If you want to control the window shade in your row of seats then you need to pick a window seat.
- The aisle seat gets to lean into the aisle for extra space
- The middle seat comes with a bundle of rights that includes both armrests.
- The window seat comes with control over the window shade… mostly.
One passenger on Southwest Airlines shared their dispute over the window shade. Two passengers traveling as a couple selected the aisle and middle seats together, and leaving the window seat open. The passenger who took the window seat found the window shade closed, and opened it. The couple was “clearly annoyed.”
The window seat passenger, preferring to gaze out the window at the clouds and the world below. The couple “spent the majority of the flight blocking the sun with their hands and making side eye.” Maybe if you’re flying Southwest, boarding early, and choosing your seats and (1) you’re not going to choose the window, but (2) still have a preference for the positioning of the shade, then bring sunglasses?
There are (6) principles of airplane window shades:
- Shades up for takeoff and landing. That’s so everyone’s eyes are well-adjusted to the light, in order to facilitate evacuation in an emergency.
- The person at the window has control of the shade. If you’re in the window seat, you decide the position the shade is in.
- Flight attendant direction trumps. On modern widebodies window shades may be electronic and can be locked into position. A crewmember may decide all shades will be down, for instance, to accommodate passenger sleep. You may think you have control rights because it’s ‘your’ shade (usufructuary rights) but confrontations with cabin crew over this will not end well.
- Avoid blinding light. That’s especially the case on overnight flights and on early mornings. Traveling across time zones means that even though it’s “night” for people on board who may want to sleep, that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining where you are physically.
- Accommodate your neighbors. If someone asks you to put the window shade down (or up) consider accommodating you, especially if they have a strong preference and you do not. Don’t just arbitrarily do the thing they object to, or object to moving the position of the shade for its own sake.
- Close the shades before getting off the plane when it’s especially hot at your destination. That will help keep the aircraft cool for the next group of passengers during boarding.
Don’t let this happen!
I like an open window as much as possible, unless the sun is shining through the window so brightly that it interferes with screens. I don’t like flight attendants who require window shades to be closed on daytime flights from Europe to the U.S. since I never sleep on those flights and I find them less draining when I have light. But there’s not a lot I can do on a Boeing 787 when they control the shades, or when crew come around scolding passengers who open their windows.