There are a few topics which seem to spark huge debates over whether something on a plane is a right or a privilege. I think seat recline is one of them, as we saw with the huge debate which was started over the “Knee Defender.” My personal opinion is that reclining your seat is a right, though if you’re a decent human being you should be courteous and still make sure it’s okay with the person behind you (even if that just comes in the form of turning around and making eye contact).
Reader James sent me the following email, which raises another interesting airplane “right vs. privilege” question:
Just curious what you make of this thread and your in flight experience with FAs making you close the window blind all the time, maybe during night flights or daytime flights.
In case you don’t want to read the actual thread, it’s about crews being “militant” about requesting that passengers close window shows inflight, in this particular case on a redeye.
It goes without saying that there’s no “absolute” right answer here. Use of windows isn’t covered in the contract of carriage or fare rules, and there are no FAA regulations when it comes to this.
So where do I stand? I think flight attendants have the following “power” over window shades:
- On many airlines, flight attendants have the right to request that your window shades be open during takeoff and landing as a safety precaution (which I think is smart — it amazes me that US airlines don’t have similar regulations)
- Flight attendants can ask that you keep window shades closed during a redeye or longer flight to keep the cabin dark, but it’s simply that — a request; the reason for this request could be to allow others to maximize rest, which perhaps in part may be motivated by the crew having to do less work (more people asleep equals less service)
Where do I stand on the “right vs. privilege” of airplane window shades?
- The person in the window seat has full control over the window shade, and can do whatever they please; after all, the window shade controls are at their seat
- At the same time, the person in the window seat should be a decent human being and try to be considerate of seatmates; if it’s an overnight flight where the sun is going to rise, keeping the window shade open for hours on end isn’t very considerate
Note that all of the above doesn’t apply on the 787, which doesn’t have window shades. While passengers have “buttons” to control the window settings, the crews can override those controls and set the “dimming” to whichever setting they’d like.
As far as my personal “agenda” goes, I actually find I have slightly the opposite problem. It sort of drives me crazy on longhaul flights when the crews decide to take it upon themselves to open all the window shades way before absolutely necessary, to wake up all passengers and prepare the cabin for landing early. If they have to open all the shades before landing, I wish they’d do it a bit later.
I think it’s reasonable for crews to kindly ask that you close your window shades in order to make the cabin ambiance more pleasant for the majority of passengers. But I also think it’s reasonable to choose to keep it open, assuming it’s not inconveniencing the people around you.
Where do you stand on window shades? Is their “position” (not to be confused with yesterday’s Virgin America Tweet) up to the crew, the person in the window, or some other combination?