It’s always interesting to see how airline “safety” policies differ around the world. United Airlines is making two updates to their inflight protocols that seem like they’re trying to accomplish opposite things (sort of).
United Airlines will require passengers to open window shades
As of February 1, 2020, United Airlines will instruct passengers to keep window shades open during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
It doesn’t sound like this policy will actually be enforced, which is to say that crews are being instructed to make the announcement, but not to enforce that everyone is complying with their instructions.
Even though I’ve flown millions of miles, I’m constantly amazed by the beauty of flight, and I refuse to miss a takeoff or landing if I’m in a window seat. It’s just so magical. It always surprises me when I’m on a plane where a majority of passengers have their window shades down.
Most non-US airlines already have a policy requiring passengers to keep window shades open during critical phases of flight. This is a security policy — the logic is that in the event of an evacuation, having your window shades open will give you a better sense of where you are and what the conditions are.
United Airlines will no longer require passengers to keep electronics unplugged
As of February 1, 2020, United Airlines will no longer require passengers to keep personal electronic devices unplugged during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
Lots of airlines around the world have this requirement, and the logic is simple — in the event of an evacuation, you don’t want people tripping over wires.
But it seems United is abolishing that, and will allow passengers to keep electronics plugged in.
In many ways these two policy updates seem at odds with one another. Using conventional global airline “safety” standards, United is improving safety by requiring window shades to be open, and they’re reducing safety by allowing electronics to remain plugged in.
Of course the chances of either of these policies making a difference in the event of an emergency are fairly minimal. I’m not suggesting United is necessarily any safer or less safe as a result of these policy changes.
As an aviation geek and someone who is rather neurotic about keeping electronics charged on planes (I’ve clearly spent too much time on ex-US Airways A321s without power ports), I like both of these changes. I love to have my window shade open, and I also like to charge electronics at every opportunity.
What do you make of United Airlines’ policy changes?