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Safety in the Skies

July 22, 2010

As a travel blog with an eye toward solo travelers, it’s often tempting to focus on safety once you arrive at your destination, but a couple of news items this week serve as good reminders that staying safe and being smart begin well before you arrive at that new, exciting destination.

A United flight earlier this week experienced some severe turbulence, injuring between 20 and 30 passengers, some of whom were seated at the time. However, the article implies that if you weren’t seated with your seatbelt securely fastened, you were guaranteed to get hurt:

Describing the scene on the flight, the Denver Post writes passenger Kaoma Bechaz “said the head of the woman sitting next to her slammed into the side of the cabin, leaving a crack above the window, and a girl across the aisle flew into the air and hit the ceiling.”

Washington, D.C., passenger Deborah Atwood tells NBC Washington: “It felt like I had gone down an elevator shaft and hit the bottom and then came back up. It was a brief 5-second [or] 10-second drop.”

She adds: “If you didn’t have your seatbelt on, you got hurt.”

Some travelers have medical issues that require them to get up and stretch their legs from time to time (like DVT), but I’m always puzzled by those travelers that feel the need to stand up at least five times during the flight to retrieve something from a bag in the overhead compartment. It’s called planning ahead, people! Pack all of the things you think you might need on the flight in a small carryon and stow it under the seat in front of you. Easy, quick access without putting yourself at risk.

I do understand that use of the restroom during the flight is pretty much inevitable during longer flights, but why do some travelers insist on compounding the issue by consuming massive amounts of food and drink before boarding and in-flight?

Don’t even get me started on the people who get up and stand in the aisle to chit chat with other passengers, particularly when the flight attendants are conducting food and beverage service. Seriously.

My favorite comment on the article was this one, from a flight attendant:

When I’m working a flight and the seatbelt sign comes on, normally 3-4 people get up to go to the bathroom. I remind them the seatbelt sign is on and they look at me like I have 3 heads….

It’s true. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes often enough.

More on safety from

On the flipside, news came this week that an Air France flight attendant had been arrested for stealing from sleeping business class passengers. Oy.

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