Can A Flight Attendant Force You To Keep Your Window Shade Open/Closed?

The Flight Detective recently wrote a post about wanting to keep the window shade open while on a flight, even though the flight attendant said to close it. And it got me to thinking…it’s one thing for them ask you to lower (or raise) your window shade, but can they actually FORCE you to do it?


There are some very good reasons why the flight attendants may ask you to keep your window shade open or closed. While the plane is loading and the motor is off, it can get pretty hot in the plane, especially during warmer weather. So if the window shades are down, it could potentially help with keeping the plane a couple of degrees cooler until takeoff. During takeoff and landing, especially at nighttime, the FAs want your eyes to be adjusted to the darkness so if, shall we say, an unfortunate event were to happen, your eyes would be able to see in the darkness that much quicker. On the other hand, open window shades also give the FAs visualization of what’s happening outside the plane, which could be the first tip-off of an emergency. So there are lots of reasons why they may ask you to comply with keeping the window shade open or closed.

But do you HAVE to be compliant?

Well, let’s put it this way. There are currently no Federal Aviation Authority laws that state which way the plane’s window shades have to be during take-off and landing. And there’s nothing in the contract of carriage or even any fare rules for U.S. carriers that states you absolutely, positively have to keep the window shade open or closed at any given time.

But (s)he SAID….!

Well yeah, there is that. And that’s the other side of the coin that we, as ordinary citizens, just don’t know for sure. Some airlines may have a policy about window shades and we just don’t know it. So some FAs might insist, either for what sounds like a good reason (like the ones above) or not, that you keep the window shade in a particular position during a particular time. (S)he may say it’s policy. But is it? The Rule Of Window Shade could be written down in the Name Of Airline handbook, on page 472, within Section III of Chapter 7. Or maybe the FA is talking out of his/her butt, trying to get you to comply. Who knows, really?

Personally, I like looking out the window. So as long as I’m allowed to keep the shade open, I will. But if I’m asked to close it, sure, I will. It’s not that big of a deal and I don’t want to be perceived as a jerk or a troublemaker.

As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

One thought on “Can A Flight Attendant Force You To Keep Your Window Shade Open/Closed?”

  1. First, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Having said that, I would have to believe that airline crews are given some authority over operations and conduct on the plane whether it’s written or not. The captain has over all command of the plane, and I assume if he says lower the shades (or whatever), that’s a legal request/demand.

Leave a Reply