Turbulence is dangerous and it can come out of nowhere taking passengers and crew by surprise. That’s why airlines tell you — and it’s a good idea — to keep your seat belt fastened even when the seat belt sign is off. And the instruction is to keep it fastened low and tight across your lap.
Here’s Aeroflot flight SU270 from Moscow to Bangkok three months ago:
And here’s Singapore Airlines SQ308 from Singapore – London in mid-2013 where 11 passengers were injured and the plane’s ceiling was covered in coffee.
Three passengers are suing jetBlue arguing that it was negligent of the airline’s pilots to fly into turbulence, and that they failed to turn on the seat belt sign before turbulence struck. For real.
On August 11, 2016 JetBlue Airways B6 429 from Boston to Sacramento hit significant turbulence and the flight made an emergency landing in Rapid City, South Dakota. Twenty four passengers and three crew went to the hospital.
— Air Disasters (@AirCrashMayday) August 13, 2016
There are two lawsuits against JetBlue resulting from the incident. The latest was just filed by two passengers and alleges that the airline “disregarded the threat of a major thunderstorm over South Dakota” and that crew “chose not to advise its Flight 429 passengers to stay seated with seatbelts fastened” before turbulence struck.
“Only after the aircraft had flown into the severe weather did flight attendants announce to the passengers to be seated and fasten seat belts,” the lawsuit says.
The other lawsuit was filed by a single passenger who had gotten up to go to the lavatory and complains that the seat belt sign wasn’t on.
Contra the claims in the lawsuit that the airline was negligent in flying into the storm, the NTSB concluded that the plane encountered turbulence “while maneuvering to avoid convective weather.”
Wear your seat belt at all times while seated, even when the seat belt sign is off.