Traveler Sparks Debate By Insisting That Airplane Window Shades Should Stay Up At All Times 'By Default'

Shouldn't control of the window shade fall to the person who paid for the window seat?

man looking out airplane window Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock

Everybody has their opinions about airplane etiquette, and that's mainly because air travel has become such a nightmare, in part because so many air travel passengers have become nightmares.

But one man's prescription for how to improve the experience has generated a lot of controversy online, and it's got some wondering if he's not part of the problem himself.

The man believes airplane window shades should stay up at all times as a rule.

It's a testament to how infuriating flying is from start to finish that even something as petty as window shades would cause so much consternation. But this guy certainly isn't alone.


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People are so deeply annoyed by each other's airplane habits that battles over plane window shades have gone viral over and over again.


And a Redditor thinks he has the perfect solution: airplane window shades should remain up by default. Now, he's not talking about the common safety procedure of requiring window shades to be up during takeoff and landing. That's a rule for very good reason.



He just means it should be an accepted rule across the board; that it should be the default expectation. Given that he posted his take in the r/unpopularopinion subreddit, he seems to have sensed ahead of time that it would be controversial, and boy was he right.

He thinks airplane window shades should stay up 'by default' so that people can enjoy the view from above. 

The man said in his post that he grew up without much money, and never even flew on a plane until he was a full-grown adult of 24, on a trip for work. "As a kid, it simply wasn’t something we could have afforded," he wrote. "My folks could barely afford gas to get themselves to work, let alone plane tickets for a family of four."


So when he did finally get to go on a plane? Well, suffice to say it was a downright magical experience. "The first time I flew, 24-year old me instantly became 6-year-old me when I looked out the window of an ascending plane," he said. "It was unlike anything I had ever experienced."



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There's no doubt about it — it really is a magical experience, and one we take for granted. I did fly a lot as a kid, traveling between my mom's and dad's homes by plane from a very young age, and I vividly remember the wonder of watching the world go by from thousands of feet up. Today, I'm an aisle seat kind of guy, but if I end up in an otherwise empty row, I immediately move to the window for this reason.


The Redditor thinks the magic of the window seat goes far too underappreciated by today's air passengers.

"I still get that rush, that *thrill* when the plane takes off," he wrote. "I only fly about once every 1-2 years now, and looking out the window is something I look forward to every time."

And he just can't understand people who "take flying for granted and ask me to put the shade down when we haven't even left the gate yet."



He conceded that he doesn't mind being asked to close the window shade on an overnight transatlantic flight, but he resents being asked to close it otherwise. "This isn't a 9 hour flight," he wrote, "we're on a 90-minute flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago at 2:00 in the afternoon... Bring an eye mask if you're planning to sleep."


People vehemently disagreed that airplane window shades should stay up by default, feeling it should be up to whoever paid for the window seat.

It's hard to agree with this guy somewhat; people have become all too comfortable demanding other passengers accommodate their preferences, from insisting their seatmates don't use their reading lights to demanding other passengers not eat food they don't like on airplanes.

Commanding people to close their window shades is really no different. Who exactly do these people think they are?



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But making it a rule that window shades stay up seems a bit extreme as a response, right? People on Reddit definitely seemed to feel that way. Most felt that nobody should really get a say in the airplane window shade except the person who paid for the window seat. "Book yourself a window seat and then you can keep the shade up all you like," one person commented.

The Redditor responded to say that he always books a window seat for this reason, but "without fail, the person next to me wants it down," to which he responded, "Nope, not happening. You can borrow my eye mask for the next 90 minutes. You’ll live."

As reasonable as that may seem, there were people who still felt the opposite. "Someone hasn’t had the sun shining RIGHT in their eyes on a morning flight before," one person sniped. "I think it’s possible to balance the sense of wonder with courtesy for others around you."


Okay, sure, there really is nothing worse than the sun boring into your eyeballs during a flight. But why is that another person's problem if they paid for a window seat?

This pretty much seems like one of those argument we'll all never see eye-to-eye on, but one Reddit commenter did have a helpful tip to avoid this conflict all together: purchase your seats based on where the sun is likely to be during your flight.

"Assuming you live in northern hemisphere, choose the side of the plane that will be north [or] west in the morning, or east in the afternoon," the person wrote, adding that "it’s not the window being open, it’s the direct above the clouds sunlight" that is actually the problem.

Maybe if we all keep that in mind we can avoid at least one source of airplane drama in the future!


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.