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closed windows during flights?

i was looking through an old topid and noticed that some people said they were asked or required to keep windows down during flights to europe. I was wondering if anyine has had experience with this. we will be flying on American Airlines to dublin (from chicago,evening to dublin, morning) I understand that this is for people to rest but does that mean that the windows are shut all the time. this is my first plane ride aside from 45 mins to vegas and i was REALLY looking forward to looking out the window.... is it considered rude to at least take a peek every once in a while? thanks

Posted by
100 posts

Christy, I have never put my window down (unless I was sleeping for when the sun come up). I too love to look out the window, although with an overnight flight, you will not see much until you get ready to land. You should be fine, leave it up if you want, I doubt you'll cause too much of a problem. Also, on the trip back, I would suggest having the window down because the sunlight can be a bit much.

Posted by
805 posts

They ask you to close it for movies mostly because of the glare. Honestly, when traveling transatlantic there is nothing much to look at. All you'll see is either a barren landscape (if over land and no clouds), some vaguely distant water way below or a cloud layer (most likely over ocean). Windows are really only great on takeoff and landing in my opinion.

Although there can be something almost hauntingly beautiful about flying over northern Canada (which is the route you will take during the start of your flight) and seeing the occasional light in the dark below.

Posted by
2779 posts

Christy, most airlines ask you to keep the blind down on the southern side of the plane as the sun really lights up the entire cabin. on the northern side that's not really a problem PLUS you can't really look out of the window on the southern side as the sun would simply blind you whereas on the northern side you'll be able to enjoy the full panorama - which pretty much is ocean only, so pretty boring... Anyway, make sure you get a window seat on the left hand side (usually an A-seat) for your outbound and a right-hand side window seat on your return flight.

Posted by
7205 posts

I've only experienced flight attendants raising the shades on windows during takeoff and landing. Otherwise I've never seen/experienced any requirements for opening or closing the shades during transatlantic flights. I've traveled at least one transatlantic flight each year for the last 10 years.

Last week, returning from Zurich there was group of senior citizens sitting in front of us and one of the older ladies made a HUGE stink because the guy in front of her closed his shade...that was a first for me. He was NOT part of their group. Finally the flight attendant asked him if he would like to move to a different seat because of the rantings of the older lady sitting behind him.

Posted by
21346 posts

Our experience was is that we were frequently asked to pull the shade down when the movies were displayed on pull down screens. Now that the video screens in in the seat back, it is less common. But the other side that it doesn't make much difference. There is almost nothing to see out of the window especially on the east bound leg.

Posted by
808 posts


By all means, sneak a peek! I'd personally go mad if I didn't! There are so many interesting things to look at below especially all the pretty lights at night!

Flying is spectacular! Not sneaking a peek from time to time would be like flying with a blindfold on! (Yes, I absolutely adore flying and never complain about the view from my "Office"!)

In answer to your question: We ask that the shades be lowered to create a comfortable environment more condusive for resting and watching the movie without the glare from the sun. There's really not much more to it than that.
For safety reasons, the shades must be raised during critical phase of flight ie: take-off and landing.

So go ahead, sneak a'll be glad you did!

Have a great Flight :-)

Safe Skies...


Posted by
852 posts

Hi Christy,
... how would someone know if the engines were still running if unable to see them? By all means, keep those things going - look frequently!... Happy travels, P

Posted by
5579 posts

I agree that there's usually not much to see on the way to Europe until arrival. But that last 45 minutes or so is great so lift that shade. It depends on the route, but on my way home at least twice we've gone over the tip of Greenland and have seen ice bergs floating which was fascinating. That was a Glasgow to Chicago flight. It was really amazing how much more of that flight is over Canada as someone else has already mentioned.


Posted by
3313 posts

On transatlantic British Airways flights last year, the flight attendants were insistent that the window shades be closed for the trip. This was very frustrating to me because I book window seats to look down at the forests of Canada and the glacial terrain of Greenland. When you fly from the West Coast, there's actually more land than ocean to see. I had to sneak peeks to look down because the flight attendants were quite aggressive about asking to keep the windows shut and, when all the windows are closed, one open one is quite obvious.

Posted by
445 posts

Just one of the reasons I hate BA. There is no reason why you can't lookunles the sun is blazin in inwhich case you can't see anything anyway.

I fly into NY and it is amazing how little time of the return flight is over water...I love watching the far northern stretches of land..and then coming down the coast of New England which is fairly recognizable due the many inlets and harbors on the Maine coast and of course Capr Cod which is like an arm in the sea. Once in a while they will fly a more inland route over Canada and come down the Hudson River valley to NY, but most of the time it is the coastal route.

Flying over, of course it is nighttime so there is nothing to see until yu hit the coast of Ireland which is also always exciting. But I also love to watch the sun come up. Keep the shades UP!!!

Oc course, Virgin also has route maps on their individual seat screens, so you can watch your progress. I am always in awe of the outside temps!!!

Posted by
445 posts

sorry about the of these days I shall learn to temper my enthusiasm with proofreading!!

Posted by
58 posts

Thank you everyone!
Andreas, I checked our seats (i booked them a while ago and the plane is now pretty full) and they are on the sides that you suggested! that makes me soo excited!. Thanks everyone for the advice, of course i will be courteous of the other passengers but with all the great views you described, im sure i wont be the only one with my shade up! Even if there is not anything to see, i am going to want to look out the window... unless it is too bright! I think after all of the planning, money, and sacrifice to make this trip, when i finally get to see ireland for the first tme it will be a very special moment!
Thanks again!!!

Posted by
10280 posts

I got this from Salon (written by a pilot):

"Why do I have to open my window shade for landing? And why are the cabin lights dimmed?

You are asked to raise your shade so you can see through the window. Not for the view, but to help you remain oriented (which way is up, etc.) if there's an accident. Further, it lets you see what hazards exist outside (fires, debris and such), which would be important during an evacuation. Additionally it lets light into the cabin and makes it easier for rescuers to see inside.

Dimming the lights helps your eyes adjust to darkness, so if anything happens and it goes dark, you're not suddenly blind while dashing for the exits. Also it makes the emergency path/exit lights more visible. These might be the only lights you see in an emergency. And as with the shades, it allows you to see outside for orientation. With the cabin lights burning brightly, the glare would make this impossible. " (End of Salon quote.)

Now as to why the window shades are kept down....well, on most flights, a meal is served right away, afterwards the flight attendants, on some airlines, will insist that passengers shut the window shades. What you don't know is that they are also slightly raising the temperature of the cabin. With food in your belly, no sunlight, and warmer suuroundings, you're more inclined to nap or do something quiet. And then you're less likely to bother the cabin crew.

Thankfully, few airlines do this. Most want their passengers to be happy and do as they wish as long as they don't bother other passengers or interfere with the safety of the aircraft.

Posted by
808 posts

I've been asked why Flight Crew require the window shades to be open during "critical phase of flight" meaning takeoff and landing...
There are several reasons, all of which are geared to safety.

It's actually a regulation that we must enforce for safety reasons. In an Emergency, it is important to be able to access the outside conditions. Seeing only the inside of the a/c in an emergency/evacuation will put you at an unsafe disadvantage. There have been many reported cases where seeing the outside of the a/c has alerted the Pax and Crew to dangers such as smoke, fires or blocked exits etc. Sometimes Pax can see from their POV what we cannot see from our POV. (That's just one example...)

I'm not really sure why Doug experienced the Crew being "aggressive" about keeping the shades closed during the entire flight. I 've asked a BA Crewmember why and I didn't get a straight answer. I have not yet had to enforce such action.

My only guess is that it may have been due to safety somehow on that particular flight? Had I been there and experienced this, I would have asked why at the time.

Posted by
365 posts

I am willing to believe "more inclined to do something quiet" because this would appear to benefit all passengers. I'm less willing to believe "less likely to bother the cabin crew"... this may be the outcome, but even a cynical person such as myself considers this a bit of a stretch. Something for those seated near the windows to consider is that those in the middle of the airplane don't have the benefit of a view, lousy as it usually is, to attract peeks out the window. All those people get is a harsh spotlight on them while they're trying to get a few fitful moments of sleep. In my experience, the flight crew can ask a window-opening passenger to shut the window, but it's a voluntary act. I have seen passengers on BA and Qantas flights refuse to shut the window and the crew's report to the complaining parties is, "We tried our best, but we can't force them." This seems contrary to other posters on this topic, but there you have it. I would suggest that those unwilling to incur the wrath of fellow passengers and flight crew who wish to see outside take advantage of the usually open windows at the rear of the plane where the insomniacs and those dying for a smoke hang out.

Posted by
2788 posts

I am so glad that so many folks want to keep their windows up so they can look out at the clouds and water on trans-atlantic flights. I personally, keep mine down so the folks that want to watch a movie on the planes I fly in which do not have seatback screens do not get a glare that messes up the screen, or those folks who want to sleep (me sometimes) can do so with more darkness being being better for sleep.. I guess it all depends on ones approach: I, me, my, or all of us;.
Happy travels.

Posted by
4555 posts earlier posters have said, there is actually something to see on many flights besides clouds and water.....maybe not from Hawaii, but not all of us live there. As for darkness during sleep, I thought that's why they invented sleeping masks. I know I use one. And I rarely run into anyone who will leave their window open when the movie's showing. While I, too, usually keep my window closed during daylight flights, I understand those may want to see what's below....I certainly don't accuse them of being selfish!

Posted by
808 posts

Interesting theory about why the lights are dimmed after meal service is complete. I can't honestly say that this is when Pax are less likely to "bother the Flight Crew". Ironicly, this is the time when Pax are most apt to request something b/c to them it looks like we are least busy and most available.

My Pax seldom "bother" me. The only time they really "bother" me is when myself or my Crew take turns at our designated "Crew Rest Seats" and try to eat something during our break. It can be annoying to have to answer a question with your mouth full...especially when a Pax thinks you should jump up and get them that extra pillow right away...

We do need to eat to stay healthy and strong. An occaisional break is well deserved as well. Some people forget that. That is my only real complaint. But other than that, my Passengers are no bother at all...I actually enjoy them.

Posted by
2023 posts

I also enjoy the view from the window when it is possible to still see land. If I have an aisle seat I usually walk to the back near the galley before the final descent when the land is in view. There is a fair sized window on the larger aircrafts--777, for example. No FA has objected to this and I return to my seat and and buckle up as soon as directed.

Posted by
990 posts

If you are lucky enough to be flying back from Europe via a northly route (like Seattle-LHR) the views over Greenland are sensational, provided the weather cooperates. I usually don't worry much about looking out the window, but when I'm flying that direction during daylight, I make an exception and try to book a window seat.

Posted by
11798 posts

Port Out, Starboard Home abbreviated POSH. It was once considered the desirable cabin location on transatlantic ships, then became a word on its own. It may have been a British expression to take advantage of the sun in the chilly Northern Atlantic but works well for air conditioned planes to Europe from America to keep the sun out of your eyes.

My personal preference is sleep out, sleep home - but I doubt SOSH will ever be listed in Webster's.

Posted by
4555 posts

Brad has correctly explained the origin of the word POSH, to describe the best ship accommodations out of Britain. But it usually referred to ships out to India, where being on the port (left) side on the way out, and the starboard (right) side on the way home kept your cabin out of the harsh direct sunlight in equatorial waters....that was the best accommodations on the ship.

Posted by
81 posts

I just flew on American from DFW to Paris and Paris to JFK.

I'm the person who likes to keep their window open the whole time - light or dark. I like looking outside and I like the natural light.

I did get asked from a flight attendent on my way to Paris to close my shade and I told her I liked it up, but I would close it halfway for the other passengers. I didn't get asked again. And when we started getting close to Europe to actually be able to see land, I opened it back up. My personal opinion is that it's up to you. Not everyone is going to agree with me though.

Posted by
57 posts

We just flew back from Amsterdam yesterday. I can see the point of having the shades down. I took a walk between the movies and noticed that the forward part of the plane had a much better picture on the screen. That's because they all had their shades down. The people at the back of the plane had many of the shades up and the screen was mostly washed out.

I had a window seat at the back of the plane and tried to look out - only to see the tops of clouds. There was no reason to have the shades up. If you needed light to read, etc, then use your light. It doesn't bother the other passengers and most wanted to see the movie anyway.