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Messages Pilots Send With the Seat Belt Sign

That seat belt sign doesn't mean much to you besides whether you can use the toilet, but airplane crews know what's really behind the signal.

It's not just about takeoff and turbulence.


By Marissa Laliberte, Reader's Digest

A seat belt sign seems self-explanatory enough: Stay seated, and latch your seat belt. Once it’s off, you can feel free to get up and stretch your legs or head to the bathroom. But crew members know the ins and outs of what it really means when that symbol is lit up—and it’s a bit more complicated than you realized.


The plane is taking off soon

Just because you’ve been told to stay in your seat doesn’t mean the flight crew has to—yet. Airlines have their own rules about what the chimes you hear mean, but if you hear two dings, then see the seat belt sign flash, the pilot could be warning the crew to sit down because the plane is about to take off, says former Virgin Atlantic flight attendant Laura Hutcheson tells the Washington Post.


You’re about to land

That same signal the captain uses to communicate takeoff time is also used when the plane is about to land, Hutcheson adds. “It is the final sign from the captain for the crew to take their seats,” she says.


The plane is parked

Ever notice hear a crew member tell you to stay in your seat until the plane reaches the terminal, only to see the seatbelt sign turn off almost immediately? The captain turns the seat belt sign off when the plane is parked, but that doesn’t mean passengers should start getting up, says Hutcheson. “Although the aircraft is at a standstill and passengers believe that it is safe to get up and start getting their bags, the aircraft could still move unexpectedly, which could result in passengers injuring themselves,” she says.
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Travel Magazine: Messages Pilots Send With the Seat Belt Sign
Messages Pilots Send With the Seat Belt Sign
That seat belt sign doesn't mean much to you besides whether you can use the toilet, but airplane crews know what's really behind the signal.
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