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Pilots And The Seatbelt Sign...  
User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 14280 times:

Has anyone noticed nowadays that pilots almost always seem to ignore the seatbelt sign? I was on a 14 hour flight from HKG-DTW last month and soon after takeoff the captain turned off the seatbelt sign. Then, about 30 minutes later he said there were some bumps ahead, which turned out to be extremely weak, and turned back on the seatbelt sign. After these bumps happened, the seatbelt sign remained on for the rest of the flight! There wasn't even any noticeable turbulence. After maybe the first half hour of smooth flight, pax felt free to get up and go to the bathroom, open the overhead bins, walk around the cabin, etc. Isn't this demeaning the importance of the seatbelt sign? What if we really did hit some serious turbulence, and pax were up and about the cabin? Isn't this even more unsafe than turning the seatbelt sign on and off so that we take it seriously? Anybody else noticed the seatbelt sign being "abused" lately? Maybe this is only an American thing?


The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
39 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15781 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 14289 times:

Quoting Evan767 (Thread starter):
Maybe this is only an American thing?

American pilots do seem to keep the seatbelt sign on more than others, probably due to fear of litigation, but in your case it sounds like he just forgot.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 14227 times:

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
American pilots do seem to keep the seatbelt sign on more than others, probably due to fear of litigation, but in your case it sounds like he just forgot.

I don't know anything about law, but could a pax potentially have a case if he was up during a long flight with the seatbelt sign on because he HAD to use the lav and suffered injuries due to sudden severe turbulence? Couldn't he claim the pilot had knowledge that the air was smooth the rest of the time yet he kept the sign on?



The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
User currently offlinemjzair From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 401 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 14108 times:

I think pilots pay about as much attention to the seatbelt sign as passengers do.

User currently offlineiaherj From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 677 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 14097 times:

Here's my take. I haven't posted on here in a while. I fly the 757 and 767 and on long flights like the one you were just on, I try to take several things into consideration. If the flight is going to take place mostly at night(mainland U.S. to Europe) I turn the sign off at cruise if it is smooth. If we encounter or anticipate turbulence, I turn it back on. If all signs are pointing to smooth air for a few more hours after the 1st relight of the sign, I'll turn it off again. It it looks like we are going to be in and out of choppy air, I will leave it on, even if that means several hours of flying with it on. My reasoning, the modern aircraft have automatic announcements when the sign is turned on. I don't want to cycle it all night waking up the passengers who are trying to sleep. I discuss with the FA's that if we anticipate areas of real turbulence, we will give them a call and they will strictly enforce the sign. Otherwise, we have made announcements and if someone gets up and moves around with the sign on, it is at his/her own risk. We don't have too many nazi enforcers at my airline but if we are going to fly through areas of known turbulence, we will inform the FA's to enforce the sign. The last thing anyone of us wants is for a cabin crewmember or passenger to be hurt on our watch. At the same time, we want you to be comfortable and feel free to move around on long segments.

On a long day flight, we will try to keep the sign off as much as possible. What happens sometimes on long segments is multiple seat swaps in the cockpit with augmented crews going on breaks and forgetting to discuss the seatbelt sign with those returning from break etc. I will make an effort to give more thought and discuss seatbelt sign usage more often with the other pilots I fly with in the future.



Actually flown: EMB-120 EMB-145 B717 B737 B757 B767
User currently offlineWNwatcher From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 275 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 14041 times:

Quoting Evan767 (Reply 2):

I would say technically no, because the pax was up while the light was on and the airline has warnings online and on the ticket sleeves releasing them of liability. However, it wouldn't surprise me to see some form of reimbursement to the pax to save face. I flew on DL once during the summer months with slight turbulence. A middle aged pax attempted to get up to use the lav and was confronted by the FA's asking him to return to his seat as the fasten seatbelt light was still on. Just my .02
-Wn



meepmeep
User currently offlineairlinereporter From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 78 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 14002 times:

I have been noticing that passengers don't seem to care at all about the seatbelt sign and FA's don't really enforce it. You might get a secondary announcement about the seatbelt sign, but so many will get up and act like it is not lit.

Pilots are human and probably forgot. Sometimes FA's will remind them, but some pilots aren't so hot on FA's telling them what to do  

David


User currently offlinecopter808 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1105 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 13989 times:

Good post Iaherj. I wish more pilots used the same judgement. What some fail to realize is that overuse of the seat belt sign actually promotes disobeying it. If passengers become accustomed to seeing the belt sign on when the air is smooth, they will be less likely to obey it when it might really be necessary.

I'll admit that I have often got up to use the lav when the belt sign has been on for a while and the air is smooth. However, I ain't a goin' nowhere if I see the FAs are belted in!


User currently offlineKappel From Suriname, joined Jul 2005, 3533 posts, RR: 17
Reply 8, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 13762 times:

Quoting copter808 (Reply 7):
Good post Iaherj. I wish more pilots used the same judgement. What some fail to realize is that overuse of the seat belt sign actually promotes disobeying it.

Indeed. I hardly use US airlines, but the few times I did, they seem to use it a lot more than the European and Asian counterparts. My DL AMS-JFK flight had the signs on almost the entire flight. Result: people getting up when they feel like it. On my other flights (such as AMS-PBM-AMS, MUC-SIN-MUC) it was used much more sparingly (hardly even). The result is quite simply that when it's on, pax stay in there seats.

I realize this is anecdotal, but still...



L1011,733,734,73G,738,743,744,752,763,772,77W,DC855,DC863,DC930,DC950,MD11,MD88,306,319,320,321,343,346,ARJ85,CR7,E195
User currently offlineiaherj From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 677 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 13712 times:

Quoting Kappel (Reply 8):





You are indeed correct and pilots in the U.S. are moving in the direction of their counterparts in other countries in this regard. We tend to be slow to embrace change among our ranks. Funny thing is 30 years ago, we (I use "we" loosely as I was a young child at the time)were very liberal in the usage of the seatbelt sign. The 1980's and the increase in litigation against airlines prompted corporate policy changes that I think "encouraged" pilots to be more conservative in the use of the sign.

[Edited 2010-07-30 11:22:23]


Actually flown: EMB-120 EMB-145 B717 B737 B757 B767
User currently offlinebwaflyer From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 690 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 13524 times:

Quoting airlinereporter (Reply 6):
Sometimes FA's will remind them, but some pilots aren't so hot on FA's telling them what to do  

If the seat belt lights have been on longer than normal, or turbulence has died down, we make a tactful call to the flight deck asking how long the turbulence might continue of if there is some more up ahead as we have a few passengers needing the loo. Either we get told that there are reports ahead of some more bumps, and we let the passengers know, or we've just given a gentle reminder to them that they've forgotten and no egos are bruised!


User currently offlineGT4EZY From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2007, 1794 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 13479 times:

Quoting airlinereporter (Reply 6):
Pilots are human and probably forgot. Sometimes FA's will remind them, but some pilots aren't so hot on FA's telling them what to do

In which case they need to go back for CRM training.



Proud to fly from Manchester!
User currently offlineTravellerPlus From New Zealand, joined Nov 2008, 347 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 13475 times:

This would not happen on Qantas. When the seat-belt sign goes on, the cabin crew have to return to their seats and the service will be paused. The seat belt sign is certainly respected by all crew and passengers seem to pay attention to it. This contrasts to other airlines where the passengers seem to be up and about regardless of whether the sign is on or off.


What goes around comes around....unless your luggage is not on the carousel...
User currently offlineflyfree727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 666 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 13462 times:

Quoting Kappel (Reply 8):
. Result: people getting up when they feel like it

And thats any different than what?

passengers seem to do this anyway.. I think it hysterical when the capt turns on the seatbeal sign and an announcement is made, then a passengers gets up for whatever reason.... When I advised the passenger the sign has just been turned on and an announcement was made to remain seated, I kid you not, MOSTLY the response is "oh I'm used to turbulence."

AA ORD


User currently offlinetype-rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 13436 times:

I think part of the reason is F/A's don't like people milling about the cabin. Since 9/11 it makes them nervous. What they really want is people to sit and their seats and shut up. People milling around on a narrow body aircraft also makes beverage service more difficult.

User currently offlineWNwatcher From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 275 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 13415 times:

Quoting flyfree727 (Reply 13):

Wonder if any of the Injuries from that UA 777 that diverted to DEN said that just before the incident.



meepmeep
User currently offlineGT4EZY From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2007, 1794 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 13349 times:

Quoting type-rated (Reply 14):
I think part of the reason is F/A's don't like people milling about the cabin. Since 9/11 it makes them nervous. What they really want is people to sit and their seats and shut up. People milling around on a narrow body aircraft also makes beverage service more difficult.

It makes little difference whether it's a widebody or not, service is usually undertaken on both aisles simultaneously.



Proud to fly from Manchester!
User currently offlineNASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1316 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 13271 times:

Quoting airlinereporter (Reply 6):
I have been noticing that passengers don't seem to care at all about the seatbelt sign and FA's don't really enforce it. You might get a secondary announcement about the seatbelt sign, but so many will get up and act like it is not lit.

What I've gathered is that FA's don't usually enforce the rules unless absolutely necessary (ie in moderate to severe turbulence) where everyone's safety is most likely in jeopardy because of loose objects (including people). We are to inform pax of lighted signs in case they missed it. Personally, I don't like the idea of policing my customers. So, when someone asks me if they can get up when the seatbelt sign is on, I politely inform them that it's on and that's usually the end of it. Oftentimes they get up anyway, and sometimes they will ask "Well, what does that mean? Can I get up or not?" At that point, I just let them know if the sign is illuminated, I cannot give someone permission to get up. However, I'm no linebacker, and I'm not going to tackle them to the floor until they seat themselves, either  .

Besides safety, the idea of FAs informing passengers of the seatbelt sign is a liability issue. If, for example, someone asked me if they could get up, and I said "Sure!" (while the seatbelt sign is on), and they got injured, they can easily claim that it's the airline's and my fault for allowing them to get into such a compromising position. They would win, and both the airline and myself would land in some hot water with the FAA. Instead, by informing them that the sign's on, they can make that call for themselves. If they ignore it, then the liability to themselves or others becomes their potential problem.



Fierce, Fabulous, and Flawless ;)
User currently offlineKappel From Suriname, joined Jul 2005, 3533 posts, RR: 17
Reply 18, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 13249 times:

Quoting flyfree727 (Reply 13):
And thats any different than what?

Different than what I see on the other airlines I travel on (KL, LH, CX, etc). The seatbelt sign is respected by crew and pax on those airlines. It is also rarely illuminated, only when there really is turbulence.



L1011,733,734,73G,738,743,744,752,763,772,77W,DC855,DC863,DC930,DC950,MD11,MD88,306,319,320,321,343,346,ARJ85,CR7,E195
User currently offlinesandroZRH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 13225 times:

You probably won't believe it, but sometimes we simply just forget. Yes, pilots DO forget things  

This is when we rely on the cabin crew to make us aware, as they're more likely to spot it. And if you notice the seatbelt sign being on without good reason, why not just ask a cabin creew member so they can tell us?

It's often the case that when we do hit turbulence, we're busy trying to climb through them, circumnavigating CBs or doing other things that require our attention trying to avoid or get out of areas of rough air. That's often why we tend to forget about the seatbelt sign and we're more than happy if somebody makes us aware.

I'm not saying that's a good thing though, as the seatbelt sign shouldn't be on without good reason. If it happens on a regular basis, people will indeed start to ignore it (too many passengers already do, unfortunetely).


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6407 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 13219 times:

Personally, I have seen lots of overzealous fasten seat belt sign usage on domestic flights lately (where, it turns out, the light could have been turned off).

People do have to get up to use the bathroom, you know...

I think what pilots are risking is that people are going to start ignoring the sign altogether. F/A's seem to have a "who cares" attitude about the state of the seat belt sign lately I've noticed.

  



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineNASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1316 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 13165 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 20):
Personally, I have seen lots of overzealous fasten seat belt sign usage on domestic flights lately (where, it turns out, the light could have been turned off).

It can happen, but as sandroZRH mentioned, it's not usually intentional. If I notice that the sign is on for long periods of time - and in smooth air - I will ask up front if it's ok to turn it off.

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 20):
F/A's seem to have a "who cares" attitude about the state of the seat belt sign lately I've noticed.

It's really not so much about "who cares" as it is about treating people like adults - at least, from my perspective. It's almost like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. If I were to be more aggressive with enforcing the obvious, then the FA-bashers come out of the woodwork screaming "See! This is why we hate FAs from the US! They're so mean!" If I don't say anything, then people come out saying "Gosh, you seem very lax about the safety of your customers". Which is it? If you're an adult, and I say "Sir/Ma'am, please be aware that the seatbelt sign is on", exactly what else do you want me to say? As an adult of sound mind, one should easily decipher that as "You should be seated with your seatbelt fastened". If I'm in the galley, and someone approaches the lav when the sign is on, I simply inform them of such. If they ignore it, it's on them. If they go back to their seat, well, they're respecting the rule.

It's kind of like the cellphone argument. Will one of them disrupt the aircraft's systems? Probably not. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and if I give permission for one person to use theirs, then I'd have to grant everyone else the same courtesy - contrary to the rules. While conducting compliance checks, I will ask people to turn off their cellphones, but I won't hover over them like a schoolteacher to make sure they're doing it. We're adults; I shouldn't have to ask you more than once. Heck, if an announcement has been made, I shouldn't have to ask at all...but I digress...

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 20):
People do have to get up to use the bathroom, you know...

Of course! Which is another reason why I don't hound customers about the seatbelt sign, unless of course it is obviously dangerous for them to be up and about (ie noticeable turbulence or prior information from the pilots about upcoming turbulence).



Fierce, Fabulous, and Flawless ;)
User currently offlinesandroZRH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 13026 times:

has it ever occurred to anyone that's it's not that easy to predict turbulence in the first place? Say you're approaching an area of high winds or an area with CB activity. Some light shaking begins, it seems getting rougher as we proceed. What are we gonna do? Will I rather switch on the seatbelt sign and have everyone sit down even if it might not gonna be necessary or will i risk having people and trolleys fly around in the cabin, posing a hazard of injuries? I had the latter happen, and I's no fun. So naturally I'm going to switch on the seatbelt sign.

Yes, we do have turbulence charts, but they're generally not very reliable. Yes, we're asking ATC about turbulence reports, but even so turbulence may happen unexpectedly (I know, everyone has heard that a hundred times, but it's true). We're trying to be cautious. Another fact that should be noted is that turbulence feels very different up front than it does in the cabin. turbulence feels a lot worse in the back than it does up front, that's especially true for long narrowbody aircraft like the A321. often we'd have a flight attendant call us asking to switch the seatbelt sign on, despite us thinking "hmm, it's not that bad really, is it?". This will make us even more cautious as it's hard to guess how it's being felt in the back.

I'll say it again, switching or rather letting the seatbelt sign switched on for no apparent reason is not a good thing, but I think people should be a little more tolerant, and by all means SIT DOWN AND BUCKLE UP when the seatbelt sign is being switched on. We're certainly not switching it on for fun.

edited for typos.

[Edited 2010-07-30 15:21:41]

User currently offlinestratosphere From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1653 posts, RR: 5
Reply 23, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12895 times:

I had an issue with an AirTran f/a once. Coming out of RSW to ATL on a 717. Weather was CAVU not a bump or a cloud in the sky. I was needing to go to the restroom bad. Was flying in Biz class and had a few beers in the terminal before boarding now catching up with me. So I waited and held it until I knew we were at cruise level and the light was still on and couldnt wait any longer and got up the F/A's two guys were sitting in the forward jumpseats I went to open the forward lav door and the one F/A takes his foot and blocks the door and says "we are not at cruise level yet". I said I can't wait any longer I said you got two choices either let me by or I am going to let it go right here right on your foot. Needless to say he moved his foot.


NWA THE TRUE EVIL EMPIRE
User currently offlineYYZatcboy From Canada, joined Apr 2005, 1089 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12839 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CUSTOMER SERVICE & SUPPORT

A couple of times I've been in the Jumpseat and the FA called up to ask if we could turn off the fasten seatbelt sign. Both times it was left on deliberately because we were flying just over the top of Cumulus clouds and there were some rough patches. As soon as we were clear it was turned off. If the pilots do forget, usually the FA will call up to check what's going on.


DHC1/3/4 MD11/88 L1011 A319/20/21/30 B727 735/6/7/8/9 762/3 E175/90 CRJ/700/705 CC150. J/S DH8D 736/7/8
25 Post contains images JBirdAV8r : Spoken like a true diplomat. That's the way business should be conducted, IMO.
26 Post contains images einsteinboricua : One difference. If the pilot leaves it on, he can't be blamed for any injuries. After all, "federal regulations require all passengers to comply with
27 EdIcHc : I love that one! I think you have a point there!
28 EdIcHc : Now that is what I call good CRM. If I were a junior first officier and not a PPL student, I would wan't to fly with a Capt like you.
29 pilotpip : This year, at least in the US, particularly this summer, has been rough. I've been a bit overzealous with the use of the sign and so have a number of
30 hugoandres1984 : we use seat belt sing for take off and landing until 10000feet, before enter a cloud or when thermals and CAT are moderated
31 musang : Couldn't agree more. Another essential is that each time the sign is switched on, if there's no obvious reason (e.g. turbulence already started), a s
32 EK773 : Some people also seem to think they are exempt because they are in first or business class. Safety affects everyone regardless of where you sit or ho
33 thrufru : Keep in mind, though, that in the US, the flight attendants are permitted to be out of their seats when the seatbelt sign is illuminated. If more tha
34 Bennett123 : Personally, sitting in the back, I take it that the sign is lit for a reason. I also take a leak before boarding anyway. However, perhaps those up fro
35 Post contains images Parton87 : I flew with a SK 737 last week and the seat-belt sign was turned off two minutes into flight. I often fly on domestic flights with turboprops here in
36 copter808 : This is one of the problems. The SB sign should be for the pax/crew safety. If it's smooth enough for the FAs to be up and about, it should be smooth
37 NASBWI : Not necessarily; when the seatbelt sign is switched on for whatever reason, the crew may have to walk the aisle to conduct a compliance check (to ens
38 Post contains images hamad : A lot of times, if me or any of my colleagues see that the sign has been on for a while, we will either call or visit the cockpit. however, many time
39 Post contains images SQ_EK_freak : This way the passengers actually respect when the sign is illuminated. And as several pilots have noted already on this thread, sometimes they are bu
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