Window Shades Down on Day Flights?Staring out the window and watching the world go by is one of the joys of air travel. But some airlines insist that all passengers lower their window shades to create a dark cabin – even in the middle of the day.

There are several reasons that airlines may ask passengers to close their window blinds. But some travellers detest being told to do this as they have specifically chosen a window seat for the view. One of these people is audreym, who recently flew from Adelaide to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. Even though the flight departed at 3pm, the cabin crew and other passengers insisted that they close their window blind for the duration of the flight.

I was almost thrown off a plane for refusing to lower my window shade at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Cathay flight out of Adelaide. I chose a window seat specifically so I can see the scenery. However the staff asked me to close the shade and when I politely refused I was abused by other passengers. Is this the new norm ? feed the passengers then expect them to sleep, when it’s still daylight?

The window shades issue has divided opinion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum. Some members prefer shades down in order to create a dark cabin. Glare from sunlight can make it harder to watch movies on the in-flight entertainment, and it can also make it harder for passengers trying to sleep. Even on day flights, some passengers prefer to sleep as they may be travelling to or from a destination in a very different time zone.

Having your window shade open affects the whole cabin, including glare which makes it difficult to see the IFE screens. It also adds heat to the cabin. And, for pax wanting to have snooze, a bright light can be very disruptive (filling in 9 hours can be boring, a snooze is a good way to pass the time, or, not least, get some rest before a night out).

Keeping the window shades down also helps to keep the temperature inside the aircraft cabin cool.

On overnight flights, the flight attendants will often ask passengers to shut their window shades to prevent light from entering the cabin at sunrise. This is particularly an issue on eastbound flights that are flying towards daybreak. But at least one AFF member doesn’t agree with this practice…

What a load of bollocks. I would definitely refuse. If people want to sleep, that’s what eyeshades are for. Why would you choose a window seat if not to see out??!

I once had an argument with an FA about lowering the shade AT NIGHT. Her reason was that I may fall asleep with it open and the sun might rise and wake everyone up. On a flight that left after dark and was travelling across the Pacific from US to Aus. We took off in the dark and would land in the dark. I assured her that I would never manage to sleep that long and flat out refused. She gave up.

Many AFF members prefer to keep their window shades up as they enjoy watching the scenery below.

I’m definitely for Shades UP! Ever taken a long overland flight? I love seeing the different terrains/landscapes/shades/snow capped mountains/fog in valleys…amazing views and never gets boring! And at night, lights…small town after small town. I have seen so many “curious” things on land, and in the sky (glorious moon light nights). It’s only been occasional, but I get huge kick out of spotting other planes (typically going in the other direction).

Some speculate that cabin crew prefer a dark cabin as it means they’ll have less work to do. While this may be the case for a small handful of flight attendants, it’s not the main reason that this practice is so prevalent.

On some modern aircraft, like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, cabin crew no longer need to argue with passengers who want to leave their window shades up or down. The crew can now override the passengers’ preferences and lock the windows in a setting of their choice. At least with the magic Dreamliner windows, you can still see outside even when the window is in its darkest setting.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Window shades

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]