What's with closing the window shades?

Old Feb 11, 2001, 8:04 pm
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What's with closing the window shades?

Very briefly, here's my story. On the return leg of my pseudo-mileage run this weekend (I say "pseuso" because I actually spent more than 12 hours at my destination --Amsterdam), I'm sitting in my coach window seat. Half hour into the flight, after 90% of the people have closed their window shades, the guy behind me reaches around and shuts the shade to one of my two windows. I turn around and look at him in disbelief, too shocked to say anything. Mind you, this wasn't a window that was half in his space/half in mine, even when my seat was fully upright. It was clearly in my space. Again, too shocked to say anything, I went back to reading. Five minutes later he tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the light was right in his eyes. Considering that it was cloudy and there was nothing to see (and I had another window that was open), it didn't bother me too much. Then, an hour later, two flight attendants come walking up the two aisles, obviously scouting out something. Turns out, some woman clear across the plane was bothered because light from my window was filtering into her space. The FA in my aisle comes up and says words to the effect of, "could you pull down your window shade please." Again dumbfounded, I looked at my watch and said, "the whole flight?" The FA responded (loud enough for several rows to hear), "well, I can't force you to." Too shocked to do anything else, I shut my shade. Now nearly all of the shades were shut and it was as if we were flying in a coffin. I have learned on this website that the best way to fight jetlag is to do what I would be doing at that moment if I were at my destination. Seeing that it was early morning at my destination, it seemed logical that I should expose myself to natural light. Instead, I stewed in the coffin. Several hours later, I went back to the back of the plane, looking for the FA. I explained that I thought she should have looked at her manifest and seen that I was a 1K. At very least, this should have told her to ask me politely if I would be so kind to lower my shade if I didn't mind. In reality, she basically told me that I HAD to lower my shade. Then, I told her that that, while understood that she couldn't force me to do so, by stating that fact so loud that several rows could hear, she essentially forced me to shut my shade or look like a jackass. Essentially, she responded that it didn't matter whether I was a "2K" -- I wasn't aware that United now recognizes this -- and that I could have chosen to to keep my shade open. In fact, she said, I should go open it now. I didn't point out to her that I had the common courtesy to call her aside from her co-workers to discuss the matter -- a courtesy she hadn't seen fit to bestow on me as she said loudly that she couldn't force me to close my shade.

So after that rant, here's where I am. I am bewildered why people on long-haul flights that operate during the middle of the day quite often pull their shades down.

I am also mystified why people not sitting in window seats feel that they have the right to tell those sitting by the window to close their shades. If they didn't want to soak in the sunshine, they should have gotten a window seat or gotten an headmask. Either way, they were unprepared. Be prepared next time.

I am bewildered that somebody sitting behind me could invade my space and shut my window without even bothering to politely ask if he could do so. Unbelievable.

I am considering writing a letter to United about the FA. I found her initial reaction and her unapologetic behavior later to be uncharacteristic of the good service I receive from nearly all FAs. Again, unbelievable.

Sorry for the rant but does anybody have any general comments, suggestions. I do have a strategy in the future. If somebody tries to shut my shade or tells me to shut it, I'll tell them that I'm claustrophobic and if I close my shade, I'll start to freak out. That should probably shut them up.
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Old Feb 11, 2001, 8:20 pm
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A few long (and often funny!) previous threads on this one.

One thing I'll add withoiut taking any side is you do not mention class of flying. That does have a bearing.

If in C of F with individual TV screens, clearly they are less effective for all around if windows are open when plane well in transit and only clouds below.

FA often comes on PA and says "we are starting our movie selection today which is XXXXXXXXXX and as a courtesy to other passengers would you kindly lower your window shades." If that did not happen, guy behind was just rude.

That aside FA seems to have been less than diplomatic, not only to other pax around you, but to you when you were concerned enought to raise it with her.

~ Glen ~
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Old Feb 11, 2001, 8:38 pm
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I was flying in coach -- unfortunately, I couldn't upgrade the way I did going to AMS -- a funny story that I'm about to post.

As far as being able to see the individual screens in business or first while the shades are open, I've found that any glare problems can usually be overcome by adjusting the brightness of the screen. By the way, generally the view outside is way better than any of the movies they show. I mean, The Replacements? Come on. At least UA is being honest in its reviews these days. It refers to that particular movie as "formulaic." I can't wait until the movie studio sees that and starts yelling at UA.
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Old Feb 11, 2001, 9:15 pm
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Other than making it easier for people to watch a movie, some people would want to sleep as well. And it's quite hard if the cabin is very bright. The guy behind you is obviously an ..., but it's always a nice gesture to close the sunshade and just use your overhead lights if you have to read. You wouldn't want someone to keep the blind open if you were on a flight and wanted to sleep, would you? =)
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Old Feb 11, 2001, 11:06 pm
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The answer is simple, and a matter of consideration for other passengers, the same argument for not blasting a radio on a bus or subway.

You cannot avoid looking at light -- your eyes just can't shut it out. It's much easier for people to deal with dark and turn on their individual light if necessary than to try not to notice a glaring light in an almost dark room. Think about it, it's not that hard to understand, and hopefully you won't be that person sitting in front of me demanding the window open when we're all trying to sleep.
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Old Feb 11, 2001, 11:26 pm
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Agree with tfung and TA. It is a nice gesture for people trying to sleep.
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 3:54 am
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I'm with PremEx2000 on this one. It's a pet peeve of mine that FAs want the shades down, even on day flights. When I'm on a day flight returning to the States from Europe, I enjoy looking at the ice fields of northern Canada. I also want natural light to help reset my Cicadian rhythms. I'll happily lower my shades partway to block glare from other passengers, but I DO want some natural light. And I carry eyeshades should I be the one who wants to sleep while others keep their shades up.

I'm bewildered by those who feel that the airplane should be totally dark when its flown entirely in daylight hours. And I'm bewildered by FAs who feel comfortable being very aggressive in lowering my shade!
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 4:05 am
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If I have requested a window seat on a particular flight, I probably want to look out the window.... even if it is cloudy out.... I too hate the feeling of flying in an aluminum 'coffin' during the day. If the guy wants darkness during the day, he should have requested and insisted on sitting in 'E' seats (the middle column of seats in coach). And I too, don't understand the request of FAs to lower the shades... On Lufthansa flights, they have everyone lower their shades so everyone will fall asleep so no one has to do any work.

[This message has been edited by sptbike (edited 02-12-2001).]
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 8:07 am
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My judgement is mixed on this one, mostly because I fly transpacific often and westbound from Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles, these flights are flown almost entirely in daylight. Because of this, I see a need to close the shades but regardless, it DOES bug me that I can't look at what I'm flying over sometimes.


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Old Feb 12, 2001, 9:18 am
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Okay I know that you were flying this weekend. But once I was on the sfo-lhr flight in mid-june and guess what happens on the polar route for your "night flight." The sun never goes down all night.
There are two things that I like to do. One is looking out the window of an airplane while flying and the other is sleeping. My philosphy on life is that when you are tired you will go to sleep and when you are not tired you will not go to sleep. When I was younger and played in a band one of the band members had a baby who use to sleep during the practice. go figure So back to the polar flight in June. There was one traveler who insisted on flying with his window open and people slept anyway. At least I did and the folks in my area did also.
I really agree with the thought that some fa's want the main cabin to go to sleep and not have to provide more service and have seen this not only on ua (which I have only flown twice on the polar route) but other carriers.
And for those who can only sleep in a certain environment than they need to be prepared - eye shades - sleeping pills - stuffed animals - whatever. If I was use to having a class of warm milk and a cookie prior to going to bed every night well I for sure would pack a thermos if flying in the main cabin and I wanted to sleep. I go every year to a certain event which provides the lodging and every year the pillow they give me is terrible. So after about three years I learned to pack my own personal pillow and take it with me! Never had a complaint about the pillow ever since.
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 9:20 am
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Part of my gripe was not that I was asked to lower my shades but the manner in which I was asked (or not asked at all as was the case with the person behind me). The FA should have known that I was a 1K before approaching me in a rude fashion. As a 1K, I deserve the best treatment. I'm sure plenty of people are going to take issue with that but I am one of the people who keeps UA in business. When I fly for work, I generally fly full coach. I give UA special consideration and special appreciation. UA FAs should return the favor and give me special consideration and special appreciation. The FA should have asked in as polite a way as possible if I could lower my shade.

I understand that some people like to sleep. That's why they should go to a travel store and purchase an eyeshade for a few dollars. Just because they came on the flight unprepared, I should not have to suffer. I love looking out the window -- even at clouds. Some people are so jaded. Maybe they fail to appreciate the wonder of flight. Think about this, 100 years ago, nobody had ever flown in an airplane, but everybody had sat in a darkened room. A hundred years later, should I act like I'm on an airplane and enjoy the wonderful view or should I close my shade and act like I'm in a darkened room?

If you don't like the light, bring an eyeshade or get the window seat so you can control the shade. Otherwise, leave me alone.


Wasn't it cool to see the Arctic "sunset" when we were flying from ORD to HKG? Wasn't it cool to look down and see the Artic tundra? If I had my windowshade shut, I would have missed that. That would have been a pity.
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 9:40 am
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I always try to get a window seat because I love looking out the window. On several occasions, I have had FA's ask me to close my window shade "so it's easier for others to see the movie" while flying over some glorious scenery, such as the Grand Canyon or the red rocks in Utah. I politely refuse, saying I'm enjoying the show going on outside.

If a seatmate asks me politely or it's a cloudy day, I'll usually close the shade. But I'll still pop it open partway every once in a while to see what's going on.

I think it's unreasonable to expect people who do not travel very often to think of things like eye shades, but I think it's also unreasonable to ask "the window seat community" (sorry, too many years in SFO) to give up our little perk.
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 9:46 am
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Exactly. The only benefit to a window seat is the window! I really don't like being 3rd from the aisle, but I live with it to be able to see the view. I can appreciate others needs as well, and will try to accomodate them when possible.
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 9:48 am
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I've had people reach around and put down my window shades as well. I like to look out as well if there is anything to see, even the clouds are more interesting than the usual film. I liked the negative comments in the reviews, and found them funny, but it left me wondering, why didn't UA 'rent' some better films if that is how they felt. Perhaps the studios only release the real dogs to in-flight because they have a captive audience.

In a similar vein, I am amazed when I arrive at my seat and someone is in it and says 'we wanted to be together, do you mind' If they take my seat first, you bet I mind. If they ask first, I am usually happy to help, though that usually does not extend as far as taking a middle seat. I get a lot of looks when I ask the person to get up out of my seat but I think that is what they had in mind...that I wouldn't be willing to make a scene!
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Old Feb 12, 2001, 10:33 am
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Originally posted by PremEx2000:
The FA should have known that I was a 1K before approaching me in a rude fashion. As a 1K, I deserve the best treatment
This is where I am having a little heartburn PremEx2000.

I believe that UA does a lot to make 1Ks feel appreciated in many aspects of their service. I believe that ALL passengers should be treated with the same level of respect and courtesy, and that pax need to do the same with the FAs. I think it's a tad arrogant to expect that the FA is going to check her manifest first, get your FF status and then handle you differently. Rudeness is never appropriate and you are certainly correct to take issue with how you were approached about this item, but that rudeness isn't more acceptable if you were a non Mileage Plus flyer. If you do decide to complain about her behavior, I hope you can separate her rudeness from your status. I believe it will have more impact.
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