Airbus A350 Dimmable Windows: I Don’t Mind Them!

Airbus A350 Dimmable Windows: I Don’t Mind Them!

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As I wrote about some time ago, newly produced Airbus A350s feature dimmable windows, which is something that was previously only available on Boeing 787s. I’m not a fan of this feature on 787s, so I’ve been curious to see how the A350 dimmable windows compare. I finally had the chance to check them out, so wanted to report back.

Why I don’t like Boeing 787 dimmable windows

The Boeing 787 has had dimmable windows since the plane was launched, in lieu of traditional window shades. While the technology behind it is cool, personally this is a feature I’m not fond of, and it’s one of the reasons that I’ve historically preferred the A350 to the 787:

  • Many times the crew will just “lock” the window setting on dark for the entire flight, meaning there’s no way you can look outside
  • Even when in the darkest mode, I find that it’s still somewhat bright, and worst of all if you’re on the same side of the plane as the sun, it can get hot
  • The dimming happens slowly, which sometimes makes it tough to figure out if you’re controlling the window dimming feature correctly or not
Boeing 787 dimmable windows (on Oman Air)

Why Airbus A350 dimmable windows are better

In 2022, Airbus began introducing A350s with the “new production standard.” This includes several incremental improvements, including the jet being a bit lighter, and the cabin being a bit wider. Along with this, Airbus has also introduced dimmable windows on these jets.

I’ve been curious to test out the dimmable windows on these “new production standard” A350s. Now, my first flight on one of these planes was actually on a Starlux A350-900 from Los Angeles to Taipei. However, it was dark the entire way, so that doesn’t exactly help you with testing out this feature.

Well, I just flew an Air France A350-900 from New York to Paris, and that was operated by one of the carrier’s newest jets, with this feature. The great news is that based on my experience, the dimmable windows on the A350 actually, you know, dim. So when you get to the darkest setting, it’s just about as dark as it would be if you had a “traditional” window shade.

Just take a look at the below picture — the tail camera shows that it’s totally light out, while you can’t see anything through the window. This is significantly better than on the 787, and I also didn’t feel any warmth from outside.

Airbus A350 dimmable windows (on Air France)

The dimming process on the A350 is also really easy. There are simply two buttons — the left button makes the window lighter, while the right button makes the window darker. It’s that simple. You can tell what the current dimming setting is based on where the lines appear, as they’ll appear near the window that represents the setting (light or dark).

Airbus A350 dimmable windows (on Air France)
Airbus A350 dimmable windows (on Air France)

Then when you try to change the setting, there will be squares moving between the windows, indicating that a change is in motion. Once the process is complete, the lines will stop moving.

Airbus A350 dimmable windows (on Air France)

One thing to be aware of is that the process of making the window lighter or darker is very gradual. For example, I timed it, and it took around 90 seconds for the full change to occur. That’s not a big deal at all, of course, but if you just want to take a quick peek out the window and then make it dark again, that’s a three minute process.

But honestly, why would you make the window dark when you have a view like this?!?!?

Gorgeous AF A350-900 wing (the “AF” doesn’t stand for Air France)

Bottom line

I finally had the chance to experience the dimming technology on Airbus A350s. This is a feature you’ll find on newly produced A350s, and it matches the technology on Boeing 787s. While I’m not a huge fan of this technology in general, the A350 dimmable windows are considerably better than on the 787, as they actually get totally dark.

What do you make of the A350 dimmable windows?

Conversations (40)
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  1. Nur Arad Guest

    To the best of my knowledge there is no standard of darkening the windows (shades or chemistry) during any part of the flight - night, day, takeoff, landing or cruise. Window shades must be open during takeoff/landing, and I assume this global rule is due to safety incidents, which I do not delve into.
    Cabin crews worldwide abuse the dimmable windows feature, and always to the 'dark' side
    since it's easier for them.

    To the best of my knowledge there is no standard of darkening the windows (shades or chemistry) during any part of the flight - night, day, takeoff, landing or cruise. Window shades must be open during takeoff/landing, and I assume this global rule is due to safety incidents, which I do not delve into.
    Cabin crews worldwide abuse the dimmable windows feature, and always to the 'dark' side
    since it's easier for them.
    I think this is a clear case where a cool technological feature turns out to be misused.
    I would gladly like to hear comments from Boeing/Airbus on this. I am sure the possibility of such an abuse was thought of.
    And finally: Airlines that regularly force-darken the windows: Shame on You!

  2. Al Guest

    Are there any airlines which allow personal choice over whether the windows or dimmed? So many recent flights the cabin crew control it and you’re then made to feel like you are inconveniencing everyone else if you request yours to be open even if its the middle of the day. I used to actively choose day flights for the view and to feel awake whilst travelling before a nights sleep but now it’s pointless as you may be plunged into darkness anyway.

  3. iamhere Guest

    probably makes it easier for flight staff to deal with locking the window shades open or closed when necessary.

  4. Bee Guest

    Question: on the 787 these windows are standard, right? Meaning an airline couldn’t get shades if they wanted. But even on the new standard A350s, it’s still an option? Or are shades no longer offered at all?

  5. Moein Guest

    The new features of Airbus 350 are interesting . However, Boeing windows are always bigger and more beautiful .

  6. Nate nate Guest

    And, as a plus, the window panel stays attached to the frame. Another reason why Airbus is better.

  7. Samo Guest

    All good until you fly on Turkish Airlines which loves to lock windows dark on all longhaul flights, even during the daytime, so they deprive you of almost all natural light you should get on that day and add a significant boost to your jetlag <3

    1. Vladimir Guest

      3.5 weeks ago flew IST-PTY (13 hrs) on TK 789. Expected windows to be locked to pitch dark immediately after first meal service, but crew dimmed them (without locking) only 4+ hrs into the flight, and I continued to enjoy views 3+ hrs more, when crew eventually locked windows until the pre-sunset time. So its a lottery, like everything in TK.

  8. Stephen Guest

    I <3 you are a shades up person.

    This is such a divisive thing in Delta forums.

  9. LOA Member

    As another poster mentioned...it seems you were on the shaded side. On my JX TPE-LAX, I ended up being on the non-shaded side and a hue of light definitely comes in. And boy does it get warm too, just like the 787. Kinda disappointed at Airbus, tbh. I got the impression that they really nailed the window tint to eliminate that hue that comes in....but if anything, it matches the 787-9/10 window tint. boo!

  10. Brian Guest

    I see that you were sitting on the shadow side of the plane. I have never had any problem with the 787 windows on the shadow side. It is the sun side of the plane that gets the heat and doesn't block the sun completely. Maybe you need to sit on that side of the plane and compare.

  11. Robert Guest

    Anytime I have flown 788, 789, 78K, And the windows were locked I simply asked the FA to unlock my window
    Never had a problem
    UA 789 78K
    LAN 788
    NAX 788, 789

    The dimmable windows are perfectly fine yes we're nice if they were more quick

    Let's get on-board cameras on to all wide bodies

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      yes, on required onboard cameras. not just for widebodies but for every jet.
      Or else require US carriers to keep window shades open from takeoff to 10,000 feet and from cleared to land and below.
      some of us are not interested in keeping our noises glued to a personal device while clueless about what goes on outside of a metal tube

  12. neogucky Member

    Locking the windows at dark sounds sad. But how do you people deal with others asking you to close the blinds in general? I had this recently in BKK - DOH in the a380 from a lady on a middle seat. I wanted to enjoy the view and told her so but still dimmed one window. Later I would have loved to open it again but felt kinda bad. Any suggestions?

    1. Dick Bupkiss Guest

      Yeah, two words: Business Class.

  13. Jim Guest

    Why are new airliners moving to this? What problem is it solving? Even the A350 dimmable windows do not solve the issue of the window tinting updating too slowly. Seems like at best, the new dimmable windows replaced some disadvantages of window shades with an equal number of other disadvantages. At worst, it replaced them with *more* disadvantages.

    1. snic Diamond

      And what happens when they break, as all electronics eventually does? It's aasy and cheap to replace a mechanical shade. Replacing an electronic window might be kinda pricey, motivating airlines to let planes fly for a long time without fixing them. Which could be very uncomfortable for passengers.

      Sounds to me like these gizmos are just as useful as replacing your car windshield with a camera and computer monitor.

    2. Lune Diamond

      My understanding is that they use this to make the sidewalls thinner. Thinner sidewalls means wider interior space within the same metal tube (this is how e.g. the 777X is getting 4 extra inches of cabin width within the same exterior tube as the 777).

      Those manual shades take up space within sidewalls, especially as the windows get bigger (787 has larger windows than other Boeing aircraft). Using LED dimmers means you don't need space...

      My understanding is that they use this to make the sidewalls thinner. Thinner sidewalls means wider interior space within the same metal tube (this is how e.g. the 777X is getting 4 extra inches of cabin width within the same exterior tube as the 777).

      Those manual shades take up space within sidewalls, especially as the windows get bigger (787 has larger windows than other Boeing aircraft). Using LED dimmers means you don't need space for the window shade to slide into.

  14. Miles Guest

    My experiences on eastbound TATL 787s is that the AA FAs locked the electronic window shades "shut" throughout the night. We are in a time of peak of solar activity, with frequent active aurora borealis displays...but there was no way to enjoy seeing them. Bummer!

  15. Super Diamond

    On the lightest setting does the window have a blue tint? It seems that way from the pic :(

  16. JW in GA Guest

    I've come around on these. I initially disliked them on 787's, mainly for not getting dark enough. However, on a recent ANA RTW trip on a mix of primarily 787's (NH) and 350's (TK), I found myself missing them. The regular/manual shades of the TK A350 was just too binary while the NH B787 was nice to have gradations so you could look outside without disrupting the rest of the cabin. The A350 improvement of showing the change is helpful versus having to guess.

  17. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The real question is can the FAs override passenger controls and is there any indication that either of the two carriers you were on tried to lock out customer window controls.

    The larger principle is that Airbus continues to improve its products and outperform Boeing products.
    That has played out with the A320 vs B737 family, played out with the A330 vs. B767, and is now just beginning to play out w/ the A350...

    The real question is can the FAs override passenger controls and is there any indication that either of the two carriers you were on tried to lock out customer window controls.

    The larger principle is that Airbus continues to improve its products and outperform Boeing products.
    That has played out with the A320 vs B737 family, played out with the A330 vs. B767, and is now just beginning to play out w/ the A350 vs. B787 and 777X. It will take years to see how far this goes because Boeing has a large headstart w/ the B787 but the A350 is simply far more capable, slightly larger in comparable models, and more efficient.
    Airbus is building A350s on-time other than supplier issues and expanding capacity. The growth of A350 sales in countries that have been fiercely loyal to Boeing is breathtaking.

    And specific to US carriers, DL's use of the A350 will give it a huge advantage while UA has got to be seriously thinking about advancing the order for A350s that it keeps parking.

    1. UncleRonnie Guest

      Is DL going to use A350s? You never mention it…

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      to AA and UA's demise, yes.
      Unfortunately for UA, they have A350s on order and could have them by now but keep pushing their orders out - so they can fly 265 seat 787s while DL and most major global carriers are flying larger aircraft.

  18. jcil Guest

    There are no windows in the cargo hold--maybe that's where all the jerks that want the windows shut at all times belong. Just use the eyeshades you are given for free--they don't make you look anymore childish that the pajamas you have on.

    I seriously wonder why Boeing and Airbus go to all the engineering trouble and manufacturing cost to put in windows anymore. Seems like the only thing everyone is interested in looking at is their phone--sad.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I just was on a transpacific flight in business class (overnight from Japan, midday arrival in the Midwest) and most passengers had the windows open for the first hour or two and then the last 2-3 hours.

      I do like the ability to dim the window to select some light.

      My beef is with FAs locking them out.

      And I don't think any US carriers have external cameras and I sadly doubt that DL will turn them on when they get their latest A350s including the -1000. Sad.

    2. jcil Guest

      What sort of thought process would lead the Delta brain trust to not turn on the tail camera and pipe it to all the seats? I don't get not offering it, but I would not bet even a dollar that Delta would actually turn it on.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      My guess is that Delta is paranoid that passengers might see something that they wouldn't want them to see.
      Delta limits the functionality of the navigation tracking system below 10k feet.
      A350-900s on other airlines have tail and underbody cameras so DL could have them now if they wanted.
      Maybe their newest A350-900s will have them but I am not holding my breath.

    4. Lune Diamond

      I believe the Emirates CEO actually made this point, that in the future there would be no windows and everyone would just have an LCD screen where the window is. It makes a lot of sense: structurally much easier to make, lighter, stronger, and LCD screens are now hi def enough to give you a life like images.

      He put his money where his mouth is with his newest first class where the middle suites...

      I believe the Emirates CEO actually made this point, that in the future there would be no windows and everyone would just have an LCD screen where the window is. It makes a lot of sense: structurally much easier to make, lighter, stronger, and LCD screens are now hi def enough to give you a life like images.

      He put his money where his mouth is with his newest first class where the middle suites have LCD "Windows" and most reviewers seem to like them.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation of clean sheet designs does this. But personally I'll always love having an actual window to look outside!

  19. Klaus_S New Member

    „ the “AF” doesn’t stand for Air France „

    ??? What does it stand for ?

    1. Kor Guest

      He was making a joke I guess... gorgeous As F××× ;)

  20. Todd Diamond

    I couldn't get mine to work so I'm fairly confident the crew had locked them in dark mode the entire flight. I mean, it was a night flight, but seeing the lights coming into Paris would have been nice. I had to rely on the nose wheel and tail cameras for that.

  21. Redacted Guest

    Interesting! I appreciate the 787 lock mode because it prevents one annoying passenger from having a bright window when everyone else is trying to sleep, but I agree the controls could be better implemented.

    Picture captions should state “A350 Air France.”

    1. Airfarer Diamond

      I prefer to read in natural light. What about me?

  22. GBSanDiego Guest

    Nice feature on the A350! Maybe I get a chance to try it out in 2025.

    1. A220HubandSpoke New Member

      I was under the impression that Boeing was planning on releasing an updated version of the dimmable Windows on the 777x.

      Guess that'll never happen...

    2. Chris Guest

      There seems to be a typo with images 2 to 5 from the top. They should say “Airbus A350 dimmable windows on Air France”, not “Boeing 787 dimmable windows on Air France”.

  23. Dominos Guest

    Nice. Perfect to shutdown those inconsiderate dbags who love to keep the shades open, and sunlight in, on those long nonstop sunshine TPAC flights.

    1. Airfarer Diamond

      That would be me. Put damn your eyeshades on.

  24. Dave Guest

    Interesting! Great post. Just FYI your photo captions state 787 and maybe you mean A350?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Airfarer Diamond

That would be me. Put damn your eyeshades on.

2
Jim Guest

Why are new airliners moving to this? What problem is it solving? Even the A350 dimmable windows do not solve the issue of the window tinting updating too slowly. Seems like at best, the new dimmable windows replaced some disadvantages of window shades with an equal number of other disadvantages. At worst, it replaced them with *more* disadvantages.

2
Miles Guest

My experiences on eastbound TATL 787s is that the AA FAs locked the electronic window shades "shut" throughout the night. We are in a time of peak of solar activity, with frequent active aurora borealis displays...but there was no way to enjoy seeing them. Bummer!

2
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