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Plane secrets: Why should we open window shades at takeoff, landing

Takeoff and landing are considered to be critical times in aviation when most accidents happen. (Shutterstock)

By Ajanta Paul

Have you ever wondered why cabin crew on commercial flights ask you to raise your window shade for take-off and landing?

Some of us might feel it's unnecessary to be woken up just to raise our window shade, right? Will it make a difference if we say - this could be the difference between life and death?

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An Aviation Safety Officer, Saran Udayakumar, explains in Quora, "The window shade opening is a part of a long process to prepare the cabin for sudden (unexpected) emergencies."

Takeoff and landing are considered to be critical times in aviation when most accidents happen.

Flight attendants are required to prepare the aircraft for any contingencies.

The cabin crew have only 90 seconds to evacuate all passengers in case of emergencies.

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The process of evacuation itself should not take more than 90 seconds regardless of the size of the aircraft or the number of passengers.

So the crew will prepare flight in advance to make this 90 second rescue possible.

A former cabin crew, informs Emirates 24|7, "Raising window shades and adjusting cabin lights ensures that passengers' eyes are well-adjusted to the light outside."

The credible team at Q&A site travel.stackexchange.com, points out a lot of really good reasons why shades are opened.

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- Passengers are curious, hence they are perfect 'extra eyes' to see if something goes wrong out there, like with one of the engines. Usually passengers report any untoward incidents right away.

- In case of sudden emergencies, every second counts when it comes to being organised. If shades are open the crew can see the outside conditions, and this will help them in planning an evacuation, such as determining which doors to use (as, for example, one side may be on fire).

- During the daytime, opening window shades and putting cabin lights to full makes the eyes more used to the light. This means that if something goes wrong and people need to be evacuated quickly there will not be a sudden change in light contrast, which might lead to temporary blurred vision.

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- It's the same thing on night flights: window shades are open and cabin lights are dimmed as it helps ground emergency personnel outside to see what's happening on the inside of the cabin if something goes wrong.

- Raising window shades also gives rescue personnel better visibility inside the craft.

- In case of an emergency, cabin crew need to decide which side of the aircraft is safest to disembark from. Leaving the window shade up allows them to make a quick call.

So try not to be grumpy and annoyed the next time you're asked to raise the window shades.