.
United To Flight Attendants: Don’t Force Window Shades To Darken
“Window shades” is a bit of a misnomer because the 787 doesn’t actually have window shades. Instead, like transition lenses, there is a button under each window that can darken or lighten the glass to control light.
The problem is that flight attendants can centrally control this. In my experience, even on daytime flights, this leads to flight attendants quickly locking the window shades into a darkened mode. Once that lock is engaged, a passenger has no control over the window shades.
While that may please some passengers who wish to sleep or watch movies, that’s not why I choose a window seat on a daytime flight. I function better with natural light and also like to look out the windows.
In a short note to flight attendants, United reminded them not to “force window shades to darken or lock them at a set level”:
“Remember, on B787s, please don’t use the flight attendant panel to force window shades to darken or lock them at a set level. This prevents customers from adjusting their window shades as they prefer.”
Now, the question is will flight attendants listen? Please note your experience in the comments section below.
This is a big issue for me. I even had a nightmare about it…
While a window seat passenger should be sensitive to blinding light that may adversely affect other passengers, the window shade is made to be opened, not kept shut. I am pleased by this reminder.
As an avowed window seat enthusiast, overzealous window shade policing is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’m glad UA is trying to do something about it. Though I find it a bit puzzling that locking the dimmers seems to be an issue with only UA FAs. I’ve flown AA’s 787s a few times, and they’ve always left them unlocked on daytime flights.
Don’t be that guy who has his window shade up when everybody is trying to sleep.
Relax, I don’t do that. I’m talking about on daytime flights when half or more of the cabin is awake, but the FAs come by and order all the shades down (or just plop them down without asking). Yes, that does happen.
Exactly. There is always a stupid guy that is that staring outside when everyone is trying to sleep or the guy that sleeps with his shade up and gets the sun inside the cabin when everyone else is sleeping. Ok, I like to put my shade up when they are serving breakfast and all internal lights are up before landing but having it up mid flight when people are trying to sleep that is unacceptable.
Even on, say, a CDG-JFK morning departure?
Window seat controls the window. Don’t like it? Get a window seat. It is as simple as that.
I always keep the shade up. If it annoys anybody too bad. There is a reason I get the window seat.
If it’s early morning and people had to get up at 4-5 am then a shade shouldn’t be left open to annoy the rest of the cabin. Just because youre to weak to cope without without light for a couple hours doesn’t mean make everyone else miserable, you’re just sounding arrogant and self centered. “but muh natural light!”
You dont have comense…….estupid,jajaja
Eye masks and earplugs could go a long way in controlling your environment without controlling the behavior and preferences of fellow passengers. The seat recline is what should be centrally controlled as that really does impact others with no ability to remedy the discomfort.
Not everyone sleeps on the plane. I personally prefer the shades up whether I sit by the window or not, whether I manage to sleep or not. Natural light is preferred over artifical light anytime, get an eye masks if it’s a bother. Just as I wear ear phones to block the noise and chatter of others, they’re never asked to be quiet for the sake if those sleeping.
Thank you, Donald Trump
It has to do with the air conditioning on the plane. When on the ground, planes hook up to ground power instead of keeping the engines running and using expensive engine fuel. Flight attendants are asked to lower the shades because it keeps the plane a bit cooler while on the ground. I’m sure you’ve noticed once in the air, the plane starts to cool down.
Why the hell did Boeing even make a master switch for flight attendants to control your window when you paid for a window seat? Silly move.
You pay for a Ride. Not a seat… not a window. Public transportation. A Ride!
Oh yeah. Why even ask for a seat, just stand up in isles holding a bar like in a bus or train.
Actually Bozo, you DO pay for a seat. Many airlines nowadays CAN and DO charge passengers for advance seat selection. If I pay extra fees for a window seat, I am entitled to have that window open or closed as I see fit.
Because new technology is almost always about control.
Both BA 787 flights I’ve been on, the attendants will dim all the windows but leave them unlocked for anyone to “un-dim”. I think this is the best strategy next to not doing anything at all.
Agreed. I don’t have a problem with this as long as they remain unlocked.
What happens on the plane stays on the plane.
People should be allowed to settle between themselves whether the window stays dimmed or not, including beating each other up if required.
I would be willing to A few dollars extra just for the chance to watch a fight breakout.
There will never be a compromise.
For those who think windows are made to open but not to shut, why don’t airlines just get rid of the shades? Those who want to sleep can simply put on a mask.
Sometimes you shut it as a courtesy to the others. Not everyone likes a mask. But on the other hand, not everyone likes artificial lights so this issue will never be resolved.
And there is no right or wrong. Period.
From a flight from Hong Kong to Auckland, I was about to watch a fight between a drunkard passenger and male flight attendant but an older staff Lady difused it.
Daymn… Need some entertainment in the sky.
I do like how UA locks the window shades. Nothing is worse than a mid day flight back across the pond from FRA or LHR and that ONE person insists on having their shade open, flooding BF with light, when others are trying to sleep or watch a movie.
You might really like a nifty new invention. It’s called an eyeshade (or eye mask) – I think it’s going to be next best thing!
I can’t stand it when FAs force you to shut your window shade or lock the windows on the 787. Plenty of people are trying to adjust their body clocks to their final destinations (which is not always where the plane they are on is landing!) and don’t want to sleep or have the window shut. Most screens have some degree of anti-glare protection and eye shades work wonders…
I have eyeshades, and they work great. However, when I fly I always book a window seat and I always leave the shade up, partially. That’s why I bought a window seat, and it keeps me from getting airsick.
Matthew, you were too kind, calling that a short note. It is better described as a terse note, caused by passenger complaints, in response to the window shade nazis.
Wow, unlocking the shades would mean FA’s would have to be “attentive” to those who are awake; I guess they would have to serve people who choose to stay awake and maybe want a meal or a beverage instead of going off into their own little corners or jumpseats to ignore the whole planeload of people. This must be the extra measure after they crank up the heat to get everyone in a state of sleepiness. I get it on a red-eye or flying in constant daylight east to west (or west to east) over the Pacific but don’t lock it down the entire time – so as to get your service over with on 12 of the 14 hours of flight. I despise sitting in the dark to eat my meal. I can barely sleep at all even on the longest flights so give some of us the ability to see a little daylight and stay awake.
I recall an American flight NRT-DFW, first class. The FA asked me to out my shade down so it would be closed when the sun rises. I nicely explained to her that I liked to see outside and it was unlikely I would sleep. Each time I left my seat to visit the lavatory I found my shade down on my return. I out it up, and she would immediately rush over to ask me to out it down….and each time I told her I preferred it open. It became a test of wills. I did not sleep and when the sun came up I enjoyed the view. My paid seat, my window……
Did FA provide poor service overall, especially when you kept putting the shade back up?
It’s everyone’s window. U didn’t buy a window or a seat, you bought a plane ticket to ride on public transportation. In case you don’t realize the glare at certain angles is bad for the people across the aisle. Be considerate! Why do you want to be mean?
Teresa wins for silliest/most obnoxious comment in the thread. If you’re sitting at the window, it’s your decision. Period. Book the freaking window seat if you want it closed. Said as an aisle guy…
OK, so something is odd with U.S. flight attendants and window shades. Have you all noticed over the past year that on AA the shades are often closed cabin wide when boarding? Even during the winter. Even during the day. I get it in Phoenix during the summer, but really, in Boston in January?
Why is this? It’s especially curious given that in Europe and other areas they are required to stay open during take off and landing for safety reasons. So, why?
Is it a tactic they have learned to “sleep” the passengers? Is it to provide a more romantic ambiance? Are F/A’s really vampires? It’s really strange and I am pretty much thinking it is because they find that the more people sleep the less they have to actually do.
It’s a fair question and something I have noticed on United as well. I don’t like it at all…
I think you need to investigate this, Matthew. I could care less one way or the other, I carry multitudes of eye shades. But I am really curious of this new trend, especially in light of everywhere else in the world that they need to be up for takeoff and landing.
This has to do with the security search. The cleaners put the shades down to make sure no contraband is taped to the upper portion of the window shade.
Interesting! I had no idea.
From this same company, in the pre-flight responsibilities, one FA was responsible for dimming (not locking) window shades before passenger boarding. That responsibility mysteriously disappeared a few months ago.
@GSNICK-Travel with an eye shade. Sorry to annoy you, but if I am at a window seat, I get to control the shade. Not you and not a FA. If I want to read my book with daylight instead of the poorly designed overhead light, too bad. If I want to keep the shade open on a daylight, westbound transatlantic flight to avoid jet-lag, it is my prerogative. If you don’t like it, you book the window seat next time.
What about when eyeshades don’t help, when the sun is belting you’re eyeballs and you want to see something other than the back of an eyeshade. And maybe you’re in a window seat but it’s a sunbeam from across the aisle.
More of a question of curiosity, for some reason the last few months this is happening more frequently for me.
I have yet to fly on that plane but even regular trans-atlantic flights I have been yelled at by flight attendants to shut my blinds. I get bad anxiety on flights and that is why I pay extra for window seats. If keeping my blinds open on 16 hour flights is not an option I should be informed of this ahead of time.
I think it’s ridiculous that flight attendants tell people what to do with their window shades, especially seeing as many airlines are now charging extra fees for the privilege of a window seat.
“ Let the sunshine in”? Perhaps they’re ageing hippies. More likely just selfish pests. But I agree that they have the right to open should they wish to.
After reading through numerous comments on other boards and forums, it’s clear that the public is split down the middle on this issue. I’m trying to look at this through an objective lens. The argument that keeps getting repeated from the “Shades Down” crowd is: “I had to wake up really early for my 7am flight, I didn’t get much sleep so now I need to catch up yada yada”.
Well the problem with that logic is that not all flights depart at or before 7am. This might come as a huge surprise to some, but many flights actually depart late morning or even (gasp!) early to mid-afternoon. So you have the option of booking a later flight if you’re not a morning person. Also, ever hear the old saying “early to bed, early to rise”? Common sense dictates that if you have to wake up at 4am for a flight, you may want to go to bed early so you are not so groggy.
The fact is that humans are not owls or raccoons. We’re diurnal, meaning that our bodies are genetically hard-wired to sleep at night, not during the daytime. I will never understand how or why people turn into such photosensitive narcoleptics whenever they step onto an airplane. I’d love to see what these folks’ houses/apartments look like. Do they board up all their windows just to make it dark or do they live in underground dungeons? For me, seeing so many fully-grown adults sleeping or napping on a commercial flight — even during the middle of the day — is completely baffling. I realize that flying may be boring but that’s why there are books and movies to help you pass the time.
On that note: the passenger cabin does NOT need to be pitch-black for you to see your tablet, laptop, IFE screen, etc., Spare us the sob stories about blinding glare making it impossible to see anything. I see plenty of people using their cell phones and tablets at the beach or in the park, etc., so why does it suddenly become such a huge issue on an airplane? Airplanes are not movie theaters or nightclubs. Your electronic device has a brightness control – use it.
Thank you, my feelings exactly. I enjoy daylight. It’s almost like people are afraid of doing something, like, God forbid, raise the window shade if it’s already closed when getting on board. Something about flying makes people like scared little children afraid to disobey the teacher. Light and air – isn’t that what makes people want to be alive?
Thank you Jo Ellen
As a flight attendant that is truly awful. I would never ask anyone to lower their shade, even if it’s blinding as it can be at certain times of the day. The ONLY time I will request the window shade open is in the exit row for take off and landing, so one can see out the window. That is in the US. We do sometimes ask that shades be lowered in warmer locations to help keep the plane cool. But that’s it.
I also have the right to recline my economy seat into your lap when you didn’t get your upgrade. After all, that’s why I got a seat with a recline button on it.
Yes, you do.
The window shades closed when you board are a result of the ground cleaning crews, not the cabin crew. Crews have a lot more important things to do than going around shutting non dimming window shades when they board. Closing the window shades something all contracted ground cleaning crews do while cleaning an aircraft that’s not on a quick turn.
You maybe have even noticed that on UA flights, cabin crews are now instructed to ask passengers to open their window shades for take off and landing which bottom line is a smart move for safety. Give it a couple of weeks before someone on here is complaining and questioning that request….
Wait a minute. You can still see out the window when the shade is down. So I don’t see the point of your article. The shades in the 787 are like wearing sunglasses…and when the sun is blinding out the window, on what planet don’t you put on sun glasses. And if you don’t care about your vision, please be considerate and put on the sunglasses for others in the cabin. Also, the flight attendants may hit the switch in Los Angeles during the summer to reduce the heat in the cabin while on the ground. You may think they forget to unlock the adjustment, but they have a checklist, you do not. Be patient, they will return positive control so you can poke your button when the air in the cabin passes for human tolerance. Also, keep you finger on the button, the change isn’t immediate…so you may be under the delusion you don’t have control. Again, be patient. You must have been one of those kids in the backseat of your car who’s parents always locked you window control from the front seat…you couldn’t be trusted to sit there and not play with things. Buy a fidget spinner. Leave the damn window control alone.
My previous response got a bit long-winded and off topic, hence the second post. I just wanted to say that I’m glad this article was published because I’m a firm believer in transparency.
Without question, UA issued this directive because they were getting a barrage of complaints from passengers. I’m a window seat guy and on every single daytime flight, I can recall
at least one FA approaching me and asking me to lower my window shade.
There has never been any doubt in my mind that cabin crews systematically induce a dark cabin in order to make passengers sleepier, quieter, calmer, etc., They’ll deny this, because of the insinuation that the FAs are simply being lazy and trying to reduce their workload. I don’t even think this is necessarily their motivation (they may simply be trying to keep the passengers calm
and quiet) but it doesn’t matter. It’s still wrong to do this, and next time I fly in a 787 I am going to make darn sure that the window tint controls are a left unlocked. If they aren’t, I’ll be reaching out to the airline.
Let’s be clear about the 787 and the window shades; it simply allows for varying levels of tint for the windows and will still allow for a people to see out of the window while allowing those that want to sleep to do so without eyeshades due to a lower level of light entering the cabin. Having natural light enter the cabin while others are trying to sleep is very disruptive to sleeping. I love the locking feature as there’s always one person that demands the bright natural light even given there is a sufficient amount of light provided by the reading light. It really is a compromise for everyone.
I find that almost all airlines ask you to lower your shades (or dim them on B787s) on pretty much all flights nowadays. Annoying.
Window shades should be open during departure and arrival but closed during cruise. As an avid traveler who is still in awe every time I fly, there isn’t anything special (95% of the time) at cruise. Open window shades stop others from sleeping and cause glare on monitors of those trying to watch movies. I understand the enjoyment of looking outside, but let’s be honest, most people who are advocating for keeping them open during cruise aren’t looking out the window that often to justify the inconvenience of those around you. If you want to a stare at clouds that bad, open you laptop and stare at you cloud wallpaper.
I agree with you 100%
What on earth do you want to see out the window at 40,000 feet? Clouds, the wing, maybe UFOs?
I love the feature on the 787 to lock the window shade.
It‘s about natural light not about looking outside. Are you really this dense?
As a flight attendant myself, I could honestly tell you that we would only suggest to low the window shades between 2 meal services on our long haul flights to give everyone a few hours of desirable environment to rest and / or watch movies. The cabin light is always stayed on and passengers could do whatever they like with the window shapes!
Just to remember, you pay for the window seat but you don’t own the sole right to control the opening and closing of the window, what happen if the other passengers around you all wanted the window to be lowed? It’s all about the kind consideration for the majority of the traveling public!
Funny how a aircraft cabin has turned into a battle ground where fights erupted over seating, overhead space, seat recline and window shades etc etc simply because that stupid sense of entitlement!
100% agree with this. I was on AF 777 CDG-BOS in biz. After Lunch the FA rudely reached across me and slammed the shade down. He stated that it needs to be down for “quietness time”.
As a European who flies westbound, I haven’t had this issue yet, luckily for the FAs who would get to deal with me.
There’s six hours of difference between Italy and New York and if you fall asleep on that westbound flight, you can forget about fighting jet lag when you arrive. You’ll be screwed.
It’s a cynical ploy to get passengers to fall asleep so the FAs can go off and relax. The FAs are getting paid, whereas I paid, specifically for a window seat which cost more.
Who pays wins.
I had a flight attendant close my window shade without asking on a 777 recently. I stopped him and he looked pissed. It was a day flight from LHR to SFO. I wanted natural light to get my body on PST again.
I’ve been told to close my shade when it was dark outside. ?? I have no idea what that is supposed to accomplish. Wait. I think it was to avoid sunlight when the Sun came up. That was several, like 5, hours in the future.
I always bring my own comfortable eye mask.
While returning from Iceland I was looking out my window at some spectacular ice while flying in business class. . Someone complained to a FA, saying they wanted to sleep. I pointed out to the FA that in business class everyone is provided with an eye mask. Nuf said. She went away.
Some natural light helps postpone my jet lag. I book a window seat and keep the window partially open, or partially undimmed, for that reason. I get that some people try to sleep, but your desire to sleep does not somehow magically trump my desire to stay awake. I am respectful, but there are a lot of ways for you to keep out natural light and no ways for me to create it (and if you think the reading light does that, I really question your intelligence)