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A dark review for United’s Boeing 787

I've flown several more 787 Dreamliners since the one I wrote about in that review from 2017, and if anything I'd be more emphatic in condemning non-passenger control of that plane's electronic window "shades." On the last flight I took, all the windows were dimmed remotely, in the middle of the day, repeatedly, by flight attendants, regardless of who was looking out the window seats those passengers took the trouble to book in the first place. ( More...

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andromeda07 20
This is my number one pet peeve about flying -- being told to close the shades so people can watch a $2 movie instead of a $2000 view out the window. This is a unique perspective on the natural world that can inspire kids and young people to consider careers in the industry. Or just rouse a modicum of curiosity about nature and science. But no, keeping people dumb and distracted is more important.
siriusloon 4
It's not a safety-of-flight issue, so I would resist right up until a visit from the captain threatening to divert the flight and have NORAD escort us to the nearest airport. If I pay for a window seat, I'm looking out the damned window whenever I want. If Airlines don't like it, they should tell Boeing, Airbus, etc to replace the clear plastic panels with sheet metal.
Rob Palmer 1
Agreed, 100%. When I was ten it was educational and fascinating to watch Long Island when flying down to Washington to meet my mother on an American DC-6A non-pressurized plane. We must have been 12 - 15 thousand feet, and houses, estates and yards and beaches were quite visible. Later, at National Airport in DCA, lady came up to us and told my Mom "I wish I could get my grandchildren to fly alone; I've watched your son all the way down from Boston." Who was this lady? Next day her picture was in the old Times Herald. It was Gen Patton's widow Beatrice Ayer Patton one year after the general's demise.
Tom Bruce 11
I flew every other week for 25 years...always got window seat... like watching world go by... last trip Frankfurt to SFO had the only window shades open... as we flew over Jan Mayen Island volcano, Greenland's ice fields and glaciers and the tundra of N Canada... was asked many times to close shade...refused.. would hate to have someone close them off...on the other hand, flight attendants have a lessor workload if everyone asleep or glued to their device..old guy, I know
David Searls 9
I noticed the same thing over recent years: more and more window shades closed, no matter what wonders were visible on the ground below. It made me wonder if most people requesting window seats did so just so they could sleep against a wall.

I also wonder if pilots are now instructed not to tell passengers about the sights below, a practice that was also common in years past. Two of those occasions stand out. One was a DC-10 pilot tipping the plane toward Yosemite on approach to SFO, so passengers on the port side could see the valley through their windows. Then, a few years later (in 2007) a 777 pilot told passengers that this season's iceberg-calving off Greenland was especially interesting, and indeed it was:

But in recent years, silence from the cockpit.
spatr 5
As a pilot for an airline with TV and internet on our planes, we are actually discouraged from making anything other than a welcome aboard PA. The rationale is that passengers don't want the TV audio interrupted for a sightseeing update. Also, if they're curious about our position, we have a moving map channel. I used to enjoy the updates, but now I just enjoy my view.
David Searls 4
So it is as we suspected. What a sad development.

So is United's discontinuing "From the flight deck" as one of the channels in its entertainment system. It was one of the few advantages United had, amidst its portfolio of more or less typical features. And it was a big hit both with pilots flying as passengers (and there are many) and with lovers of aviation such as myself.

By the way, the moving map channel varies widely among airlines. Some are very detailed. Others are awful, showing on long flights only a world map with a line on it and a plane the size of Texas showing position.

What can we do to turn this around? How about a sightseeing channel for window-sitters?
Bill Harris 1
The last United flight I flew with "From the Flight Deck" available was probably twenty years ago, SFO>SEA. I recall getting a little anxious when the crew missed a sector handoff for many minutes, and finally made the freq change on the second call from the controller handling the sector we had left. It felt like we must have covered most of Southern Oregon without being in proper contact with ATC.
United hasn’t had ‘Channel 9’ for many years. The old CO aircraft never had it. None of the UA-Express fleet had it either. Most of the old UA 319/320 fleet seems to have lost it as they installed WiFi and then WiFI with Inflight Entertainment. Now if you connect up to the WiFi and stream
On an Air Canada flight the other day, YHZ to YYZ, the “air show” was set up for the reverse leg, so that the “distance to destination” and “distance covered” both started at zero and increased in tandem, with the distance yet to go hitting maximum as we landed. I hope there are better navigation aids up front.
Tim Cansler 2
The last time I flew I missed listening to the ATC and radio channel they used to let passengers listen to. I guess they don't turn that on anymore. I'd sit there listen to that channel and watch the world go by.
Tom Bruce 3
agree David
Disputes over control of the shades has been problematic ever since General George Washington captured the airports from the Redcoats.
djames225 3
Tom Bruce 4
btweston -1
Sarah Palin would like for you to stop reading off of a TelePrompTer.
Mike Boote 4
I couldn't agree more. I have always wondered why someone asks for a window seat and immediately shuts the shade the second they get on board. I have never flown on a 787 (mainly because I never fly United or American) but always suspected the F/A's would dim the windows despite your desire to look outside rather than watch a Seinfeld re-run.
treborselpats 6
I had the same experience yesterday on a flight from Los Angeles. Some millenial "manbun" dude sat in the window seat and immediately closed the shades so he could text and watch a movie. I asked if he would leave the shade up on takeoff and climb out...he refused. Offered to switch my aisle seat with him..refused. Entitled little arse.
It seems pointless to engage with such people. I’m a window seat fan who has given them up for aisles just because of my own reluctance to disturb my neighbors for my own need to get up and move around from time to time. I also wonder at passengers who take a window seat and shut off the view.
George Cottay 1
Just appreciating the "Dark Review" headline.


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