closing airplane window shades

Why do airlines make such a big deal about opening all the shades on airplane windows before landing? I was on a flight two days ago, and the flight attendants were going nuts about making sure every last shade was open. It was even part of the announcements. What’s the difference to the pilots if the window shades are open or closed?


It makes no difference at all to the pilots, in terms of the operation of the aircraft. It’s so that passengers can maintain awareness of what’s going on around the plane, and so that their eyes are adjusted somewhat to the ambient light level outside. Should a swift exit from the plane be required, this is presumed to be a good thing.

Asked and answered.

Situational awareness. If the plane has landing issues, you want as much light and outside visibility to help you figure out which way to evacuate in an orderly fashion/run screaming.

Plus, you’ll need to look out the window to know when to set off your crotch explosive since the airplane tracking seat display is disabled.

I don’t fly much, and haven’t since 2006. Is this a new thing? I never noticed it; OTOH I can’t remember ever seeing a window shade down during either take-off or landing. Those segments of the flight tend to be when at least some of the passengers like to look out.

I had always assumed it was to make the plane more visible to others by having the row of lit windows on both sides, so other planes around the destination airport would see it more readily.

I would think that if you’re so close as to benefit from the visibility that open portholes offer, you’re really, really far up shit creek. (I mean keep in mind you have to distinguish the airplane internal lighting from ambient city lighting)

Na, it’s done during the daytime too. It seems primarily for visibility in case of an evacuation on the ground.

It also allows passengers to be on the lookout for gremlins on the wings.

One request that I consistently ignore is when they ask everybody to CLOSE the shades when the in-flight movie is about to start. “It will help to make the TV monitors more visible,” they say. Usually, the view out the window is much more interesting than whatever crap they’re showing on the monitors.

Best line of the entire series of 3rd Rock From The Sun: “Me, too!”