Flights see cabin crew instructing plane passengers before and during the journey through the skies. Some of the orders can seem fairly annoying to follow. Seat belts, for instance, are something many fliers are desperate to take off because they find them inhibiting and uncomfortable. However, a flight attendant has revealed the crucial reason why travellers must fasten their seat belt when the sign comes on in the aircraft. It is vital during times of turbulence as not wearing a belt could result in serious injuries.
Former cabin crew member Elliott Hester revealed the alarming consequences of not wearing a seat belt in his book Plane Insanity.
“Imagine you are floating,” Hester wrote. “Released from the grip of gravity, you soar through recirculated airplane cabin air, high above those who were wise enough to heed the captains P.A. announcement.
“You are still clutching a plastic cup in one hand, but the beverage is now dripping from you seat mate’s face. The other hand has released the periodical you’d been reading, bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘in-flight’ magazine.
“You see these images, and more, in the slow-motion, frame-by-frame vision of one who has been forcibly ejected from his seat.
“From this new and unusual point you look around and each glimpses of insanity: a walking cane, minus its owner, hurtling through the cabin; a laptop crashing against a bulkhead; an explosion of peanuts; a sea of twisting heads; overhead bins opening like a chorus of line jaws – ejecting hats, coats and a whole slew of carry on bags.
“No longer do you have to imagine how to would feel to fly. You are flying. You are a virtual Peter Pan – an airborne tourist, caught in the seismic upheaval of midair turbulence.
“This is what can happen when you fail to buckle your seat belt.”
Hester is keen to emphasise the importance of the aeroplane safety feature.
“In-flight turbulence is nothing to kid about,” he wrote. “Our Emergency Procedures & Training report claims that each year, an average of fifty-eight passengers are injured in the US while not wearing their seat belts during turbulence.
“This is the leading cause of injury to passengers and crew in non-fatal accidents.”
Turbulence is graded on a scale of severity: light, moderate, severe and extreme.
Extreme is rare but still not dangerous, although the plane will subsequently be examined by maintenance staff.
Passengers do not need to worry about the plane crashing when turbulence hits, however.
As airline pilot Patrick Smith explained in his book Cockpit Confidential: “A plane cannot be flipped upside down, thrown into a tailspin or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket.
“Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash.”
If you want to limit the effects of turbulence the smoothest place to sit is over the wings, said Smith, it’s “nearest to the plane’s centre of lift and gravity.
Steer clear of the rows of seats at the back closest to the tail as “the knocking and swaying is more pronounced.”
A pilot revealed to Express.co.uk that turbulence should, in fact, never concern fliers.
“In all honesty, passengers should never worry about turbulence,” he said. “The aircraft is designed to take the stress and strain of turbulence. For example, it’s like designing a car with good enough suspension to drive over a rough surface road with potholes.”