At British Airways it’s recommended that we switch to ‘night take off mode’ where possible around 12 minutes before take off – or as ‘soon as feasibly possible’.
The important thing to remember is that an emergency could take place at anytime on the ground, not just on take off so the sooner we can prepare the passengers the better. On the other side of the scale turning down the cabin lights can pose a health and safety risk, it greatly reduces the crews the crews ability to see hazards or any other objects so there has to be a mixture of both issues, cabin crews visibility and passengers having the lights dimmed for take off for safety reasons.
Sometimes on longer taxis at airports like JFK
and sometimes at LHR
(a taxi of over 20 minutes) we will have two types of dimmed lights, the first stage is aimed at the passengers and where possible the mood lighting comes on, which are normally light, soft colours – which can help relax pax. The lighting at this stage will also assist the cabin crew do any remaining tasks which remain before take off.
As I said before around 12 minutes before take off (we try and keep the minimum to 8 minutes) and we turn the lights to ‘take off mode’ so the cabin becomes darker, and helps passengers see out those windows! Lol
Quite often after landing we will also leave the lights on landing mode, kept on very low, this is to stop passengers from getting up from their seats, and when we arrive into the stand area we then start turning on the cabin lights. Some crew keep the lights on until doors to manual, I don’t like shocking the passengers eyes to much, so I do it around four minutes before arriving at the stand.
Lighting weather its on or off is really important and could help greatly in the event of an evacuation.