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The real reason flight attendants make you open your window shade is kind of scary.

The real reason flight attendants make you open your window shade is kind of scary.

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Have you ever been dozing on a plane as it begins its final descent, only to be jerked awake by a flight attendant asking you to raise your window shade so the bright sun can burn your retinas?

If so, you're not alone—this is still standard procedure during takeoff and landing on most airlines. But the flight attendant isn't doing it just to punish you for asking for an extra baggie of corn chips. Like most of the little annoyances that make flying miserable, this is actually an important safety precaution that could save your life in the event of a horrible accident/fireball.

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