Even though the Boeing 787 has been around for a while now I still go out of my way to book flights on the Dreamliner, especially internationally. Sure Boeing says the lower interior cabin altitude helps you feel better after a long flight, but that’s not the reason I still love the 787. When I like most about the Dreamliner are the windows.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner Features Electronic Dimming Windows
Obviously the windows are larger than a typical airliner, but they also dim electronically to block out sunlight. There’s something so unique about dimming your window instead of using a traditional window shade. Each time I fly on the Dreamliner I can’t help myself and continuously adjust the dimmer switch (sorry neighbor).
See, Boeing installed an electrified gel in the window to block out sunlight. The amount of sunlight that can pass though the gel depends on the amount of electric current running through it. When I first flew on the Dreamliner I noticed even when fully dimmed quite a bit of light came through, but now the windows block out nearly all visible light from entering the cabin. It’s truly one of my favorite innovations in modern aviation.
The only downside to the gel dimming windows is the time it takes to “Open/Close” the window shade. Many complain because shifting to fully dim to fully open takes almost a full minute if not more. Although this is a minor issue, it often means you can’t simply “peek” out of the window shade to see the outside world. The windows all you to see through them when fully dim, but it’s hard to see much.
The above photo is of the 787 window at 50% dimness. Clearly you can still see out, but some exterior light is blocked.
The above photo is mid-flight just after American Airlines received their first Dreamliner. The above window is fully dim, but the windows back then had a green tint which allowed a decent amount of exterior light in.
Cabin Crew Has Full Control Of The Windows
This is why I love the 787 so much! Cabin crews have full control of the window system on the 787. This means early in the flight they can allow passengers to control the windows. Then, mid-flight, the cabin crew can fully dim the entire cabin. On top of that, the cabin crew can lock the windows in the dim or closed position. It works just as child locking windows do on a car.
I love this because one of my biggest pet peeves is when passengers leave window shades open during long haul daytime flights. During a long haul flight on a traditional aircraft there are usually a few passengers who opt to keep the window shade open the whole flight. This lets in a ton of exterior light and often makes it more difficult to nap. The other issue is when a passengers suddenly opens a window shade and thereby wakes up adjacent passengers.
Obviously this is a pretty minor concern, but it’s something I’ve started to notice more and more when traveling internationally. I like how on the 787 the cabin crew can eliminate this issue by dimming the windows and locking them so passengers can’t open them mid-flight.
On my recent flight home from Paris the cabin crew kept the windows dim nearly the entire flight. Even though it was a daytime flight, it felt like an overnight flight and helped me get some much-needed rest before landing in Chicago.
Although the Airbus A380 recently became my favorite commercial aircraft I still love the 787. Since I’m based in Chicago we don’t have access to the A380 on non-stop flights. Whenever I’m looking for long haul fights I always try to fly on the Dreamliner over other aircraft.
I’ve noticed cabin crews don’t bother controlling the windows on domestic flights, but that may have changed since I last flew the 787 domestically. Luckily, I’ll be back on the 787 in a few weeks on my upcoming flight from Los Angeles to Chicago! I can’t wait to fly the Dreamliner again.