Airplanes are designed with windows to provide a more comfortable and enjoyable flying experience for passengers. Like the windows in a car or truck, they allow passengers to observe their surroundings while traveling. While some airplanes use traditional pull-down shades over their windows, though, others use tint. Tinted windows, in fact, have become increasingly common in airplanes. When compared to pull-down shades, they offer several advantages.
Tint essentially a layer of a light-blocking film that’s added over the interior surface of an airplane’s windows. Therefore, there’s little or no risk of it breaking. As long as the tint isn’t physically damaged or disrupted, it will remain in place. Traditional pull-down visors, on the other hand, often experience mechanical failure. As passengers constantly pull down and up a visor, some of its components may break. Visitors are typically made of hard plastic, so they are prone to mechanical failure in the form of physical damage.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of tinted windows in airplanes is ultraviolet (UV) protection. There’s UV light all around us. Anywhere the sun reaches will essentially be exposed to UV light. With that said, UV levels are higher in the sky than on the ground. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that UV levels increase by an average of 4% to 5% per 1,000 feet of additional altitude. An airplane flying at 20,000 feet above sea level, for instance, will be exposed to up 200% more UV light than individuals on the ground. Research has shown that exposure to UV light increases the risk of skin damage, corneal inflammation, actinic keratosis and a myriad of other concerning health problems.
Traditional pull-visors are capable of blocking UV light — but only if and when they are used. If a passenger leaves his or her window visor up, UV light will beam through. Tinted windows offer stronger protection against UV light by constantly blocking it at all times.
Some airplanes are designed with adjustable tinted windows. In other words, passengers can adjust their window’s level of tint. Increasing the tint level creates a darker environment by blocking more sunlight, whereas decreasing the tint level has the opposite effect by allowing more sunlight to pass through.
Even when the tint level is decreased, it will still block the UV light. Therefore, passengers will remain protected against the sun’s otherwise harmful UV light. Lowering the tint simply creates a dimmer and darker environment for passengers.