Op-ed: Airlines Must Take the Seatbelt Sign More Seriously

I'm a nerd and always wear my seat belt at all times. I have never found a seat belt to reduce my overall comfort. I don't understand why passengers would remove their seat belt for extended periods whilst seated. This is even more important when you want to sleep.

I totally agree that overuse of the seat belt sign causes complacency.
 
I find a lot of airlines are in the middle, who put the seatbelt sign on for turbulence but leave it on for a long time, and the crew are cool with pax walking to the toilets or getting stuff from the lockers.

If the sign is on, it’s on. The minute you treat it as a suggestion it defeats the purpose.
 
I find a lot of airlines are in the middle, who put the seatbelt sign on for turbulence but leave it on for a long time, and the crew are cool with pax walking to the toilets or getting stuff from the lockers.

If the sign is on, it’s on. The minute you treat it as a suggestion it defeats the purpose.
And when it gets used for crowd control during meal times that also extends the unnecessary amount of "on" time.
 
Agree that QF (VA too) use the seat belt sign appropriately, the worst are the north american carriers who are so conservative with it that it gets ignored - particularly on long haul flights where its impracticable to stay seated for long periods of time
 
Like most here I always have my seat belt on unless dashing to the bathroom. And over the blanket if asleep. And it does seem like these issues are where seat belts aren't regularly used.

However, I came to the conclusion on recent MH flights that the seat belt 'on sign' is an excuse for poor cabin service, and the non service of hot drinks. There had not been any turbulence and yet the seat belt sign stayed firmly on after take off. I gave up getting a hot drink after a couple of hours and went to sleep. Woke up hours later and despite no turbulence, still on. I asked for another Hot Drink. Nope. Sign on. When that happened on 2 flights of several hours duration and smooth skies then it worries me about other implications.

And because of the length of time, people were ignoring it. Freely going to bathrooms etc. Walking around the plane.
 
Could not agree more with this! The “cry wolf” phenomenon is unfortunately very common, in my experience particularly in the US and in China but the Iberia example does also not surprise me in the slightest bit.

And yes, Qantas is amongst the best in not leaving it on unnecessarily long if conditions are smooth. So as a result, if that sign goes on aboard a Qantas sign, you know for sure to better buckle up!
 
Great article. I flew on SQ21 Newark to Sing last week, a 19 hour mega journey. It was quite bumpy in parts but the length of time the fasten seat belt sign was on was disproportionate to the turbulence and was therefore totally ignored by crew and passengers alike who continued to move around the cabin throughout. I agree with the Qantas approach. It just makes sense. (And the window shade policy too while I’m at it!)
 
I am also a seat belt nerd and always have it on. I am still surprised once we reach required altitude and the sign goes off, that I still hear a handful of clicks !
I am terrified of turbulence and I travel a lot for leisure. I am probably going to dehydrate myself on my Singapore- Istanbul slight in July so that I can avoid going to the toilet !
I feel for those PAX, I hope they can still psych themselves back on a plane again.
 
I find a lot of airlines are in the middle, who put the seatbelt sign on for turbulence but leave it on for a long time, and the crew are cool with pax walking to the toilets or getting stuff from the lockers.

If the sign is on, it’s on. The minute you treat it as a suggestion it defeats the purpose.
Agree but sometimes the only alternative is to do a Gerard Depardieu or you take responsibility in case of turbulence!
 
The comment in the article

In addition, when the seatbelt sign is illuminated on Qantas flights, all the flight attendants also return to their seats. It sends a very clear message: When the seatbelt sign is on, it’s serious. Buckle up.

... hasn't been the case in a number of my Qantas international flights. Many a time in J I've experienced 'leniency' in being able to get up while the seat belt sign is still illuminated, but always (IIRC) when its been on for a while and the turbulence event had (seemingly) passed by 10 mins or so. I myself recall some times when I could see a FA, signalling to them that I'd like to get up ("fingers do the walking") and they have nodded OK.

I still think Qantas gets it right though - a rule well observed but exceptions allowed.
 
.. hasn't been the case in a number of my Qantas international flights. Many a time in J I've experienced 'leniency' in being able to get up while the seat belt sign is still illuminated, but always (IIRC) when its been on for a while and the turbulence event had (seemingly) passed by 10 mins or so. I myself recall some times when I could see a FA, signalling to them that I'd like to get up ("fingers do the walking") and they have nodded OK.

I still think Qantas gets it right though - a rule well observed but exceptions allowed.
The cabin crew can ring the pilots. They cannot allow an "exception".
Interesting as there is no exceptions. If it's on it's on and must be followed by everyone.
Agreed.
But it isn't because it can be on but the cabin crew are allowed to go about their business.
Not in QF they aren't.

It's interesting that a number of people have commented here about the sign being on, but there being no turbulence. That does not mean you aren't in extremely close proximity to all sorts of weather. It may be that whomever is doing the driving is simply managing to find a good, and smooth, route through the sky. I occasionally wondered if we'd be better off just giving the occasional cloud a bit of a nick, just to remind people. Of course, you never would, as there's always the ones who aren't strapped in, and you can't really control just how much of a nick you might get. From what I recall of the flight that I took the radar image on (posted above) we had the sign on for quite some time, and spent a lot of time with the radar being largely red, but didn't encounter anything all that nasty. But you never really know.
 
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As I tend to sleep facedown when in a lay flat seat, with a seatbelt over my hips I get paranoid my back will be snapped in half in a sudden pitch down scenario as my chest and legs would fly up. I still wear it, but I've always wondered about what could happen in a situation like this. Especially as I've already got a damaged lower back.
 
SQ seems to have "we don't want to scald people with hot water and spill drinks" version of the seat belt sign and then the "this is really serious, cabin crew sit down immediately" version (which may happen with or without the first version happening first). During either passengers aren't supposed to be up and about, but I don't think this is particularly helpful as it does tend to signal to pax that it's OK to move around.
 
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During my last QF operated long haul flight (MEL-CGK), someone got up while the aircraft was on approach to land. Cabin crew seated by door 1L had to yell at them to sit down.
 

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