It’s the flight attendant’s typical request that you’ll hear while landing and taking off. Having to wake up from a hardly-slept nap on a long tiring flight or having to pause what you’re watching on screen or whatever you’re doing to just open your window is undeniably annoying. However, this seemingly useless and annoying command is not so useless as it seems.
Your eyes in emergency!
Landing and taking off are the two most dangerous stages of a flight, where a plane is at a more risk of an accident than at any other time of flying, so in case of an emergency, airlines need to make sure passengers can safely and quickly evacuate the plane. Yes, what does this have to do with eyes? When plane windows are closed, your eyes are kept away from the light outside, whether it was a day or night. Normally, the pupils adjust themselves to protect the eyes, so when the eyes are exposed to light, the pupils contract and become smaller so that the extra light can be blocked. When the eyes are exposed to the dark, the pupils grow wider to allow more light to come in the eyes. So? Unfortunately, this adjustment does not happen quickly and may take few moments. Given that a plane needs to be evacuated immediately in an emergency, you need to have your eye adjusted to the light or dim outside, so you would be able to be observing your surroundings well and reacting quickly.
Safety comes first
During an emergency, it’s necessary to know if the outside environment is safe before the cabin crew could evacuate the passengers. The outside could be even more dangerous than being on a plane in emergency! In addition, this would help flight attendants know which emergency exits are preferable to use and which ones to avoid. For instance, if one of the engines on one of the sides of the plane is on fire, it wouldn’t be a good idea to evacuate the passengers through emergency exists on the same side of that engine. Hence, flight attendants would need to have the windows open to assess how safe or unsafe an emergency exit would be.
Another reason is that the emergency team assigned to the rescuing process to rescue everyone on the flight would want to see what’s happening on the plane before they could step in for the rescue. They know what help they can offer based on what they could see through in the plane. In addition, this is also necessary for their own safety. If windows are closed, it would be hardly possible that the emergency team would be able to see through.
Taking you to behind the scenes, who knew how just a simple window can be so important to adjust on a flight? Eyes, safety and rescue. A lot to do for a small window! Yes, it would still be annoying having to wake up or having to get distracted to open a window, but now, you at least know the reason…