United Tells Cabin Crew To Stop Controlling 787 Windows Centrally

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United Airlines has sent a notice to its flight attendants regarding the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft windows. The staff have been reminded to not centrally lock the electronically dimmable windows (EDWs). The Chicago-based carrier wants its passengers to be able to allow as much light in as they want.

United Airlines 787
United wants its passengers to have more freedom when it comes to brightness levels on the airline’s Boeing 787 aircraft. Photo: United Airlines

Unique offering

One of the several standout features on the Dreamliner is its transition windows. The level of shade can be adjusted electronically to suit the preference of those sitting next to them.

This feature differs from standard plane windows that usually have shades that can be pulled down to block light glaring in. Rather than having all light or no light, window seat passengers can transition the dimness to a sweet spot that they want with EDWs.

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Additionally, Gizmodo reports that the windows have a height of 19 inches and are around 65 percent larger than their counterparts. This allows for spectacular views to be seen while daydreaming on a flight.

ANA 787 Window
Two different settings of brightness on the windows of a Dreamliner. Photo: Spaceaero2 via Wikimedia Commons

Window of opportunity

On several aircraft, crew often ask passengers to keep their window shades down or have them up at different times of the flight. However, on 787s, flight attendants don’t have to manually adjust every shade as they can just lock them to one setting centrally. With this in mind, United has asked its employees to not be so strict with the settings.

According to Live And Lets Fly, United sent the below reminder to its flight attendants:

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“Remember, on B787s, please don’t use the flight attendant panel to force window shades to darken or lock them at a set level. This prevents customers from adjusting their window shades as they prefer.”

Different points of view

Some passengers would prefer the settings to be locked to a dim level to ensure that blinding light doesn’t make its way in. However, other travelers would prefer to have the option to be able to see outside.

United Airlines 787 Plane
Passengers have different preferences when it comes to shade. Photo: United Airlines

Aircraft windows have been purposely designed to be at eye level and help offer a feeling of openness to reduce sensitive situations such as anxiety while on a plane. Therefore, these fliers will welcome United’s stance.

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The use of these windows has been largely well-received. One of the companies that helped implement this technology is Gentex. The firm has also been consulted to introduce EDWs on Boeing’s upcoming 777X. Therefore, it looks like this design could become a standard for more aircraft by the time this decade is over.

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on the notice. A spokesperson replied by informing that the airline often provides helpful tips to its flight attendants and that this notice was simply a reminder. 

Are you a fan of the Boeing 787’s electronically dimmable windows? Let us know what you think of the ability to adjust them in the comment section.

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Armie Hammer

I thought the shades are supposed to be completely open during takeoff, landing and taxi in order for the cabin crew to be able to see outside for hazards, fire, etc. in case they have to evacuate the airplane. Many airlines ask the passengers to open the shades during those times and then allow them to do as they wish once the plane is up in the air.

Iris

Respectfully I appreciate the ability to adjust the window shades myself manually. I do sense the notion that United is working towards making the flight experience more
Enjoyable. Thank you.

Lyle

These window shades are amazing! I flew to Europe this year and the ability to have the shade at half way setting and still see outside well is the main reason I will try to choose a 787 next time I fly overseas

Quentin

hello, each window seat pax is sitting next to a window so as to see and admire the view when he she can, please don t collectively block or open the view, and offer others blind shades eye covers if they want to sleep and avoid light, have both worlds live in peace.

William

I imagine wanting to send as many passengers to sleep is desirable from the flight attendants point of view. Obviously centrally diming them at the calculated sleep time is desirable but they shouldn’t be locked except locked open during landing and take off. At certain times bright light can interfere with other passengers.

Robin Brackman

I like every feature of the 787.
Awesome aircraft.

Fethi Lakhdari

A commendable step in the right direction but not as vital as fixing MCAS

NPS

On overnight flights even if you use the eye shades a 787 fully brightened window is d**n bright in summer as the first light comes over say at 4AM. On westbound daytime flights fine with this being more user controlled but the immediate no dimming setting is d**n bright and you can still see pretty well out of a 787 window on the FIRST dim set.

Rhus

Every flight on a 787 I have had to ask the FA to release my window so I can see out. On a couple of flights back from Asia the pilot locked the windows and the FA was unable to help. I have written multiple times to United on this issue and am reaching the point where I want to avoid 787’s for overseas flights just because of the window issues. Some of the views of Greenland are spectacular during the summer and while I appreciate that some pax want to sleep, windows and light can be avoided with eye masks – which the goodie bags all have. United – thanks for making the change.

Rodney Woodard

Only been on 1 plane that had this feature and I loved it. I could tint the window and still see out.air line staff keep your hands off our viewing area

Jack Seabourne

I think it is a great idea.

Fiona

I think they should be set by the flight attendants. Nothing worse than trying to sleep or watch a movie when someone at a window seat opens the window fully and floods the whole cabin with bright light. Especially on a night flight. Some people have no concern for everyone else around them. I’ve been on this airplane and the windows are huge, so they let in a lot of light. At least if the flight attendants are in charge, they can moderate the windows if the glare is too bright.

Jim

Flynhawn

Matthew C Edwards

I pick a window seat so I can look outside at the passing landscape.
I am not paying hundreds of dollars to fly through the air blind.
Never let anyone close my window shade.
You want darkness? Here, put this blanket over your head.
I am looking out the d**n window from takeoff to touchdown.

TransWorld

The hoot and annoyance I had last time I flew was a passenger who took a window seat, pulled the shade and went to sleep (missing a speculator Alaska view)

Maybe so they could have a place to rest their weary head on the side? Sheese.

But its also a lesson in that many people really don’t care if they can see outside, you could duplicate a window with a viewer and get rid of them.

Think of all the structure it would save!

And those of us who love to look out but can’t get a window seat could get seat viewers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michael

Thank you United Airlines!!!! This was my biggest issue on transatlantic flights. Otherwise, I really like flying with United Airlines. I usually fly business class and I figure if I am paying $10K to fly to Europe and back, I may as well be able to look out the window when I want to look out the window.

China resort planner

This is a horrible decision..it is similar to allowing passengers to decide if they want to smoke or not. A single passenger can now disrupt the light level for an entire cabin. As one who flys regularly between the US and Asia this can be extremely disruptive when the entire cabin, with exception of a single passenger, wants to sleep or watch movies.

Capt. Tom

I’m a million Miler on United but until recently I hadn’t had the pleasure of flying on a 787. I got a chance in October to fly in BusinessFirst from DEN to IAD and I really liked the dimmable windows. The big advantage being it’s not all or nothing. Nice to be able to see out without being blinded or blinding anyone else.

kyle

I fly a lot but I’m also a bit of a nervous flyer and I purposely book window seats so I can look outside, as it calms me (focusing inside the plane makes every movement feel bigger, and the space I’m enclosed in feel much smaller). If I can’t see outside at all / don’t have the option to, the flight can be a really stressful experience (for this reason, I often try to avoid flying at night, as well, but sometimes just have to deal with it).

I *can* deal with it, and sometimes do, but I much prefer to have a choice. As long as I can reasonably see outside, though, I don’t need full brightness, as I also try to be considerate of other passengers. That’s why I love the B787 — it provides the option for compromise, so everyone can win in a way (I can see, though it’s dimmed, and it can stay relatively dark for other passengers).

R M E

They always lock them down no matter what flight or airline. It’s annoying for night flights, it’s dark, I want to look at the stars. Now I know I can complain.

Ehud Gavron

EDWs rock.
FAs are still trying to have a power struggle with pax since they lost the one with the airlines on pay and benefits.

Please don’t take it out on the pax. Just switch to a job where you can be rude to your customers and set YOUR preferences against what your customers want.

Joe

There are some situations where the FAs should have control and some where they shouldn’t. If its an overnight flight, then obviously there is no reason to control the windows. But during takeoff and landing, the FAs should retain control to keep the windows open for safety reasons.
However, most problems stem from jet lag — sometimes everyone wants to sleep when it’s daytime outside. In that case, the FAs should not fully control the windows.
They should set the windows so that you can still brighten or dim them, but not too much, so you can still make them fully dark, but no more than half bright, for example.
This way, people who want to look out can still look out, and people who want to sleep won’t be disturbed too much. Obviously, you can’t look out too well, and there will be some light coming in, but its the only way to make it fair to everyone.

Todd Bjorklund

I like the dimmable window idea but they seem to get really hot when you dim them in direct sunlight. In fact I couldn’t touch the window for more than a few seconds.

Nurul Amin

Window operation should be in the hand of passengers except during take off and landing.

Curt

Since the windows can be set at intermideate levels of darkness, the flight attendants may select one that allows for both viewing and not disturbing passengers with excess light. Passengers can still have individual control to go to a darker setting if they wish.

Steve

I will never fly United again. There’s always that one person that sits there with their windows open over the ocean while everyone else is trying to sleep on a 12 hour flight and they open their window shade and leave it open and don’t even look out the window.

William A

I never reserve a window seat so I feel like I have no say in the matter. If I wanted that control, I’d book a window seat.

Mathou

I hate the 787 window system it affect the view and colours. A stupid system like this one was used 40 years ago on an excellent plane the Mercure of Dassault a plane the size of A320 .I took several times this plane,one of the best passengers plane but hate the stupid electronic windows.

Norm

People who want darkness on planes (who were not forward-thinking enough to get a window seat) can always wear sunglasses or eye shades. But a person who wishes to look outside (I’m claustrophobic, for example) can do virtually nothing if the flight attendants lock the windows on dark. But I am always respectful, and close or open my shades when the FA tells us to, or if the person next to me asks.
It is kind of like the temperature inside a plane (or building for that matter): If some think it is too cold, they can always add a layer of clothing; but hot people can only take so much off…

Robert Bart

I choose a window seat because I love the view. I cannot stand someone who takes the window seat and closes the blind. First of all, most fliers need a point of reference so they dont become spatially disoriented, second, if you dont want to be at a window, gove it up to someone who does. If out of 6 passengers in a typical 6 passenger row 3 gst to choose having the window closed without considering the other passengers is narcissistic. United was right in telling their crew to knock it off.

Ron

Dimmable windows s**k – they never get dark.

Patrice Wilson

This former flight attendant fully supports the cabin crew in having the last word.
Not only SHOULD someone have the last word for a variety of customer issues, this is a safety issue!
Do better, United!

#United

Harold

When flying from the US to Asia, it’s awesome they can lock the windows dimmed. It’s annoying AF when people open the bright window at basically midnight.

D kumar

I love the window with this feature and like my own setting. This should be a general rule to allow passengers to tint it to there preference. I normally keep it dark in bright day and direct sunlight while clear at moon lit nights

Ret

I think it sounds wonderful. It would be great if the windows line up with the passenger seats.

Nicolaï Cauchy

Positively love both the EDW and their large size, reduces my claustrophobia. I’ve been flying Norwegians’s 787 regularly the last three years in economy and i’ve never enjoyed flying so much.

John

Thats bewlsheet. I dont wanna be woken up by some jack a*s wjo opens rhe windownat 5am and sits backwithout the sun blinding me in a middle sear. Stupid

Joel

I helped develop in flight test to Windows so I’m a big fan of them

Bobby g

I hate people qho blind all.of us teying to get a bit of rare and hard sleep on long hauls. Idiotic pc move. Stupid. I wont fly united

Bobby g

I hate people who blind all.of us trying to get a bit of rare and hard sleep on long hauls. Idiotic pc move. Stupid. I wont fly united

Phil McArdle

I’m a fan, both because of the great user experience, and because they’re cool! As a passenger on a Norwegian Dreamliner this past December, I went so far as to send photos of the electrochromic windows to a fellow tech nerd and aviation buff.

John

We hate those controllable shades. There will always be flight crews that will lock them centrally. Such a hassle to be able to look out the window without pressure to close shade. One of the beauties of flying is being able to see the world from the air outside the window…..not bury your head in watching movies! For me this is one more good reason to choose flying Airbus aircraft! Not Boeing!

Phil Burbury

EDW’s are a fabulous innovation. I love looking out of plane windows, there’s so much to see. We flew on Guld Airvs brand new 787 and even from 38,000 feet, the views were fantastic and very interesting. Loved them!

Chris

I had the misfortune of flying United economy from Sydney to Houston last week. The inability to control the dimmable windows was infuriating. I wanted to make them dark so I could sleep, and then later when I was still asleep and they had made them dark, they made them full bright regardless of whether you wanted to sleep another half an hour and skip breakfast. I was the only one in my row so it wasn’t as if my choice affected others in my row. I will never fly United again. Rude minimalist service, the inability to even control your own window was just the final straw.

Ogglive

Glad United is finally doing something about this. I do not mind the flight attendants dimming the windows but I do want to lighten them when I want to look outside. They should not lock them dark.

Arthur Kluvo

Am happy cabin crew will stop dimming windows on 787’s. I choose a window seat so I can look outside. With recent flights on 787, crew dimmed all the windows and I wasn’t able to undimmed my window. I was not a happy passenger. I live in Hawaii and now United is using 787’s for those long haul routes.

Candice

I have on several occasions been fortunate to travel on the ‘Dream Liner’particularly, when flights are 11 hrs and longer. Long flights are intolerable but, the Dream Liner is a pleasure. The electronic dimmable windows, are another example that, every detail of this aircraft was taken into consideration. I recently had the pleasure to catch a 5 hr flight from LAX to Toronto, Pearson….only to feel human not cramped in like a sardine!! I look forward to the 777X.

Candice Destefano

I have on several occasions been fortunate to travel on the ‘Dream Liner’ when flights are 11 hrs and longer. Long flights are intolerable but, the Dream Liner is a pleasure. The electronic dimmable windows, are another example that, every detail of this aircraft was taken into consideration. I recently had the pleasure to catch a 5 hr flight from LAX to Toronto, Pearson….only to feel human and not cramped in like a sardine!! I look forward to the 777X.

BKI

I was onboard a 787 flight earlier this year. I purposely chose a window seat so I can see the Himalayas. But, since by the time our flight passed near the mountain range over northern India just after sunrise, I tried pressing the dim level adjustment button but the dimming level didnt reduce. Seemed like it was locked on purpose. Which I later suspected the crew may locked the function to ensure that there would not be sudden bright light coming through into the cabin and intrude many other passengers that were still sleeping.

I was a bit disappointed though that the function was locked. But, I guess the crew also needs to consider other passengers as well.

CuteCool

Hi, have you even actually flown on a 787 before writing this article?? The coolest feature of them is the fact that even on their DARKEST setting, you can STILL see outside, albeit through a tint. This way, pax who wish to look outside still have that choice available to them. The pic you posted contrasting the 2 window settings is very deceptive and does not reflect the reality of what you actually can see from inside the plane. All the foreign carriers who fly 787 dreamliner have the crew dim the windows after meal service so that there is a restful cabin and peoples biological clocks can reset while transiting timezones. You can STILL see outside. People who want to rest can rest, and people who want to see outside still can. Everyone wins. This move is a bulls**t PR stunt on United’s part. I think it’s very dumb.