The seat belt sign is one of the more important safety notices on board an aircraft. You need to wear it during take off and landing, which are statistically the most dangerous parts of the flight.
Crews also advise you to always wear it while seated in case of unexpected turbulence. There have been instances where people have been injured when not wearing their seat belts. Despite this, I have noticed a trend of people ignoring the seat belt sign.
Ignoring The Seat Belt Sign
When flying around the United States, I have noticed the pilots are particularly trigger happy when it comes to switching on the seat belt sign during the cruise. The slightest hint of turbulence gets that sign turned on and fast.
My suspicion is this is due to the litigious culture in the USA. Turning the signs on fast means that if anyone is injured, the airline won’t be at fault because that sign was on.
People are increasingly ignoring the seat belt sign, usually once the cabin crew are up out of their seats. If a pilot leaves the sign on and the crew are bustling about, people who need the toilet just get up and go. No-one stops them.
I’ve seen this happen on many airlines around the world. At most, the cabin crew will point out that the seat belt sign is on and ask the person to make it quick or to be careful. Stupid people who get up during final approach or while climbing are rightly told to sit back down.
Most adults are perfectly capable of doing a risk assessment when it comes to the seat belt sign. When the cabin crew are walking around, it is probably okay to head off to the toilet if you’re desperately needing to, even if the sign is on.
If the cabin crew have been told to sit down or are sitting down, your best bet is to stay put. It would be interesting to know what flying conditions mandate the sign being on, because it seems to vary from pilot to pilot. My guess is that it’s a judgement call.
Considering it is recommended, I tend to keep myself strapped in for the whole flight, albeit loosely. What do you think of this? Are pilots too quick to switch the sign on? Should people follow it or use their own judgement? Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.