The 787 allows passengers to choose different dim levels.

The 787 allows passengers to choose different from five different levels.

Reuters reported yesterday that passengers have complained about the windows not darkening enough on the 787 and that All Nippon Airways (ANA) is working with Boeing to install sunshades on their 787 Dreamliners. It appears that both of these statements are false.

One of the well touted benefits (by me and many others) of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are the dimmable windows. Instead of your classic shade that can be pulled down over the window, the 787 allows passengers to still be connected to the flying experience, while reducing the natural light that enters the cabin.

About a week ago, ANA released a survey showing that about 88% of passengers reported that the windows dimmability was better than they expected or fully met expectations. It seems that there might have been some confusion that passengers complained about the window and the other 12% did not like them. Nao Gunji, ANA spokes person told that they have not received any direct complaints on the darkness levels of the 787’s windows and they are not wanting shades. “We are definitely not looking to install sunshades,” Gunji explained over the phone.

One of the lavatories has a window shade in ANA's 787 Dreamliner.

One of the lavatories has a window shade in ANA’s 787 Dreamliner. Photo by Nicholas Smith /

Although ANA is not looking at a sunshade option, it appears it could be possible. ANA already has one window in each 787 Dreamliner with a sunshade — in their lavatory — and it also has the dimming function. Could Boeing be working with other airlines to install sunshades on the 787?

“We are always looking at ways to improve our products but don’t discuss specific efforts in development,” Scott S. Lefeber, with Boeing 787 Communications explained via email. “Additionally, the response of our customers and the flying public to the larger, dimmable windows on the 787 has been very favorable. As always, Boeing works with its customers on an ongoing basis to understand new requirements and offer solutions.”

I have had the opportunity to be on the 787 quite a few times and flew on it for a 90 minute flight. Although I have not been in it with all the windows dimmed and the lights off, I have been in it with the lights on while the windows were dim. It might not have been as dark as your standard long-haul cabin for sleeping, but it was surely dark enough to get sleep and it seems this whole situation is more about mis-communication than it is about people being unhappy about the windows.

ANA reached out and explained that they previously worked with Boeing, well before delivery, on issues of the 787’s window dimming level. The airline felt that the windows did not darken enough, so an extra film was placed between the three layers of glass. It was, “Something ANA engineers and Boeing decided together in order to provide the best cabin experience to our passengers,” Gunji explained.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
Updated: United Airlines Plans to Take Delivery of Their First 787 in September

There is a solution – use another type of dimmable window – one that goes opaque. On an aviation forum this video was posted: This window also dims instantly, rather than taking a minute and a half like the 787 window.

John Clusen

This is a confusing situation.

Window shade in the lavatory? For privacy? Do they think someone will be looking in?

Didn’t you ever see the classic Twilight Zone “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode? I’d definitely want a shade for privacy in the can.

Andrew Boydston

ANA didn’t cry “Wolf”, the press has gone to great lengths to run this story way beyond the window shade department into screaming “fire” in the theater. ANA is starting to blush because they did not clarify how making a minor improvement in a perfect 787 world. After all its not a cracked wing.

Just one more proof that one should not necessarily read everything that one reads. The ‘auto shade’ feature of the B787 works justs fine. I find it nearly impossible to believe that our Boeing friends would introduce a feature like the ‘auto shade’ without extensive testing. They are exceptionally bright folks (often in need of a little shade)and they would not use the feature if it did not work. Whoever dreamed up t his issue is just full of it.

P.S. Thanks for updating your Blogroll. Some of those were a bit stale.


Let’s start at the beginning. ANA issued a less than clear statement with the inclusion of a rogue word: “…dimmability was exceeded expectations while a further 38 per cent said it fully met” does not help to ensure perfect understanding. Perhaps it started as “… was better than expected” before being PR’d up to “exceeded expectations” without being properly redrafted – and we’ve no way of knowing what subjective expectations passengers had (any more than we know what the questions were or how many passengers failed to reply). Either way, it remains true that if 38 percent said something was “fully met,” then for the remaining 62 percent this was evidently not the case. Ergo, a commentator can suggest the expectations of five out of eight interviewees’ expectations were not fully met, and it’s impossible to argue. Certainly if ANA engineers had previously asked for increased dimming then doubt begins to enter one’s mind, especially as there is no suggestion that the quoted and named ANA PR person did not say the carrier wanted darker windows; nor did Reuters say ANA was “working with Boeing…”. All of which is compounded by a Boeing non-denial denial, which does not say that the manufacturer will not consider optional shades or increased dimmability. If it is light enough to see, watch this space for developments; 787 passengers ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, but perhaps in future they might be able to!

What? I guess all AvGeeks hava a few OCD traits at times, but I’m thinking that this might be a little overkill. Is it time to change therapists? That much over a window shade? Ouch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *