Airline passengers break the law daily: Are you one of them?

How many times during a flight do we hear “Please keep your seat belt fastened”?   Okay we have all been on that flight where the turbulence seems to keep coming in various waves and perhaps prior to take off the pilot announces it is going to be a bumpy ride.  We are prepared and go easy on the drinks to avoid having to utilize the rest room during the flight.  

Did you know that it is illegal to get out of your seat whilst the sign is illuminated?  

YES it is true.  You can be prosecuted for breaking the FAA Regulations 14 CFR 121.311(f) which requires passengers to wear seat belts when the sign is illuminated.

As a frequent traveler I am a strong advocate to follow the FAA Regulations.  I will never be the passenger who stands up 1 minute after takeoff to get a sweater out of the overhead bin.  Listen unless there is an urgent bathroom need I am not prepared to violate the law.  Safety first.  

While no one has ever been prosecuted for violating this regulation the flight attendants appear to have a general “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” philosophy  on this.  This philosophy seems to take on magical super powers when you are traveling in business or first class; as cabin roaming while the seat belt sign is illuminated is a regular occurrence.  Never directly ask for permission from a flight attendant to get out of your seat for a rest room break as it will conflict with their ability to support the regulation.  However if the flight attendant asks you to return to your seat while you are headed to the rest room you should comply.  You are more likely to be prosecuted for directly disobeying crew member instructions.   

So has anyone else noticed that many long flights reach cruising altitude with a smooth ride yet the seat belt sign remains illuminated.  Why is that?  

  • Did the pilot simply forget?
  • Or does the pilot have no regard that we might need to utilize the rest room during a flight over 4 hours?  
  • Or are the flight attendants trying to manage the crowd by forcing passengers to remain seated?  
  • Or is the airline trying to reduce cost on toilet paper?  

My money is on crowd control management or cost savings for toilet paper.  Let me know your thoughts. 

Seek your adventure!

2 thoughts on “Airline passengers break the law daily: Are you one of them?

  • May 10, 2017 at 12:46

    What is your take on the recent bevy of the violence that breaks out on flights of late? One seldom, if ever, heard of such situations and now they appear to breaking out with far too much regularity?

    While covering one of these incidents, Its was recently stated on ABC Nightly News that once a passenger pays for one’s ticket, the passenger actually rescinds many of her or his constitutional rights during the flight. Is this true?

    Recently, in a discussion of flight issues with a friend, he put the matter in perspective simply by stating, “I remember when flying used to fun!” True enough!

    • May 10, 2017 at 20:15

      The recent events have been most disturbing. The sad reality is that US regulations do not afford many rights for passengers once at the airport. This is unfortunate as Europe has very sensible airline passenger regulations that I have had to utilize numerous times. Flying can still be fun but ideally you are at the front of the plane!


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