If you fly regularly you may be tempted to skim the in-flight magazine or plug in your headphones, rather than follow the safety briefing carried out by cabin crew before take-off. That's a mistake. Passengers really should pay attention to any pre-flight demonstration, whether run as a video or conducted live by crew.

Briefings are specific to the type of aircraft you are on

It is unlikely you will be sitting in exactly the same seat as on your last flight, so it is important to understand where your nearest emergency exits are. 

  • Long haul flights will use a significantly larger aircraft, with a more complex cabin layout, than those used for short-haul. 

  • Knowing how to quickly and efficiently exit the aircraft will help you and your fellow passengers.  

Flying is of course the safest form of travel and the overwhelming majority of frequent-flyers will never experience any kind of safety incident. But this level of safety is built upon an understanding of the risks that exist and then dealing with them in advance. Aviation's safety culture has at its heart a range of detailed procedures that should be followed in response to any unplanned situation - procedures which have been developed over many years based on experience and research.   

If the aircraft captain determines that an evacuation is required, this decision is not taken lightly, but only after assessing the circumstances and following all appropriate procedures.  The reason for an evacuation may not always be immediately apparent, however this does not mean there is time to retrieve hand-baggage from overhead-lockers and then try to find the nearest exit.

Safety first

The pre-flight safety briefing has only one aim, to keep passengers safe. Airline cabin crew work very hard practising and perfecting safety procedures. These include supervising emergency evacuations, fighting fires and providing immediate medical care to passengers who are unwell. Their professionalism and dedication will make all the difference when called upon. 

So, when the briefing begins please listen up.


David Roberts 3 years ago / Reply

Has any thought gone into the provision of locking devices on overhead lockers within the passenger compartment,please?Perhaps 'g' switch activated with alternative cabin crew control.This would prevent passengers grabbing their belongings in an emergency situation despite,or in spite of,the pax briefing.There is I'm sure a natural human instinct to do this and could be reinforced by seeing one or two others do this.Medicine and passports could be kept on the person.

Simon Wells 3 years ago

While the suggestion of automatically locking overhead lockers is an interesting one, there are a number of reasons why its implementation is not as straightforward as it sounds. These include, but may not be limited to, the potential that passengers may still try and open locked lockers, or put more bags under their seats, both of which could delay an evacuation. Some lockers are used to store emergency equipment, and access to lockers is vital in the event of, for example, a faulty electronic device igniting. As with any mechanical or electronic system, there is also the possibility of failure preventing passengers from accessing their baggage at the appropriate time in non-emergency situations. Any decision to mandate such a system would be the responsibility of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), who set the regulations in this area, and they would need to weigh up the potential safety benefits against any related negative impacts on safety, and indeed cost.

Edith Armitage 3 years ago / Reply

I would love to hear preflight briefings but have poor hearing and often have difficulty hearing above other people's (bad manners) conversations. Would it be possible to have subtitles on screens during briefings and to make announcements asking passengers to be quiet as others cannot hear if they continue to make a noise?Many thanks

Simon Wells 3 years ago

Where it has been difficult to see or hear any part of a safety briefing it would be quite reasonable and appropriate to raise this with the cabin crew and, if necessary, ask for the information to be presented again. It has become common practice amongst some airlines for the Captain to make an announcement advising passengers of the importance of safety briefings and the need for attention. Although a number of airlines who use audio-visual presentations for their briefings incorporate subtitles or signing, in order to provide for non-language speakers, the visual presentation alone should be sufficient to identify the required information.

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