Daily Jambo

Mystery solved : open the window shades when taking off and landing.

Published: 31.08.2014
Reading time: 9 minutes


OK, I don’t know about you but whenever I jump on a plane I become like a robot, and do whatever the flight attendants tell me to do.

Seatbelt? Check. Seat back and tray table in the upright positions? Check.
But what’s with the window shades up command? I’ve never really understood why they do this.

This week’s announcement by Qantas and Virgin that we are finally allowed to leave our phones on during these crucial points of the trip (yippee!) made me even more curious about the great window shade scenario.


After numerous in-flight conversations with flight attendants and consulting the credible team at Q & A site travel.stackexchange.com, I discovered there are a lot of really good reasons why this is done. Here are some of the top ones:

• Passengers are curious, hence they are perfect “extra eyes” to see if something goes wrong out there, like with one of the engines. Usually passengers report any untoward stuff right away.

• In case of sudden emergencies, every second counts when it comes to being organised. If shades are open the crew can see the outside conditions, and this will help them in planning an evacuation, such as determining which doors to use (as, for example, one side may be on fire).

 • During the daytime, opening window shades and putting cabin lights to full makes the eyes more used to the light. This means that if something goes wrong and people need to be evacuated quickly there will not be a sudden change in light contrast, which might lead to temporary blurred vision.


• It’s the same thing on night flights: window shades are open and cabin lights are dimmed as it helps ground emergency personnel outside to see what’s happening on the inside of the cabin if something goes wrong.

 • The cabin crew have only 90 seconds to evacuate all passengers so to make the evacuation possible in that short amount of time, cabin crew and other airlines staff will prepare every flight in advance to make this possible.

• Passengers are asked to open them before take off and landing as these are considered to be critical times in aviation when most accidents happen.

Obviously rules may vary from airline to airline but hey, a quick shade shut sure beats wrestling a snake!


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