Why must airplane window shades be kept open for take-off and landing?

On every flight I’ve taken recently, the pre-flight checklist (that whole long spiel with the pre-recorded video of a toothsome actress playing flight attendent and showing just how the seatbelt works as real flight attendedants pantomime it in the aisles) has included the following mysterious instruction:

“All window shades must be up for take-off and landing.”

Why? It doesn’t affect the safety of the plane, does it? The pilots have their own windows. Why can’t I close mine? What if I don’t like watching?

Any pilots or airline employees out there who can answer this question? Much appreciated.

ive never encountered that before.

Only instruction I get is ‘tray tables must be in an upright position’

Perhaps one of the ‘big steel’ pilots can answer this better than myself.

The pilot can’t see as much behind the aircraft as much as the passengers/flight attendants can. If there’s a problem that the pilots don’t notice, that the passengers/FAs can, they can call up the flight deck and inform them.

At night it could be because the row of cabin lights would make the plane so much more visible.

But having just flown SYD-LAX-SLC-SFO-LAX-SYD, I did not get this instruction once.

Yep, I used to hear this, but I flew from here(Memphis) to Honolulu without being asked to keep my window shade up. Good thing too. On the way back, we took off from Dallas at dawn, it really would have been obnoxious.

I get this on every international flight. United, NW, Air China, China Eastern, Shanghai Air, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, etc. Never understood why, and the air crew are pretty adament about compliance.

I always thought it was for courtesy towards passengers who didn’t have window seats but would still like to look out of the plane during take-off and landing :slight_smile:

St_Ides has a good point though.

I don’t recall this for take off and landing, but on long-haul flights they ask you to pull the blinds down when everyone is trying to sleep - so other pax don’t get woken up at 3am their time when it’s 10am local time. Conversely, they like to light up the cabin when serving breakfast before landing (say on a Europe-Asia flight) - presumably to acclimatise everyone to the 8-hours foreward timezone.

What they do insist on is dimming the cabin lights for take off/landing at night. Why???

Open window blinds: in case of emergency, for maximum lighting inside plane. Most problems occur on take off and landing, and a number happen while still on the ground.

Not all airlines bother with this request.

A few suggestions:
At night with the blinds up, if there was an incident with a possible evacuation the aircrew could more easily assess the best route out of the aircraft. Lots of pairs of eyes are also better to identify any possible problems
They also darken the interior to acclimatise your night vision so that any passenger would be more able to see outside if it was dark and needed to escape.
If the worst came to the worst, after an accident a member of the rescue services can see inside to plan a rescue.( It helps not to chop someone’s arm off during a rescue.)
Dimming the cabin lights will also help to highlight the emergency lights which have a dedicated electrical supply and thus will be more likely to stay illuminated in an emergency.
In a smoke filled cabin the cabin lights will be diffused and similar to that of car headlights in a fog- you won’t be able to see anything, so they are dimmed leaving those emergency lights to point to the escape exits.

It’s like Phlster said, in case of an emergency during take off or landing. Makes more sense during the day when you get sunlight shining into the plane then it does at night.

Also note that you are supposed to look out the window prior to opening the emergency doors to verify that the plane isn’t on fire in that location. I have been asked about this while sitting in the exit rows the past couple of years. The FA’s want to know if you have read the little card and understand your roll in an evacuation.

I always assumed it was so passengers could keep an eye out for those evil gremlins on the plane’s wings. However, I think Philster nailed it on this one. :wink:

Previous thread on the subject here, with an answer from a real-life-honest-to-goodness pilot. A pilot141 at that!