American Airlines Asks Crew To Stop Locking Dreamliner Windows

Absent of a hard, plastic, physical window shade, the windows of a Boeing 787 are dimmed electronically via buttons. At the same time, however, they can be controlled by cabin crew and locked from passenger control. It’s that outside control that has apparently caused some frustration among American Airlines passengers, prompting the airline to instruct its crews to stop locking the windows.

American Airlines Asks Crew To Stop Locking Dreamliner Windows
American Airlines has nearly 50 787s in its fleet with a mix of both -8 and -9 variants. The airline also has more undelivered Dreamliners on the way. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Controlling the customer experience

Love them or hate them, the windows of a Boeing 787 are unlike the windows of any other commercial aircraft flying. These high-tech electronic windows allow passengers to control how much light is let in. However, it allows airline crews to do the same with the entire aircraft. This functionality has its pros and cons, but a leaked memo posted to Twitter, and shared by several aviation and travel sites such as One Mile At A Time, shows that American Airlines is asking its crews to take a more ‘hands-off’ approach when it comes to this control:

“Customers sitting in the window seats enjoy watching take off, landing and even spotting landmarks from the sky. The Boeing 787 windows are larger and have unique controls for window shades. Recent feedback about customer experiences on this aircraft is that the windows are being fully dimmed and locked by flight attendants, leaving customers frustrated that they are unable to control the window features from their seat. Do not lock the window features on the Boeing 787. It’s important that each customer at a window can control their own experience.”

American Airlines Asks Crew To Stop Locking Dreamliner Windows
A clear view of the 787’s window in the American Airlines economy cabin. Photo: American Airlines

A smart move by American Airlines?

For the passengers seated at the window, this would undoubtedly be a welcome move. After all, who doesn’t want more control over aspects of the inflight experience? This may be particularly handy for those of us travelers who enjoy snapping photos of the world outside, such as a stunning sunrise/sunset or an epic view of a city below. This would obviously be problematic if the windows were dimmed and locked.

American Airlines Asks Crew To Stop Locking Dreamliner Windows
A look at the Dreamliner’s windows in American’s business class. Photo: American Airlines

Of course, on the other hand, there’s some concern for passengers not seated at the window.

One of the main reasons flight crews dim and lock windows is to allow passengers to get some sleep on those long-haul flights. And when it comes to certain routes, a passenger’s internal clock might be telling them it’s time to sleep, while the view outside is a bright blue sky. This desire to sleep might be in direct opposition to a window-seat passenger who would prefer to get a nice view outside.

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Another scenario might see passengers settling in to watch some inflight entertainment. A fellow passenger’s ‘open’ window and the glare it causes might make this impossible.

It will be interesting to see how this works out for the airline and if it might lead to more conflicts between passengers who have opposing desires for the window brightness in the cabin.

Do you like the 787’s electronic windows? And are you in favor of American Airlines’ message to its crews? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Simple Flying reached out to American Airlines regarding the memo. At the time of publication, no response was received from the carrier.