How Would You End The Airplane Window Shade Debate Once and For All?
“I typically enjoy a window seat. It offers an opportunity to look at the marvels of both mankind — with the cities built and the ribbons of highways on which tiny metal cars traverse — and the wonders of nature, from majestic mountains to billowy clouds in all sorts of different formations. To see a sunset or a sunrise from the air is an especially magical treat to enjoy and embrace.”
The same thoughts were true on my very first flight from New York to San Juan on American Airlines when I was barely a teenager; they were true when I first wrote that statement here at The Gate back on October 4, 2011; and those thoughts still hold true today.
I truly enjoy the transformation of our wonderful planet evolve before my eyes — aided by the combination of the rotation of the Earth with the jet propulsion of the metal tube in which I am seated. I have always enjoyed guessing where I am without the aid of a map tracking the flight — and I am usually correct…
…unless I am over some vast expanse of water — then all bets are off on that one. The cloud formations then take over my attention — if there are any clouds present in the sky, of course. I am awed by just how deep blue the color of the sky can be; and at night, I enjoy watching the stars seemingly so close that you can just reach up and grab one. Thunderstorms below give the impression of flashes from the cameras of a thousand photographers under a veil of puffy cumulonimbus clouds. Complemented by the music to which I enjoy listening while in flight, I am truly mesmerized and entertained. The window on an airplane during a flight is my favorite mode of in-flight entertainment.
When a flight attendant directs the passengers to close their window shades so that they may sleep or watch a movie, I will usually lower my window shade to a point where the opening is just large enough for me to continue with my interpretation of in-flight entertainment but without disturbing fellow passengers. I rarely watch movies while in flight — or at any time, I admit, as I would rather act in them. I even have a profile posted at the Internet Movie Database with a partial list of no-name movies in which I am proud to have acted — and I intend to expand that list with future projects…
….but once again, I digress.
To “shed some light”, I asked back on June 6, 2007: “does a window of opportunity exist for a passenger seated elsewhere on an aircraft to dictate whether or not a window shade should be up or down, or does the passenger seated next to the window see right through that request?”
In other words: who has the final say over whether a window shade should be opened or closed? This controversial topic has gone on for years on FlyerTalk and has been contentious enough at times to cause discussions to be closed to further input —such as when FlyerTalk member GordonGordon asked in April of 2009 “Why can’t you keep the window shade shut when everyone is sleeping/watching movie?”; or when FlyerTalk member librarygal inquired in a recent discussion launched earlier this month: “Is it rude to open your window shade on an international flight?”
These discussions pertain to window shades equipped with the aircraft which are working properly — but one thing on which those on both sides of this debate might agree is that it is annoying when a window shade is not working properly; is stuck; or is out of commission.
For example — as illustrated in this discussion launched earlier this year, at least two people decided to use advertising placards aboard the aircraft as a makeshift window shade; while in that same discussion, at least two other people created window shades out of the emergency cards located in the seat pocket in front of you.
Technology does not seem to help matters much either. Windows which can be dimmed electronically on Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft were apparently not dark enough for long-haul flights two years ago, according to a spokesperson of All Nippon Airways.
FlyerTalk members do seem to like the “automated window shades” equipped on some aircraft operated by Emirates Airline — but that still does not resolve or mitigate the debate.
I suppose one answer could be that those passengers who want the window shades lowered could carry sleep masks or eye shades if they want to sleep — but that still does not resolve the issue if they want to watch entertainment during flights.
Another answer could be to charter a private airplane — such as these from Delta Air Lines, where you will instantly earn Diamond Medallion elite level status — but the rates could bankrupt you.
Would you travel in an aircraft without windows altogether if it meant bringing back supersonic travel — at least for business jet airplanes? Windows increase “drag” on the aircraft and add to its cost.
I personally think it would be a drag to fly in an aircraft without windows. I was fortunate to have flown as a passenger on Concorde operated by Air France; and I enjoyed seeing the curvature of the Earth outside of the window — which was heated due to the friction caused by flying at almost twice the speed of sound — from an altitude of 60,000 feet above sea level.
Not a problem: cameras would capture the views live outside of the aircraft and project them onto screens inside of the aircraft — and passengers can turn down the screens or change the images.
Would that not simply ignite this debate all over again? Besides — as cool as that may sound — I want to see the real thing live outside of a real window. I cannot imagine that the view would have that same feeling…
…but if the technology did not work, you would not be able to stuff superfluous advertising collateral into the “window.”
Okay — now it is time for you to get creative. How would you solve the window shade controversy once and for all? Please feel free to conjure ideas which seem impossible — even if it means sticking a unicorn horn into the window shade to keep it propped up…
…although you might have to purchase a seat for your unicorn to do that and wrestle it for the armrest both of you share — but that is a different debate altogether…