Boeing has gone to extreme lengths to make clear to the flying public how fantastic the experience of flying in its new Boeing 787 really is. The campaign went close to claiming that the manufacturer is actually reinventing flying.
While this is a purely personal view, reality is a little less spectacular. After a 12 hour flight from Frankfurt to Tokyo – currently the only 787 long-haul flight – you still feel tired, although some of the passengers on a recent trip claimed they felt the humidity difference. The 787 is also not really significantly less noisy inside the cabin, depending on where you sit. It is even quite a challenge to have a conversation in the forward bar in between the doors 2, where All Nippon Airways (ANA) has installed a small bar. Sound isn’t absorbed very well in this spot. One aspect that really is different on the 787 is the large windows.
But now this: ANA, the aircraft’s first operator, says the dimming windows that don’t have the mechanic shades that can be pulled down on other aircraft are not dark enough and appears to have asked Boeing to make them darker, according to a Reuters report. It is true that when the aircraft flies during daylight, some light still gets through the dimmable windows. But passengers are still resting as they normally would on a late night flight from Europe to Asia or from North America to Europe. And ANA is concerned its passengers can’t sleep well enough. Airbus has already made the issue part of its marketing for the A350, which will have the conventional shades.
Another argument against the dimmable windows is that it takes quite long for them to get from completely transparent to, well, as dark as it gets. Boeing told Reuters that it does not comment on specifics, but that it has received good feedback from passengers.
It’s too soon to tell whether this will be a broader issue for Boeing and whether it is technically and operationally feasible to make the change. ANA’s local competitor Japan Airlines meanwhile has so far not asked for darker windows.