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redcenterflyer
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Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:21 am

I've wondered this for many years, having lived now in Australia for the past 20. When I fly in the USA, the seat belt light stays on until cruising altitude. It gets turned back on at the top of decent. Having flown in Australia the past 20 years. The light is switched off even as early as 2 min after take off and back on at a very low altitude. Is this a US regulation for that to happen in the good ol' USA? Its been a while since I've flown in South East Asian countries, so I don't recall what they do there.. Just curious. Thanks!
 
hz747300
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:33 am

When I lived in Australia on Virgin and Jetstar, where I took most of my domestic flights, it wasn't 2 minutes after takeoff, but it was not at the top of cruise either.

For Cathay Pacific, in general, it stays on until the top of cruise, or at least 25-30k feet provided the flight is smooth though there may be a little more climbing. It comes back on about 15-20 minutes prior to landing, around 20k feet. The process is at the 30 to go minute mark, the captain makes an announcement on traffic and weather, then says "FAs 30 minutes to landing". When 20k feet is hit, the seatbelt sign dings on, and the PM says "FAs please prepare the cabin for landing".

In the US, what I don't like is that they don't turn off the seatbelt sign, everyone ignores it, so there is no real sense of the requirement to remain seated or did they just forget? It's not on the checklist so it is reasonable to assume that they don't remember until an FA calls the front.
Keep on truckin'...
 
BAINY3
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:43 am

In my experience in the US, around 20-25K is common for both turning it off during climb and turning it on during descent.

My main gripe in the US is this common situation: light is off at cruise, mild turbulence happens for ten seconds so they turn the light on. Turbulence stops a minute later but the crew then forgets the sign was turned on and it stays on for an hour even though everything else is super smooth. (I'm not talking about the times they turn it on preemptively due to forecasted turbulence, but instead just when there are some unexpected bumps.)
 
Cactusjuba
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:59 am

First, below 10k on departure not even the flight attendants are up. After they get the ding, if it’s smooth the flight attendants will usually still appreciate a few minutes to get free and set up before everyone is up and entering the aisles. But mostly, it’s a pain to turn the seatbelt sign off and on, again and again with the associated announcements. So it’s not coming off at 10k unless it’s known that it will be smooth all the way up to cruise and thereafter. It’s just more efficient to wait until cruise if there is any reasonable doubt on the rides.
 
redcenterflyer
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:20 am

today, flying mel to asp, it was 2min 20 seconds after wheels up.. Set my timer. Into Asp, It was about 7 min out when seat belt light come back on.. Nice to have plenty of time to finish up what you gotta finish up on (loo, putting things away, ect). was just curious is all.. Thanks for the replies!
 
AA737-823
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:23 am

Oh man, you've hit on my biggest pet peeve.
Yes, here in the USA, it's INSANE.
They hold us hostage with the seatbelt sign.
And if you get a particularly grouchy cabin crew, they'll yell at you for getting up while it's on, even if it's been on for four hours on a perfectly smooth IAD-LAX transcon.
I don't think I've seen it come off before top of climb for at least the past 15 years. And it's usually on at top of descent.

It makes me insane.
I just took a trip to/through Asia on Air China, Singapore, and Qantas. And each of them had the sign off once we hit the 10,000 foot double-ding.

But this being A.net, as you can see, instead of anyone discussing your question, you're just going to get people arguing with you over the definition of "two minutes."
:roll:
 
TTailedTiger
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:27 am

We had some excellent pilots on my last flight. As soon as the MD-88 passed through 10,000 FT the seatbelt sign went off and stayed off until descent. That's the way it should be. I was surprised but pleased since Delta pilots are known for turning on the seatbelt sign at the slightest hint of rough air.
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:30 am

Are Australians likely to sue an airline if they are injured in turbulence? This may be the issue at hand.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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vahancrazy
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:32 am

Since you wish to compare: in Europe I would say belt are turned on 15-20min before landing when the airplane starts to descent.

After take-off it is a few minutes?.. maybe 3-5?!
 
san88
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:40 am

Been with a major airline in the cabin for 11+ years. I use my travel benefits extensively and blessed to traveled the world on my time off. Here are my observations: in the US, the seatbelt sign is usually off at cruise but we are sticklers and it’s quite often on, with an abundance of announcements. In Europe, it’s much more laxed and the seatbelt sign is off often after 10k feet with minimal announcements. Asia is somewhere in the middle.
sit on the Captain side when you fly into SAN
 
zakuivcustom
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:57 am

DocLightning wrote:
Are Australians likely to sue an airline if they are injured in turbulence? This may be the issue at hand.


This I feel like is the main issue. On all my UA long-haul flights, a single slight bump and the seat belt sign turns on. CX usually wait for a few minutes, and when I flew WW they don't turn on the seat belt sign unless it starts to get really bumpy for like 10 mins.

At least it's not mainland Chinese airlines, who often just keep the seat belt sign on the whole flight (and being Chinese, nobody will follow that).
 
Yossarian22
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:58 am

I have found in recent U.S. domestic flights, that usually the seatbelt sign is turned off after 10K, but before the end of the climb.

Years ago when I flew TK round trip between ORD and IST, both ways the Captain never turned off the seatbelt sign. Last spring on an MU flight from PVG to HNL, the Captain also did not turn off the seatbelt sign for the entire flight. That is the worst, as the seatbelt sign is essentially useless.
 
zkncj
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:05 am

DocLightning wrote:
Are Australians likely to sue an airline if they are injured in turbulence? This may be the issue at hand.


Totally you can sue in Australia - but its far more of an effort than in USA so not many people do.

It all comes down to different countries rules and airline rules, for example in New Zealand its pretty common on short-domestic flights for the crew to be up 60seconds after take off getting the trolleys ready to come out for drink service, followed by 2-3minutes later the seat belt sign. Then at the end of the flight pretty much the crew are up until the landing gear is lowered.

Probably helps that you can't sue in New Zealand...
 
peanuts
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:18 am

I prefer the US method. It keeps the aisle a lot calmer and allows the cabin crew to do their beverage service.
If need be, the small bladder person can always go. No biggie.

Speaking of "safety issues" and the cultural ironies of it all...In Europe they are sticklers at chairlifts in the mountains in requiring to lower the bar. In the US most Ski resorts don't care if you use the safety bar or not...go figure.
 
travaz
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:35 am

I just did LAX SYD on AA. We left LA and all the way to SYD I would have to say it was pretty smooth, Having said that everytime we hit the smallest bump on it would come. We would get maybe 30 seconds of the slightest bumps and the seatbelt sign would stay on for 30 or more minutes. The flight is 14 to 15 hours long so it was irritating to get woke up by the seatbelt announcement. We were a good 40 minutes out of SYD when the Captain put the seatbelt sign on "for our descent" The entire plane and cabin crew ignored that as many people who were sleeping now had to use the head. Seems pretty pointless if your not going to enforce the rule. We never got a bump all the way into a spectacular turn over the harbor to land. One other point that irritates me is they blacked out the windows (787-9) 15 minutes out of LAX and never cleared them until we were 15 minutes out of SYD.
 
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DocLightning
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:39 am

zkncj wrote:
DocLightning wrote:
Are Australians likely to sue an airline if they are injured in turbulence? This may be the issue at hand.


Totally you can sue in Australia - but its far more of an effort than in USA so not many people do.

....

Probably helps that you can't sue in New Zealand...


It might be that US carriers are a bit more litigation-cautious than foreign carriers. In the U.S. people sue all the time. I can sue you because it's Friday.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
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AirlineCritic
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:44 am

Crowd control at the expense of the customers, with no real safety reason. Keep everyone seated, staff has it easier when there are no customers moving around, you may even delay or skip service, and of course one could argue there's a reduced the risk of lawsuit to the airline. For the customers, not so good. You may have wanted to run to the bathroom because you're not feeling so well. You may have wanted to take that laptop out of your bag to work. You may have wanted that jacket from the bag that now became necessary after they froze the cabin. Etc.
 
Flow2706
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:18 am

Just to give a pilots perspective on the issue...if turbulence related injuries occur and the sign was off there is a good chance to get into legal trouble. Therefore some people prefer to have it on if there is a slight chance of turbulence. Usually turbulence is hard to predict. We have Significant Weather Charts (SWC) included in our briefing package and receive also SIGMETs (SIGMETs are issued for reported or forecasted severe turbulence only). However SWCs are really unreliable - you can have an area of forecasted moderate, occasionally severe turbulence and it’s totally smooth, but you can also have a clear chart and be sitting in turbulence the whole flight. It’s not so straight forward in most cases if there is turbulence or how long it will last. Belford entering and area of moderate or severe turbulence you sometimes have Tempersture fluctuations but this is not totally reliable either. The best indication are in my opinion turbulence reports by other aircraft on the frequency but they are not always made. Some pilots even jokingly call the seat belt sign the turbulence switch - turn it off and you are guaranteed to get turbulence a few seconds after, turn it on and the turbulence suddenly stops. That is one of the reasons why passengers are supposed to keep there seatbelt on whenever seated - after all you are flying in a metal tube with 500mph through an atmosphere which is not as predictable as we would whish it to be...an other thing is that on some types it’s hard to judge to level of turbulence experienced in the back of the cabin from the flight deck. Especially on long aircraft (I‘m flying A320 series and it’s an issue on A321s but I guess other long aircraft, like 753/346 could be affected in a similar way) the turbulence level in the cockpit can be very light while if feels like moderate turbulence in the back. That’s also a reason why pilots tend to be extra careful and switch it on earlier as the are worried about the back. I personally mention to the cabin crew during pre flight briefing that they should feel free to ask me to put the seatbelt sign on if the turbulence level in the back becomes uncomfortable and the sign is still off.
Last edited by Flow2706 on Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
bbonacci114
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:19 am

Believe it or not, the seatbelt sign IS for your safety. Some people are saying it gets turned on for the slightest bumps, but turbulence can not be fully predicted (just as most airlines inform you) therefore they would rather you be seated, holding your bodily fluids, rather than thrown around the plane if it got that bad.
 
Virtual737
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:26 am

Pretty uniform on most flights I take nowadays. Cabin crew "ding" is often just a couple of minutes after takeoff with seatbelt sign off climbing through 10000ft and on again at 10000ft on the way down. Isn't thing (the 10000ft on/off) the standard setting for the seatbelt switch in the "auto" position?

Edit - not flown in the US for the best part of 10 years.
Last edited by Virtual737 on Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
spacecadet
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:28 am

AA737-823 wrote:
And if you get a particularly grouchy cabin crew, they'll yell at you for getting up while it's on, even if it's been on for four hours on a perfectly smooth IAD-LAX transcon.


It's not about the cabin crew being "grouchy", it's about you not following FAA regulations. Yes, the FAA requires you personally to sit down when the seat belt sign is on - federal regs don't just apply to cabin and flight crews but to passengers as well. And they also require the cabin crew to tell you to sit down: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/c ... cob228.pdf

"Additional and forceful announcements should be made if passengers stand and the seatbelt sign is illuminated." (emphasis mine.)

I don't like the sign to be on when it seems unnecessary either, and there have been times when I just couldn't hold it anymore and had to get up and use the bathroom. But don't call the cabin crew "grouchy" when they're doing their jobs. They could, in all seriousness, have you arrested if they wanted to. Now *that* would be grouchy. Just telling you to sit down is what they're minimally required to do.
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
cx777fan
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:00 am

One notable aspect of the seatbelt sign in Australia is that it generally applies to passengers and crew. If a Qantas captain turns it on mid-flight, it's usually accompanied by an instruction for crew to take their seats also.

Service norms may be a factor too. A Qantas crew serves a full hot dinner and drinks on a 55-65 minute MEL-SYD or SYD-BNE segment. They need to be released from their seats as soon as it's safe (usually 10,000 feet, sometimes lower by my estimate). Similarly I've often seen the seatbelt sign only switched on as the gear is lowered in final approach. Though of course that's preceded by announcements and checks to secure the cabin much earlier in the descent. The upshot of all of this means that if the sign is on, passengers know it's for real.
 
SurlyBonds
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:07 am

bbonacci114 wrote:
Believe it or not, the seatbelt sign IS for your safety. Some people are saying it gets turned on for the slightest bumps, but turbulence can not be fully predicted (just as most airlines inform you) therefore they would rather you be seated, holding your bodily fluids, rather than thrown around the plane if it got that bad.


Believe it or not, DVTs are a thing, and staying seated throughout an intercontinental flight is arguably a greater risk than getting up when the seatbelt sign has been on for hours and there's no turbulence. (And yes, this happens all the time on US carriers, in my experience. I think it's due to greater litigation risk in the USA.)
 
trijetsonly
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:11 am

In Europe, when having a window seat in the front of the airplane, I mostly notice that the seatbelt signs and the landing lights are both switched off at the same time. That makes me think that they either use the "Auto" function or it's both done together in one reaching up when passing 10.000ft by the cockpit crew.
Happy Landings
 
N757ST
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:18 am

I’m a pilot in the us.

Top of climb off. (Usually, unless around weather)

Through 18,000 on. (This is our SOP)
 
Jshank83
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:29 pm

In my experience in the US it is on until cruising altitude and comes back on when you start to descend (or a little after). But if you are above 10000 and need to get up and use the bathroom the flight attendants usually don't say anything unless it really is bumpy (ie they were told to sit down also). So, it isn't like you can't get up with it on. Just makes you be a little more aware bumps might come.
 
Blockplus
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:35 pm

Also a pilot in the U.S. I turn off at 18000 or when we are talking to high altitude sector on the way up as long as its reported smooth. And 18000 on the way down with a 10 min heads up as long as it is smooth. It is a lawyer light. That is how I think of it and many others. The US has no personal responsibility for anyone, so if you don't tell someone not to do somthing stupid, its somehow your fault. Example: California warns you with a sign not to breath for fear that you will get cancer.
 
smi0006
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:49 pm

cx777fan wrote:
One notable aspect of the seatbelt sign in Australia is that it generally applies to passengers and crew. If a Qantas captain turns it on mid-flight, it's usually accompanied by an instruction for crew to take their seats also.

Service norms may be a factor too. A Qantas crew serves a full hot dinner and drinks on a 55-65 minute MEL-SYD or SYD-BNE segment. They need to be released from their seats as soon as it's safe (usually 10,000 feet, sometimes lower by my estimate). Similarly I've often seen the seatbelt sign only switched on as the gear is lowered in final approach. Though of course that's preceded by announcements and checks to secure the cabin much earlier in the descent. The upshot of all of this means that if the sign is on, passengers know it's for real.


Yup I think this makes it far more effective, if it’s bumpy enough for QANTAS pax, it’s bumpy enough for QANTAS crew to be seated - makes enforcing the rule much easier, and means it’s only turned on when it has to be. How do other carriers manage this, is it up to cabin crew discretion when to sit down? Why don’t they sue too?

There are two types of Qantas PA one made by the CSM/CSS and one by the captain. Different from the prelanding one.

CSM/CSS; As the captain has now switched on the fasten seatbelt sign all passengers and crew must now be seated with seatbelts securely fastened . This indicates cabin crew should return any service items to the galley, stow them, secure the galley and be seated in a jump seat.

Tech crew: All passengers and crew be seated immediately. This indicates crew should attempt to secure meal carts in the aisle and sit in the nearest seat, pax or jumpseat or aisle holding the carts down. Only used in sever turbulence.

Got to be honest - best application of thenwign I’ve seen.
 
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DominikR83
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:07 pm

I`ve flown more than 120 times so far in Europe and the US and so far i can`t remember any big difference regarding when the seatbelt signs are switched off or on.
In Europe they are switched on also relatively often/long.
 
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Super80Fan
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:28 pm

I mean, most ignore it now anyway past 10,000 feet. If you have to go, you have to go.
RIP McDonnell Douglas
RIP US Airways
 
phllax
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:23 pm

cx777fan wrote:
One notable aspect of the seatbelt sign in Australia is that it generally applies to passengers and crew. If a Qantas captain turns it on mid-flight, it's usually accompanied by an instruction for crew to take their seats also.


I think you hit the nail right on the head in that some airlines and or countries have their F/A's tied to the seat belt sign. This is not done in the US.
 
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RyanairGuru
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:18 pm

cx777fan wrote:
One notable aspect of the seatbelt sign in Australia is that it generally applies to passengers and crew. If a Qantas captain turns it on mid-flight, it's usually accompanied by an instruction for crew to take their seats also.


Not 'generally', all the time. If by "Australian airlines" we mean Qantas then this is the reason. I'm not sure why exactly but Qantas has an internal operating procedure that passengers and crew be seated whenever the seatbelt light is on. By turning the light off very shortly after takeoff and turning it back on shortly before landing you are releasing the flight attendants from their seats. CASA do not have a requirement that the light be on below 10,000 feet and it is therefore routinely turned off lower than that altitude and back on again later on the descent.

I have to say that I think it is the smartest way of policing the seat belt I've seen. The sign is illuminated as little as possible, so you have less excuse to ignore it, and when it's on it applies to everyone, which takes away the safety theatre angle. People are a lot more likely to respect the sign than if its on for 30 minutes for no apparent reason.

It's been too long since I last flew Jetstar so I can't remember whether their SOP is the same as Qantas or if they have their own, but Virgin Australia does not have the 'passengers and crew' procedure. They are not so finger happy at turning the light off as the cabin crew are released first. IMHO VA is about on par with European carriers in this area.
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
travaz
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Re: Use of seatbelt light USA compared to other countries

Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:56 pm

Blockplus wrote:
Also a pilot in the U.S. I turn off at 18000 or when we are talking to high altitude sector on the way up as long as its reported smooth. And 18000 on the way down with a 10 min heads up as long as it is smooth. It is a lawyer light. That is how I think of it and many others. The US has no personal responsibility for anyone, so if you don't tell someone not to do somthing stupid, its somehow your fault. Example: California warns you with a sign not to breath for fear that you will get cancer.


I fly PHX LAX/ONT/BUR several times a month. Now I know why the seatbelt sign gets switched on when we cross the Colorado River! :hissyfit: Prolly a Cali Law!
In all seriousness I don't know why anyone would sit in your seat without the belt on. Everyone on a plane would not think of getting in a car and not wearing a full shoulder harness and lap belt. Yet they want to take it off the minute a planes wheels leave the ground.

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