This is the question of the week from another reader of ours. Why cabin crew members ask passengers to open their window shades, take off their headphones and put their seatbacks in an upright position for departure and landing?
One thing is for sure – they don’t do it just because ”they don’t like you”. Don’t take it too personal when flight attendants tell you what to do, just because they’re observing the rules of their airline.
Window shades should be opened before take off and landing because this is the time when evacuation is most likely to occur. If that happens cabin crew must have the visibility to know what is happening outside. It is quite difficult for them to estimate the situation through the small illuminators of the doors that is why they’re asking for your cooperation BEFORE something bad happens.
It is also not a good idea to stay with your headphones on before take off and landing. For example if there is hydraulic leak, as a passenger you won’t notice anything unless the pilots or the cabin crew staff informs you. Therefore when you’re with your headphones on it will be hard for you to hear the cabin crew’s instructions and probably evacuation commands. Speaking of hydraulic leak I had a flight when I experienced such thing. You can read more about what happened here: Unscheduled landing after our plane experienced an apparent hydraulic leak.
And why do armrests have to be down and you should put your seat backs in an upright position? The answer is simple. If you’re seat back is not in an upright position you will interfere passengers behind you to evacuate more easily. That is why you can’t never lean back your seat back if you’re seating in front of emergency exits. They’re just made that way and there is nothing you can do. And armrests have to be down so you can hold in case of strong turbulence, decompression or emergency landing.
For more you can read my other article What you actually don’t know about your flight