One of Boeing’s most talked about features is its electrochromism-based dimmable windows. Instead of moving the shade up or down like on other aircraft, passenger can control the amount of light coming in through their window with the touch of a button.
When a passenger chooses to darken the window, more voltage is applied to the gel which is held in place between two thin sheets of glass. As voltage increases, the gel gets darker, and when decreased, it gets lighter. One of the selling points was that flight attendants could override passenger settings from their crew management system. This is seen mostly on day-time long haul flights where they darken the cabin to allow passengers to get some rest or watch TV on their seat-back display or personal devices.
While in theory it sounds beneficial, not everyone wants to darken their windows during the day. The feature makes more sense for flights transitioning from darkness into sunlight (as I learnt at a very young age), but for many, not having the option to allow maximum light in during the day is a bit annoying.
Management at United Airlines seems to be listening to its customers, as evidenced in an internal note sent out to its crew members.
Remember, on B787s, please don’t use the flight attendant panel to force window shades to darken or lock them at a set level. This prevents customers from adjusting their window shades as they prefer.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s hope that passengers don’t get into a fit of rage and start punching seats should they not get their way over how bright or dark the window is.