United Airlines told eTurboNews: “The safety of our customers and employees is paramount.”
Judging from a policy on United Airlines to allow passengers to keep window shades on United aircrafts closed during take off and landing, this may not be the best approach for a flight operation and passenger safety.
Most international airlines enforce window shades on aircrafts to be open during take off and landing. This policy by leading airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Iran air, Qantas, SAA, Saudia and many more is supported also by U.S. based Hawaiian Airlines.
A spokesperson from Hawaiian Airlines in Honolulu told eTN: “It is Hawaiian Airlines’ policy that window shades must be open during take-off and landing. We enforce this policy because should there be an incident or emergency that takes place outside of the aircraft, passengers would be able to recognize it and inform crew members. While not all airlines practice this rule, Hawaiian Airlines feels various assessments during critical phases of flight operations is extremely important towards our commitment to safety.”
A spokesperson for United Airlines continued to explain his side of this “important safety” issue:
“We have a stellar, exceptional safety record and have been an industry leader in safety strategy and innovation. There are no regulations (or guidance) that require carriers to keep the shades open or closed during taxi, takeoff or landing. Nor is there any data from previous incidents that suggests one or the other influenced the outcome. As such we don’t mandate one way or another regarding customer window shades.”
eTN was unable to find any expert echoing what United Airlines related. Aviation Safety Officer, Saran Udayakumar told The Independence Newspaper in London that in cases of emergency the cabin crew only have 90 seconds to evacuate an aircraft. In order to make this possible the crew prepare the passengers and the aircraft so if anything does go wrong they can evacuate quickly. This also means emergency personnel outside can see into the cabin to assess the situation.
It is for passengers and cabin crew to be aware of what’s happening outside as soon as possible; like in the case of an emergency.
It’s part situational awareness and part being able to see visually if there’s a problem with the control surfaces, wings, engines and such.
The best advice air crew staffs recommend in the case of an emergency is to take control. In January 2009 the passengers of US Air Flight 1549 landed in New York on the Hudson River in what the Mayor of the city called a “miracle on the Hudson”.
The 150 passengers on board survived and worked together with the crew to assess the situation and ensure the safety of their fellow passengers.