My Frustration With Airline Crews Regulating Window Shade Usage

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Hello from Hawaii! I just flew from Los Angeles to Honolulu (I’ll have a post soon about the flight as such), but in this post I wanted to address a broader issuer as it relates to the use of window shades on planes.

I’ve written about window shade etiquette a few times before based on reader questions, including issues like:

Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts on a situation I faced this morning, and I’m curious where you guys stand on this. First off, my general view on window shade usage is as follows:

  • The person in the window seat has the choice of whether the window shade should be opened or closed; of course it makes sense to be courteous if someone seated near you asks nicely if it can be raised or lowered, especially if they’re being “blinded” by the light
  • I respect when flight attendants ask passengers to lower window shades on redeyes where the sun will rise in the morning and people will naturally be asleep, or on flights where a vast majority of people want to sleep (for example, an evening departure from Asia to the US west coast that arrives in the morning where most people want to sleep, in spite of it being light out for much of the flight)

However, this morning I took a 7AM flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. I’m a morning person, and I’m also solar powered. I got a good night of sleep last night as I got up around the same time I do every day. However, I struggle to stay awake in dark environments.

After takeoff the crew announced that they “request that passengers lower their window shades since it’s an early departure and a lot of people want to sleep.” Here’s the thing — I didn’t want to sleep on the flight, and I also would have preferred my window shade open, so that I could have been more comfortable the whole flight. Heck, even when flying over the ocean I enjoy looking out the window. To me a flight leaving at 7AM isn’t a redeye, and also isn’t one where the crew should “request” that the window shades be closed, in my opinion.

Of course I don’t want to be a jerk either. Everyone lowered their window shades, and for the next five plus hours, it was dark in the cabin. I wasn’t going to be the only person to raise their window shade (since everyone complied with the instructions), but I can’t help but generally be frustrated by crews that make this request.

This is totally minor in the grand scheme of things, but I figured it was worth posting about. I’m curious if most of you disagree with me, because there’s a chance I’m in the minority. I am a weirdo, after all.

Do you appreciate when crews ask all passengers to lower window shades, and the cabin stays dark the whole flight? Under what circumstances (on redeyes, on early morning flights, on all flights, etc.)?

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