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Who controls the window shade on an airplane is one of those divisive topics like reclining your seat, who gets the middle seat arm rest and even kids on planes.

Recently, a woman posted an 8-second video on TikTok with the caption, “POV: the kid in front of me thinks he can close MY window shade.” Turns out, @vmaymah was traveling on Qatar Airways (one of my favorites) and the video struck a chord with both viewers and TikTok’s algorithm since it has garnered over 16 million views and 18,000 comments. Watch the video for yourself:


@vmaymah Its my window 😐 #windowseat #plane #foryou #viral #fy ♬ original sound – quis

Some of the comments show how divisive opening or shutting an airplane window shade really can be.

So, who controls the window shade?
First of all, the unwritten rule is that whoever is sitting beside the window controls the shade. If you are adamant about wanting the shade open or closed, then you’d better book the window seat.

I personally love to look out the window when I fly, even on routes that I fly frequently. There’s always something new to see and I also like it open to stay awake and alleviate jet lag.

Little kid tries to shut woman's window shade on airplane.
Do you HAVE to close the window shade if someone else asks you to?
If someone asks you to close the window shade, you don’t have to shut it unless it’s the flight attendant or the pilot. The pilot has the final say and they almost always back their flight attendants.

The few times the glare was so bad and I wasn’t seated in the window seat, I kindly asked my seatmate if they would mind closing it until the sun rises or sets a little bit more. I’ve never been denied. Never underestimate the power of being genuinely kind and polite.

On the flip side, numerous times I’ve also asked my seatmate to open their window shade at night, especially during landing because it’s not bright enough to bother anyone and it’s a safety hazard to have the shade closed.

Do the window shades have to be open for takeoff and landing?
In some countries, it’s mandatory to have the window shades open for takeoff and landing but in the U.S. it’s surprisingly not. Some U.S. airlines do require it but the only one I can think of is Hawaiian Airlines. Please let me know in the comments section if there are others I’m not thinking of.

I thought the TikTok video above was cute to see a little kid’s tiny arm reach back and shut the window shade twice. However, if it was an adult, that’s another story.

Everyone should know that little kids are unfiltered and don’t know any better since they haven’t had many years on earth. I’m sure the kid was probably trying to watch a TV show or play a video game and the glare was annoying, something we can all relate to.

Oftentimes, flight attendants proactively shut window shades or ask the passengers to do it on a long overnight flight when midway through, the sun will rise and disturb everyone. They also often do it when landing in a hot climate and they don’t want the sun to heat the plane up for the next flight.

The only time I saw a flight attendant tell a passenger they had to shut their window shade mid-flight was a few years ago. I was flying between Los Angeles and Miami and everyone in my cabin had their shades down because it was a morning flight and passengers wanted to sleep … except the two Aussies who had just gotten off a long-haul flight from Sydney. They argued with the flight attendant that they didn’t want to shut their window shade because they needed the sunlight to keep them on track to avoid jet lag. They’re smart as they were trying to adjust to local time as soon as possible.

TIP: If you want to sleep during a day flight, just bring a good eye mask. If you don’t have one, ask a flight attendant if they have some extras. They usually do but I find them tight and scratchy. Instead, I use this comfy and inexpensive eye mask whenever I travel.

The Sleep Hack Every Traveler Needs to Know
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5 Comments On "Little Kid Closing Woman's Window Shade on Airplane Sparks Debate: Who Controls the Window Shade?"
  1. Laurie|

    I agree, being kind and polite is always the way to go!

  2. William Lovell|

    The point is being missed. Kids don’t get to tell grownups what to do. No matter where. This brat needs a scolding.

  3. Johnbuoy|

    The child or adult guardian with him/her should have asked politely of the passenger who has direct control of the shade if they would close or at least pull it down a little. Simple enough.
    However, I’m curious whether the Aussies mentioned in the article closed their shades or not. You never said.
    Smooth sailing,

  4. Pamela Johnson|

    wheres the parent

  5. LTurner|

    The same situation happened to me a few years ago. a child kept persistently reaching back and closing the window shade at my seat. I finally put my hand up and kept it open until he ceased. There was no blaring sun and the light from the window wasn’t directly affecting his seat. I’m not sure what his point was.

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