Passenger safety briefings: why, when and how

Review what to include in passenger safety briefings and how to address common issues than can arise.

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Why brief passengers

Safety briefings explain where to find and how to use emergency equipment passengers may have to operate. In an emergency, a well-briefed passenger will depend less on crew members and have a greater chance of survival.

When to do a briefing

Each time your plane carries passengers.

Make sure a passenger with special needs receives an individual safety briefing. Examples include visually impaired passengers, hearing-impaired passengers and adults with infants.

How to make your briefings effective

What to include

Each briefing should address:

  • boarding
  • baggage limits and where to stow baggage
  • how seat belts work
  • the importance of using shoulder harnesses (if your plane is equipped with them)
  • how to secure seat backs
  • how to know where you are in the plane no matter its position:
    • Find the exit in relation to your left or right knee
    • If the exit is on your right while you’re upright, it will still be on your right even if the aircraft lands or comes to rest in another position
  • how to use exits
  • where to find the emergency locator transmitter, survival kit, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and any other safety equipment
  • rules about using electronic devices (tablets, cell phones)
  • where to find and how to use life preservers:
    • Show how to put a preserver on and inflate it, and explain when to do this
    • Wear it, but never inflate it in the aircraft
  • rules about smoking
  • how to exit a plane when under water (underwater egress)
  • what happens after takeoff
  • what to do during in-flight turbulence
  • how to exit the plane safely (passenger deplaning)

Know these topics

How to exit a plane when under water (underwater egress)

Always review underwater egress with passengers. Give these instructions:

  • Try to remain calm
  • Take a deep breath prior to going under water
  • Open your eyes
  • Orient yourself in relation to your nearest emergency exit
  • Get a firm grip on a fixed reference point
  • Wait until the water has filled three-quarters of the cabin before you fully open the exit, then open it
  • Release your safety harness
  • Pull yourself free from the cabin
  • Inflate your life preserver after exiting the aircraft

Solutions to common problems


  • You don’t have a public address system
  • Cabin noise makes it impossible for passengers to hear
  • Short flights leave no time for in-flight briefing

Solution: do the entire briefing before engine start-up. For example, before you fly, tell your passengers that they:

  • must have their seat belts fastened during takeoff, landing and turbulence
  • should always use their shoulder harness (if there is one), and
  • should keep seat belts fastened during the cruise portion of flight

Problem: Passengers seem uninterested.

Solution: make the briefing informative and interesting. Face your passengers, establish eye contact and speak at a slower-than-normal rate.

Problem: Passengers ask you to skip the briefing.

Solution: say no. Frequent fliers may not know that equipment can be different on the same type of aircraft. Not only does a safety briefing ensure your passengers know what’s expected of them, it’s the law.

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