American Airlines has told flight attendants to stop locking 787 window dimmers. Thank you American for instructing your crews to stop prohibiting passengers from being able to look out their window, a move which parallels instructions United Airlines has given to flight attendants.
American Airlines 787 Window Dimmers – Hands Off Flight Attendants!
On daytime flights, I always choose a window seat when available. It’s precisely because I like to look out the window (wow, what a concept) and control my light. I far prefer natural light to the hard light of the overhead lamp and note that watching the sunrise on a transatlantic flight seems to help my body’s rhythm adjust and proactively combat jet lag.
But this can get tricky on a Boeing 787, which features dimming glass, like transition glasses, instead of traditional window shades. That’s nice in theory, but often not so much in practice.
That’s because flight attendants lock them. Ostensibly, this is to protect customers from “bad actors” who disturb the sleep of everyone else, but over the years I have routinely seen window shades locked on daytime flights. That has led to reasonable speculation that some flight attendant lock 787 window shades so as to minimize in-flight services. Passengers are less likely to want to eat and drink when the cabin is dark.
In February 2020, United Airlines sent a memo to flight attendants telling them not to lock the window shades in the “closed” position. I’m pleased to report that my 20+ 787 flights over the last year on United have not featured a single instance of the window shade being locked.
Yes, flight attendants will still make the cabin dark by automatically dimming all the windows. But I have not encountered a situation in which the windows have been locked. Instead, you can un-dim the window that was remotely dimmed.
Now American Airlines has told its flight attendants not to lock windows. In a memo shared by @xJonNYC, AA has explicitly forbidden flight attendants from locking 787 window shades:
Customers sitting in the window seats enjoy watching take off, landing and even spotting landmarks from the sky. The Boeing 787 windows are larger and have unique controls for window shades. Recent feedback about customer experiences on this aircraft is that the windows are being fully dimmed and locked by flight attendants, leaving customers frustrated that they are unable to control the window features from their seat. Do not lock the window features on the Boeing 787. It’s important that each customer at a window can control their own experience.
Interestingly, a comment left on One Mile At A Time from an American Airlines flight attendant defended the practice and suggested it will continue:
On long haul, it’s on us to help regulate the sleep cycle for our passengers so they arrive as well rested as possible. The plane was literally designed to be used that way. When I lock the windows overnight on long haul only, I lock them between 3 & 5 (1 being the brightest, 5 being darkest) so you at least have some control over it. Leave it to the one a**h*le to want his window shade open when 300 other people are trying to sleep.
Do my coworkers overuse this function? Yes. Is it occasionally important to lock the windows? Absolutely.
The flight attendant’s point is not totally unreasonable. Should one passenger be able to “ruin it” for everyone on an overnight flight? I’m of the opinion that while it is courteous to keep your window shade shut (or to refrain from reclining your seat), it is your right to open it, even at night.
I’ve even had nightmares about window shades being locked on the 787…this is an issue I take seriously!
Kudos to American Airlines for telling flight attendants not to lock the dimmers on the 787. Just like with traditional window shades, passengers who choose a window seat should have control over the light coming in.
Hopefully, like on United, this will result in the cessation of “locked” windows, particularly on daytime flights.
(H/T: One Mile At A Time)