Should Airline Passengers Be Able To Control Their Own Window Blinds?

When you have a few hundred passengers crammed tightly into a flying tin can, issues of etiquette come to the fore. Examples like passengers who feel the need to fully recline their seat on a short-haul flight. Or others who hit the FA call button four times in ninety minutes because they need more ice, or have too much ice, or their green salad has too much green stuff in it. It’s enough to bring out the inner strangler in me.

Who has control of the window blind? Photo: pxhere.

Window blinds are another area of contention. Who should have control of the window blind?

During takeoff and landing, window blinds are required to be raised (at least in some countries), but once in the air, things can become a little confusing. 

Let me say straight up, I like window blinds open on daylight flights. I like natural light and the light at cruising altitudes is very intense. It is unfiltered and pure. I think that’s why I like it. But my preference sure isn’t universal.

There’s a report in View From The Wing about two passengers having a verbal barney over whether the window blind went up or down. It’s the kind of thing that makes me support a no-fly list for gronks.

I’m a blinds up guy on short-haul daytime flights

About a week ago I was one short flight one afternoon on a low-cost carrier. The sun was out, the sky was bright, and I was sitting by the window reading and drinking something mediocre from a not very classy plastic cup. Won’t name the airline but it started with Jet and finishes with Star. This woman beside me, in her big knock-off Jackie O sunglasses, clearly wanted the window blind down because, you know, one hour of natural light at 15:00 in the afternoon was so unnecessary. I’m like, nup. 

It was a short daytime flight and if Ms Sunglasses wanted control of the window blind she could have ponied up the seven bucks to select her own seat. She could have pushed her window blind down as soon as we hit cruising altitude. In my view, that would be her right because she has the window seat. Instead, she was stuck in the middle seat sighing.

I prefer blinds up during the day, especially on short flights. Photo: Pixabay

But I’m not a total ass about this. If someone asked me politely I probably would close the window blind. If there was an elderly person in some discomfort or a child trying to sleep next to me, of course, I would close the blind. But I’m not inclined to do it on daytime flights if you are a fit and healthy grown-up too cheap to snag yourself a window seat.

Different scenario on long-haul and evening flights

Long-haul flights moving through time zones and night time flights are different. When it’s three in the afternoon outside but everyone’s body clock onboard says is three in the morning, you won’t win many friends by streaming sunlight into the cabin when people are trying to sleep.

On many long-haul flights, airline crew like you to have blind drawn. This is especially the case on long overnight nights flying east. There might only be four or five hours of darkness, and that premature sunrise streaming into the cabin might not be welcome.

It’s not such an issue on north-south flights which largely stick to the one time zone, especially if it is a daytime flight.

Decision can be taken out of your hands

Modern jetliners like Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners have windows that tint themselves and can be electronically blacked out. On some airlines, the crew will often do this, especially in the main cabin. The cynic in me says this is because it encourages passengers to sleep and thus makes less work for the crew. I reckon most crew would say they do it because some passengers want to sleep and they try to make the cabin comfortable for all, saying all passengers have access to individual lighting.

Long haul flying is a different beast to short-haul flying. While I’m relatively intolerant of people on short-haul flight who carry on like they are off to LAX, stretching out, reclining, and closing the blinds for that twenty-minute daytime siesta before descent and everything needs to go back into landing position, I am tolerant of the need for people to sleep on long-haul flights moving through different time zones.

What’s your opinion on who controls the window blind? Post a comment and let us know.