Why you have to open your plane window shade for takeoff and landing

Olivia Lambert
Associate News Editor

Ever wondered why you have to keep your window shade up during a plane’s takeoff and landing?

Well it turns out there’s actually a really good reason.

Putting your tray table up, folding your armrest down, opening your window and making sure your seat is upright may seem like trivial requests, but it’s all to make life easier in the unlikely event of a crash.

Geoffrey Thomas, who has been writing about Australian aviation for more than 40 years, told Yahoo News keeping windows open meant passengers and cabin crew could identify any potential hazards, like fire and water, if a flight took a troubling turn.

“In the event of a fire you have to be able to see outside to identify where the fire is. What you don’t want to do is open the exit doors into a fire, you want to evacuate from the other side,” he said.

“In another instance you could crash into the surf and you need to know which side the waves are crashing into, or where rescue boats are, to know which side to exit from.”

There’s a really good reason why you have to open your plane window during takeoff and landing. Source: Getty/file

According to research from air manufacturer Boeing, about 48 per cent of fatal plane crashes between 2007 and 2016 happened during the final descent and landing, and 13 per cent occurred during takeoff.

The recent crash by Ethiopian Airways’ Boeing 737 happened shortly after takeoff, killing 157 people.

Why your seat must be upright and your tray table away

Mr Thomas said stowing tray tables, ensuring seats were upright and folding down the armrest meant there would be a clear path to the aisle for passengers.

“In the event of an accident, or for instance the plane doesn’t takeoff or it overruns the runway during landing, you have to get off the plane in a hell of a hurry and need free access to the aisle,” he said.

“If you have your tray table down and seat back, it’s an impediment to other passengers.”

Finder.com.au travel expert Angus Kidman told Yahoo7 News while it may be irritating and frustrating, it was just part of routine.

“It’s a mandated approach to create a clear path for everyone to get out as easily as possible,” he said.

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