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SeatbeltDon’t Use the Bathroom When the Seatbelt Sign is On
Tuesday’s tip was to check out turbulence forecast maps before or while you fly to get an idea of if and when your flight will be turbulent. These forecasts are especially helpful when you have access to inflight Wi-Fi, as more current data can help you anticipate when the seatbelt sign will go on—and more importantly, when you need to use the loo.

What I failed to mention Tuesday was that you shouldn’t use the bathroom when the seatbelt sign is on. I know it’s a no-brainer, but there’s a reason airlines try to enforce this policy. Usually, the light goes on because there’s rough air or the captain or first officer could be using the bathroom. It’s really disturbing to see passengers get up when the pilot makes an announcement that there’s rough air ahead and asks the flight attendants to be seated.

I have no idea what these people are thinking—getting up like they’re immune to turbulence (and safety rules—but think about your fellow seatmates. If you’re out of your seat the plane drops (as it can in not even extreme turbulence), you’re going to go flying—and not only are you going to get hurt but so will the person/people you land on.



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7 Comments On "Travel Tip of the Day: Don’t Use the Bathroom When the Seatbelt Sign is On"
  1. Rhen|

    Thank you for your many useful tips–I look forward to them. RE: your bathroom tip about going when the seat belt is on….great caution to consider. However you didn’t mention that with physical functions that can be unpredictable, I am thinking that perhaps some of those who go even with the seat belt sign on have an urgent need to go that they cannot control. Just sayin’ and up for consideration on some of those who go and what to do if you are in the bathroom and the plane encounters turbulence.

  2. Kat|

    Johnny, I have a question. It seems like the seatbelt sign is left on the majority of the time during some of my flights – and I don’t detect turbulence, etc. What is your take on that, please?

    1. Hundredbacklinks

      I’m not a pilot so I don’t want to give a false statement but I’m guessing it’s because there’s reports of rough air in that area.

  3. Ken|

    Foreign airlines know how to use the seat belt sign. They turn it off as soon as possible and only turn it back on when necessary. I don’t know how many US airline flights I have been on where the seat belt sign never goes off. This only encourages the passengers to disregard the sign out of sheer necessity.

  4. SamaraZ|

    As the wife of a pilot I can assure you that the First Officer is the person who turns the seat belt on and off in response to information regarding possible turbulence. However, being human, they quite often forget to turn it off so it stays on unnecessarily. You might ask the flight attendant to check with the flight deck to see if there is more unstable air expected or if the sign was just forgotten. I try to pay attention to the sign but have gotten up to use the restroom because the flight had smoothed out for quite some time and I assumed the light was just forgotten. If you ask to have it turned on while the Flight Attendants are serving, you will probably not get much cooperation as they like to have people seated and out of their way – understandable.

  5. Daniel Kraft|

    I remember one flight between Rome and Lisbon on TAP Portugal where I was seated in the rear lavatory when the seatbelt light came on and the plan began to shake. I sat there cautiously holding on to anything I could until the pilot had leveled out to a safer altitude. Then I opened the door and asked the flight attendants if it was safe to leave. They grabbed me fast and buckled me into the adjacent jumpseat where I sat next to them for another 15 minutes of turbulence. It was a very interesting experience. They told me about a colleague who had broken her leg in an unpredicted freefall over the Atlantic coast off of Africa.

  6. AliceEspai|

    Too true. Sometimes you don’t have to strictly be in a turbulence, but they surely know there might be one. It’s not very comfortable anyway to use the airplane toilet, so if you’re on a short flight try and go before you get on the plane.
    The belt is important, I had a bad experience when flying to Brussels once and I’m not sure if the belt actually helped (I was flying from my seat even with the seatbelt on), but at least it makes you feel that tiny bit more secure while you’re in a panic.