"As was pointed out, laser beams spread. It's only a few milli-radians but the wider the beam, the lower the brilliance and the less dazzling effect. The further away the wider the beam and the lower the light intensity again. Inverse square - the effect falls off rapidly."
If I'm reading you correctrly, you believe that there could be no momentary dazzle at all from a laser passing across the pilot's eyes at distance? Because, as I see it (sorry) having spots in one's eyes, suddenly, in the final five or ten seconds before touching a 250-ton aircraft to the ground could be... disconcerting, at best.
You only need enough power to disorient or distract the pilots, not completely blind them.
Also, I don't recall any mention of the timing of these events but, if they took place at night, with the pilots' pupils somewhat dilated from looking at dimly-illuminated controls in a dimly-lit cockpit so as to not affect their night vision, the dazzle-effect from a laser COULD be significantly increased.
"Next, passengers not seeing the effect: The size of the window is irrelevant. Provided you are close enough - e.g. in the window seat your field of view is as good as a forward-looking pilot's. There should be some reports from passengers"
If the idiot with the laser is on the glide path, with the plane coming towards him, then the passengers looking out the side windows - which by definition, are pretty much parallel to the direction of flight and, hence, the laser beam - would be looking PERPENDICULAR to the beam, as opposed to the pilot who is looking basically TOWARDS it. Big difference. As an experiment, if you have a generic laser pointer, hold it perpendicular to your line of sight and shine it at the wall. Can you actually see the beam as it goes through the air? Unless you are in a dusty/smoky room, probably not, because the light is all moving in one direction, and not bouncing out at every angle possible. You generally need to have a fog, smoke, or similar medium to see any "beam" effect, making it unlikely (not to say impossible, but highly unlikely) that the passengers would see anything at all from a laser aimed from the front.
"Third, to actually illuminate a pilot, as has been pointed out you have to be virtually on the flight path. Someone under the aircraft or to the side can't see the pilot and (more to the point) the pilot can't see them, even out of the corner of their eyes."
Pete, the pilots are LOOKING DOWN AT THE RUNWAY ON FINAL APPROACH. Therefore, they are also looking at anybody who is, say, near either END of the runway.
As an example, I would suggest that you fire up Google Earth and look up LAX. The runways at Los Angeles International airport all run, basically, east-west since the prevailing winds come off the land during the day and off the ocean at night. At one end of the runways is the beach (with a parking area), at the other end is the San Diego Freeway, and then a residential area, with lots of windows for stupid people to sit in, looking straight down the runway at approaching aircraft, the flight-crews of which may be looking directly at them on approach.
"Nearly there.... I still don't buy the ability of a person to hand-aim a laser onto a moving target over a mile away for any significant time. It's simply not possible and I defy anyone to prove otherwise. As a benchmark, the moon subtends an angle of 0.5 degree - you can't hand-aim a laser at that for any time, let alone the front of a plane - let alone the pilot's window - let alone the pilot's eye - even for a millisecond, even if they weren't moving."
Again, you ignore the fact that, if the target is approaching the shooter then it is, for all practical purposes, stationary - making keeping the beam on target significantly easier.
I carry a small 15-power telescope - pretty much the highest power scope that I can use hand-held - in my jacket pocket. If I am riding down the highway in a vehicle, I can keep signs over the highway directly in front of me centered quite easily, while looking out the side window at something as we pass it is much more difficult. In the first case the position of the target remains almost constant relative to me, while in the latter it is changing rapidly.