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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

The Surprising Reason Airline Crews Dim the Cabin Lights (It’s Not to Help You Sleep)


As frequent fliers and anyone familiar with airplane travel are well aware, when the cabin crew dims the lights, it’s a sure signal that your plane is either ready to depart or land. It may be a moment of excitement or relief, depending on how long you’ve been traveling and how excited you are about your destination.

But why does the crew need to dim the lights? This is one of those bits of airplane trivia that might surprise you. We spoke with a former pilot and aviation expert about the real reasons cabin lights are dimmed.

Why do cabin crews dim the lights during takeoff and landing?

Like many hidden airplane features, dimming cabin lights at takeoff and landing is solely a safety precaution. It applies to worst-case scenarios that, admittedly, most of us don’t want to think about while we’re flying. “During dawn, dusk and night, flight crews dim the lights so that in case of an emergency where passengers and the flight crew have to abandon the aircraft, their eyes already are adjusted to the dark,” says Dan Bubb, PhD, a former airline pilot, current associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and expert on commercial aviation and airport history.

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