If you have ever been on a plane, I'm sure you have been asked to fasten your seat belts, put your seat back in the upright position, close all trays and, the one that has always confused me, open all window shades. But why is that? Pretty sure it isn't to enjoy the view outside.
If, like me, you're also wondering why we have to follow this practice of opening window shades during take-off & landing, here's the reason behind it:
First, it is very important to know that the most vulnerable time for a mishap in aircrafts is during landing and take-off. The cabin crew is given specific instructions to keep passengers safe. In case of an emergency, the crew has only 90 seconds to evacuate the people on board.
So preparing for any kind of emergency before hand can help save vital time and those 90 seconds can be the difference between life & death.
Same reason why they make only Able Bodied Persons (ABPs) sit next to emergency exits.
Well, opening window shades during take-off & landing is also part of the standard emergency protocol and passengers are asked to do so majorly for the following reasons:
If an emergency occurs during day time, with the shades up and cabin lights on, it will be easier for a passenger to adjust to the light outside while evacuating. A sudden change in light can cause temporary blurred vision. Same goes for night time, when shades are open but the cabin lights are dimmed.
The crew can assess the situation outside and plan the evacuation accordingly, like which side to disembark from, because during emergencies, every second counts.
In case something goes wrong on the outside, a passenger can also report it quickly. Like any damage to the wings or an engine catching fire.
It is always good to have an extra pair of eyes, especially because passengers are also very cautious of the smallest details while flying.