Pre-flight passenger safety briefings

< [PERRY Melissa J (2009). Pre-flight passenger safety briefings. AviationKnowledge, 2009, page 5. ISSN 1179-6685.] >

A pre-takeoff briefing regarding the safety features of commercial aircraft will be given to airline passengers in the form of a live briefing performed by cabin crew, or as a video shown on the aircraft's in-flight entertainment system, or as a combination of both. Pre-flight passenger safety briefings are required by the international air safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) (Wikipedia, 20092).

The following videos are examples of airline pre-flight passenger safety briefings. These airlines have taken a distinctive, contemporary approach to safety briefings in an attempt to capture passenger attention.

Air New Zealand pre-flight safety video

In this video the presenters' uniforms have been painted on with body paint! (video embedded from YouTube on 8 Sep 2009)

Virgin America pre-flight safety video

Cartoon-based safety demonstration (video embedded from YouTube on 8 Sep 2009)

Thomson Airways pre-flight safety video

The enchantment of kids (video embedded from YouTube on 8 Sep 2009)

Points to remember3


  • Always follow crew members instructions and comply with lighted signs and posted placards on the aircraft
  • Do not smoke inside any part of the aircraft at any time and do not tamper with smoke detectors
  • Ensure that your luggage is not blocking the aisle or an exit
    • Your luggage may be stored under the seat in front of you or in an overhead locker compartment
    • Take care when placing luggage in overhead lockers to avoid injury to yourself or other passengers
    • Take care when opening overhead lockers at the end of the flight as luggage may have moved during flight
  • Keep your seat belt fastened when the seat belt sign is on or while you are seated throughout the flight
    • If you are not in your seat when the seat belt sign is on return to your seat and fasten your seat belt
    • Note how to use the seat belt as indicated in the video or by cabin crew. This often involves clipping the two seat belt buckle parts together to fasten and lifting the buckle flap to release
    • Ensure that your seat belt is snug and fits low across your hips
  • Before take-off and landing ensure that your:
      • Seat belt is tightly fastened
      • Tray table is folded away
      • Seat back is in the upright position
      • Armrest is down
      • Luggage is appropriately stowed away
      • Electronic devices are switched off
      • Window blind is open
      • Legrest (if fitted) is retracted
      • Moveable television monitor (if fitted) is put away
  • Do not use your mobile phone in-flight unless the airline you are flying with allows mobile phones to be used in flight mode.


  • Follow crew members instructions in an emergency. Crew members will brief you on emergency procedures
  • Note the location of your nearest emergency exit
    • Count the number of rows to your closest exit. Note that your nearest exit may be behind you
    • Escape path or floor lighting will help guide you to an exit in an emergency
    • If you are seated in an over-wing emergency exit row familiarise yourself with exit operation
    • Note the operation of aircraft evacuation slides if shown during the briefing. Some pre-flight briefings may not cover evacuation slide use if slides automatically inflate when an emergency exit door is opened or if it is intended that cabin crew will deploy them in an emergency
  • Do not take any personal luggage with you when exiting the aircraft in an emergency
  • Life jackets are located either under your seat or under the centre armrest. Although most aircraft are fitted with life jackets, some airlines use passenger seat cushions as flotation devices rather than life jackets. The life jacket safety consideration may be excluded from the briefing if the aircraft flight path does not travel over or near large masses of water (Wikipedia, 20092).
    • Cabin crew will supply life jackets for infants
    • In an emergency:
      • Remove the life jacket from any packaging
      • Put the life jacket over your head
      • Tie or clip straps together tightly around your waist
    • Do not inflate your life jacket until exiting the aircraft
    • Inflate your life jacket by pulling down on the toggle
      • If the life jacket does not fully inflate after pulling down on the toggle, blow into the mouthpiece to inflate manually
      • The light and whistle attached to the life jacket may be used for attracting attention
  • If an oxygen mask falls from the panel above you, pull it down and place the mask over your nose and mouth with the elastic band around your head
    • Tighten the mask to fit by pulling on the elastic bands
    • Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others
    • Oxygen will flow through the mask even though the bag may not inflate
  • In the event of a crash landing, adopt the recommended brace position. For example, Air New Zealand (20091) suggests to either:
    • Brace on the seat in front of you, or
    • Place your hands on your head with your elbows on the outside of your thighs and your feet flat on the floor
  • Review the aircraft safety card often held in the seat pocket in front of you. This will provide clarification of points mentioned during the pre-flight safety briefing as well as any additional safety information. For example, the aircraft safety card may cover operation of exits, the brace position, the use of life jackets and the use of oxygen masks.
1. AIR NEW ZEALAND (2009). Bare essentials of safety from Air New Zealand (video). Retrieved from You Tube on 8 September 2009.
2. WIKIPEDIA (2009). Pre-flight safety demonstration. Retrieved from Wikipedia on 7 September 2009.
+++ Footnotes +++
3. These points have been summarised from the airline safety videos above and from personal experience as an airline passenger. Differences between airline briefings may occur based on the safety features of specific aircraft and airline regulatory requirements. Therefore you should always pay attention to the particular pre-flight safety briefing of each flight.

Want to know more?

AviationKnowledge - Survive a plane crash
This Aviation Knowledge page provides tips on things you can do before and during an emergency to increase your chances of surviving a plane crash.


Melissa J PERRY (2009). School of Aviation, Massey University, New Zealand (MJPerryMJPerry).


Andrew SCHOOLER (2009). School of Aviation, Massey University, New Zealand (ASchoolerASchooler).
Rachel PATTENDEN (2009). School of Aviation, Massey University, New Zealand (R_PattendenR_Pattenden).

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