Why do airplane window shades need to be kept open on take-off and landing?

Although it might seem petty to many flight passengers, being instructed to open the window shades before take-off and landing is much more important to passenger safety than you would think.

In emergency situations, cabin crew only have 90 seconds to evacuate the aeroplane. To make sure that this can happen, they must prepare the aircraft and the passengers to ensure everyone can be evacuated safely and quickly.

There are numerous safety benefits for keeping the window shades open for landing and take-off:

  • Passengers are curious, so act as an extra pair of eyes if anything looks unusual – take-offs and landings are considered to be critical times in aviation, with complications more likely to occur during this time – although it is very rare.
  • In an emergency, every second counts, cabin crew will be able to see outside conditions to help plan an evacuation – such as what doors are safe to use.
  • Passengers and cabin crew will be acclimatised to low- or high-light conditions – avoiding temporary blurred vision.
  • Ground emergency personnel outside can see inside the cabin.

It’s not something that’s likely to ever affect most of us, but these are the reason why the window shades have to be open.

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