Why Are There Seatbelt Demos On Airplanes?

Image courtesy of frankieleon

A seatbelt is a fairly intuitive safety device: insert the flat end into the other piece and you’re secure in your seat — it’s fairly simple. We’ve all snapped one together, whether flying, driving or riding. So with the process likely engrained in our minds, why do airlines continue to include the simple instructions in their pre-takeoff safety demos? 

The simple answer is because when disaster strikes you’re likely to forget simple tasks like how to unbuckle your seatbelt, Airfare Watchdog’s George Hobica recently reported.

Sure, an airplane seatbelt’s “lift the buckle” release system works differently from a standard car belt, but it’s not rocket science — and if you’ve heard the safety demo once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, right?

But, as Hobica points out, when a passenger unexpectedly, and quickly, has to unbuckle their plane seatbelt, they’ll likely reach to their left or right side as they would in a vehicle.

For these reasons, airlines continue to include simple seatbelt instructions in safety demos.

In fact, the Federal Aviation states in a safety advisory [PDF] that an alert, knowledgeable person has a much better chance of surviving any life- or injury-threatening situation that could occur during passenger-carrying operations in civil aviation.

As a result, the FAA requires carriers to provide both oral and written safety briefing cards, including those on how to work a seatbelt.

“Flight attendants or other appropriate crewmembers must brief passengers on the method of fastening, tightening, and unfastening seatbelts,” the advisory states. “They also should brief passengers that seatbelts should be worn low and tight. Passengers must also be informed that their seatbelts must be fastened anytime the ‘seatbelt’ sign is illuminated and should be fastened anytime they are seated. In addition, passengers must be informed that they must obey the instructions of the flight attendants regarding the ‘fasten seatbelt’ signs.”

So while you might be tired of hearing how to maneuver your seatbelt every time you fly, the safety demo is there for a reason.

Of course, requiring flight attendants to demonstrate how to use a seatbelt, doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t have a bit of fun with it.

A Southwest flight crew in 2014 kicked off the demo by exclaiming that watching the seatbelt portion was likely only helpful to passengers who haven’t been in a car since the 1960s.

Another video from a 2009 flight shows the crew demonstrating the seatbelt and other safety features to the tune of a rap.

Why flight attendants show you how to use a seatbelt [Airfare Watchdog]