Window shade etiquette--what should I have done?

 
Old Oct 25, 01, 11:08 am
  #1  
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Window shade etiquette--what should I have done?

Please give me your opinions on window shade etiquette.

I recently flew in F from NRT to ORD. The flight departs early evening in NRT and arrives late afternoon in ORD. I wanted to get back on ORD time and be able to sleep the night of my arrival. My method for this is to think "destination time" as soon as I'm on the plane, or even a day before, and use sunlight during the flight to help reset my body clock. Towards this end, I select window seats on long flights so as to be close to a natural light source, as well as to have enough light to work--the overhead lights have too much glare and do not provide enough light.

After the meal service (now night time over the western Pacific), a senior FA came through F and lowered all the window shades. When she came to my seat, I explained 1) it was morning in ORD 2) I would be working for most of the flight 3) I wanted light when the sun rose for work and to help adjust my body clock. She said that other passengers would be trying to sleep and would not want the cabin to get light in the morning. Then she lowered one of the three window shades adjacent to my seat. I apologized to her, restated my reasons for wanting the shade open, and suggested that passengers disturbed by the light could use the eyeshades that were in their amenity kits. She became upset with me, said that I should apologize to the rest of the cabin and not to her, and stormed off.

This was not a transitory situation or sunlight in someone's eyes or directly on their video screen, where I think that common courtesy clearly says to lower one's shade until the light changes. I was trying to reset my body clock by 12 hours so I could function at work, as well as spare my eyesight for several hours at the end of the flight.

Please share your honest opinions about what I should have done.
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Old Oct 25, 01, 11:28 am
  #2  
 
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As someone who has done research on circadian rhythms for more than 30 years, I can assure you that your analysis about resetting your clock is absolutely correct. The single most important factor in resetting as quickly as possible is exposure to light - especially natural sunlight - based on destination time. The other valuable tool is to take melatonin at the destination's bed time.

As one who has rarely, if ever, flown F class on an international flight (best I've ever done is C class), I probably should not comment about keeping the shade up other than to say that is what I would want to do myself, based on the above information. Maybe someone should invent the opposite of eye shades - light goggles one could wear to simulate natural sunshine.

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Old Oct 25, 01, 11:30 am
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My only experience with such a situation was in Y when I was in the aisle seat next to a window seat on a 777. The window seat occupant had left the shade up but gone to the bathroom. The FA asked me if I wanted to pull the shade down, I said it was not upto me as I was in the aisle seat and he said he felt sure I wanted to pull it down so did and walked off.

Personally I believe window seat occupants "own" the window shade but need to be very careful about balancing personal comfort with that of the community. I like to think I would have asked other people who were awake and sitting in the vicinity if they minded your having it open. However, I have poor social skills so would probably not have done so.

edited for typos

[This message has been edited by Kovich (edited 10-25-2001).]
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Old Oct 25, 01, 11:49 am
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Good question. Honestly (and you said to be honest), I would have lowered the shade. I have never encountered anyone who has kept his shade up (and I have flown 8 international flights so far this year in Business). I personally don't like using those eyeshades while sleeping. But for the total overall atmosphere of the cabin and the fact that there are lights there for that purpose, I would vote on closing the shades. JMHO.
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Old Oct 25, 01, 11:53 am
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I agree with you about the use of light and enjoy glancing out the window as a break from the closed-in feeling of the cabin, but it is almost always an ongoing battle with the FAs. I've tried to compromise by lowering the shade most of the way, but it seems to be all or nothing, even during the day, when, apparently, any light impacts the video watching. Any solutions?
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Old Oct 25, 01, 11:54 am
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I think most passengers would have appreciated you lowering the shades. I believe this is the practice on most flights.

Next time, lower the shades and the reduction on your stress/anxiety level will be greater than the sunlight effect.

Happy travels.
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Old Oct 25, 01, 11:55 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by jmorris:
Please give me your opinions on window shade etiquette.

I recently flew in F from NRT to ORD. The flight departs early evening in NRT and arrives late afternoon in ORD. I wanted to get back on ORD time and be able to sleep the night of my arrival. My method for this is to think "destination time" as soon as I'm on the plane, or even a day before, and use sunlight during the flight to help reset my body clock. Towards this end, I select window seats on long flights so as to be close to a natural light source, as well as to have enough light to work--the overhead lights have too much glare and do not provide enough light.

After the meal service (now night time over the western Pacific), a senior FA came through F and lowered all the window shades. When she came to my seat, I explained 1) it was morning in ORD 2) I would be working for most of the flight 3) I wanted light when the sun rose for work and to help adjust my body clock. She said that other passengers would be trying to sleep and would not want the cabin to get light in the morning. Then she lowered one of the three window shades adjacent to my seat. I apologized to her, restated my reasons for wanting the shade open, and suggested that passengers disturbed by the light could use the eyeshades that were in their amenity kits. She became upset with me, said that I should apologize to the rest of the cabin and not to her, and stormed off.

This was not a transitory situation or sunlight in someone's eyes or directly on their video screen, where I think that common courtesy clearly says to lower one's shade until the light changes. I was trying to reset my body clock by 12 hours so I could function at work, as well as spare my eyesight for several hours at the end of the flight.

Please share your honest opinions about what I should have done.
</font>
You state that you had 3 window shades adjacent to your seat (which is common in F class). So a reasonable compromise IMHO would have been to lower two and keep the one nearest your head open. I do not think anybony would have complained about that...it is for situations like this that they distribute eyeshades in the amenity kit. The lowering of window shades is a REQUEST not an FAA or AA ORDER. But on the other hand, reasonable concern for co-travellers is always warranted.
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Old Oct 25, 01, 12:12 pm
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I think the attitude of the FA was uncalled for. If she had complaints from other pax, she should have said so and negiated a compromise using a quiet tone of voice.

I much appreciate the demeanor and attitude of BA flight attendants who speak so very quietly but can be understood easily.

After all, you paid for your ticket also!

As far as who 'owns' the window, I feel that the person closest to it has the majority opinion--subject to civil compromise.

Civility, where has it gone?
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Old Oct 25, 01, 12:13 pm
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I have to say I really prefer to keep the shades open, also. It just makes no sense to me to turn the entire cabin into a black-out room when the sun is shining brightly outside. Makes me feel a bit claustrophobic, to tell the truth. I will say, though, that I generally keep only one shade open rather than 2 or 3.

As far as the FAs, they do seem to *really* get unhappy about the shade situation. Some people say that FAs in general are a lot happier when we just turn out the lights and sleep through the whole flight, but I'm sure that's not the case!
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Old Oct 25, 01, 12:22 pm
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I have found myself in a similar situation a number of times. I lower at least one of the three shades all the way, and lower the other two to about a 10-inch opening. I find that still leaves me with enough natural light to instruct my body as to the time zone it must readjust to, yet minimizes the inconvenience for the rest of the sleeping cabin.
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Old Oct 25, 01, 1:47 pm
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I'm taking you at your word when you say you want "honest opinions."

My opinion relates primarily to sleeper suite flights, which I don't believe AA operates on NRT-ORD.

I used to shuttle between HKG & NYC in F class at least once every couple of months. The standard protocol on every flight (CX, SQ, BA and QF) was to lower all the window shades in the F cabin to create a tranquil and calming atmosphere.

As to the suggestions about some sort of "compromise," this doesn't really work-- it's kind of like trying to accomodate a single smoker in the cabin- everyone is inconvenienced to accomodate the preferences of a small minority.

The stuff about circadian rhythms may be true, but I'm not sure how applicable it is to the majority of F class passenger who are making short trips and returning within a week-- not taking an extended vacation. The body doesn't have time to adjust-- you just know you'll be out of sorts and that's what makes the rest period on the plane all the more critical.

I only recall one flight in 2 years where a window shade left open. A single passenger was insistent on keeping his window shade up and it really annoyed everyone else in F class (resulting in attempted intervention by the in-flight Purser). I recall the flight as being uniquely unpleasant due to my inability to sleep (like many people I have difficulty sleeping with rubber bands wrapped around my head).

Again, this may only be the norm on planes with sleeper seats. Typically, everyone gets on board, changes into pajamas, and sleeps or lounges most of the way with virtually no conversation or disruption (conversation with the FAs typically takes place in hushed tones in the galley). Those who want to "have a look" (including myself, at times), take a walk back to the galley, J or Y class, where sunlight floods the cabin.

The few times I've flown int'l AA int'l F class have led be to believe their standards are a little different however. Flying F on AA between JFK and GIG, the FA actually grumbled at me when I went into the galley to look outside w/o disturbing other passengers (she told me to go back to my seat-- although it was hard to understand her as she was engrossed in a movie on a personal video player and didn't bother to look up at me or speak in complete sentences). A lot of AA (and other American) FA's don't "do" normal conversing with the pax on long-haul flights.

When the seats aren't conducive to sleeping (i.e. most AA F class configurations), having the shades up doesn't bother me, but you will alienate everyone in the cabin if you do this on many foreign carriers with sleeper suites.

[This message has been edited by HKG_Flyer1 (edited 10-25-2001).]
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Old Oct 25, 01, 1:51 pm
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maybe im a weasel, but i always go passive-aggressive in those situations.

FA: sir, it would be nice if you lowered your window shade.

me: oh good idea! here i go!

[PHHHHTTT!]

FA: thanks!

me: anything to help out!

[FA walks away. minutes pass.]

[PHHHHTT!]


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Old Oct 25, 01, 1:58 pm
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I think that you should be able to do what you want with YOUR window shade unless someone (other than the FA) complain at which point you may be able to compromise.

This also reminds me of the old debate of "who owns the space between you and the person in front of you? Your legs or their resting back?"

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Old Oct 25, 01, 2:44 pm
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I'd actually be in the compromise camp. I typically would close everything except the one right next to my head, which I'd have lowered halfway. Done this on a ton of flights where I'm trying to adjust to timezones. Flight attendants don't seem to have too much of a problem with that historically.
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Old Oct 25, 01, 2:50 pm
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What about a passenger who is claustrophobic? Are they just supposed to suffer?

The one (and so far only) time I was in Int'l first, I was on a flight from ORD to NRT and had the window shade open the entire flight. I did shut it when I left my seat to walk or ...

I would have been crazed after an hour of a closed in cabin.
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