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United no longer requires passengers to open window shades

Date: March 9, 2022

Ben Schlappig, One Mile At A Time

In February 2020, United became the first major US airline to require all passengers to open their window shades for taxi, takeoff, and landing. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t actually the responsibility of crews to enforce this policy, but rather they were just required to inform passengers of this.

United will now be reversing course on this policy. As of March 2022, United is no longer requiring passengers to open window shades for taxi, takeoff, and landing. Apparently this policy change is to avoid confusion, and since United was the only airline in the US making this request.


What’s the logic for requiring window shades to be open?

While no major airline in the United States requires passengers to open window shades anymore, this is an incredibly common practice in other countries. This is intended to be a security policy — the logic is that in the event of an evacuation, having your window shades open will give you a better sense of where you are and what the conditions outside the aircraft are.

Logically the rule makes sense. Now, I’m not sure how many lives have been saved over the years as a result of this policy, but in general I think it’s fair to say that in the event of an emergency, having a sense of your surroundings is better than not having a sense of your surroundings.

As an aviation geek I’m also heavily in favor of this policy. Even though I’ve flown millions of miles, I’m constantly amazed by the beauty of flight, and I refuse to miss a takeoff or landing if I’m in a window seat. It’s just so magical. It always surprises me when I’m on a plane where a majority of passengers have their window shades down.

Bottom line

United Airlines is no longer requiring passengers to open window shades for taxi, takeoff, and landing. This represents a reversal to a policy that was first introduced in early 2020. While this is a widely accepted policy outside the United States, now there are no major US airlines requiring this anymore.

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