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This is why flight attendants sit on their hands

This isn't just a quirky habit

Flight attendant
Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

If you’ve ever glanced at a flight attendant during takeoff or landing, you might have noticed something peculiar: they often sit on their hands. This isn’t just a funny habit; it’s a safety protocol. Flight attendants sit on hands during these critical phases of flight to keep themselves protected. 

Hilary Clark, director of in-flight services with private jet company Planet 9, tells Travel + Leisure, “It’s a safety position. The reason for this safety position is if an emergency were to occur in takeoff or landing, their head, hands, and arms are already in a slight brace position.”

This position allows flight attendants to maintain proper posture, letting them brace more effectively against the seat. Additionally, it minimizes the risk of injury as the body is more restricted. Flight attendants are trained to be extra aware during the takeoff and landing phases of flights, and assuming this position ensures that they are in the best possible condition to assist passengers if needed. 

Is this position necessary for passengers?

Various passengers on a plane.
Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

While flight attendants sitting on their hands is a specific protocol for crew safety and readiness, passengers are not required to adopt this position. However, there are recommended positions for passengers to enhance their safety during takeoff and landing. Brace positions for passengers often require you to hug your knees or push your arms against the seat in front of you. Passengers should also keep their seat belts fastened and remain seated to ensure that they are secure during these bumpier phases of the flight.

Before taking off, it is important to read the safety instructions for the specific aircraft you are on. It is also a good idea to pay attention to the safety video or safety demonstration given by the flight attendants before takeoff. Taking these steps allows you to be more prepared in case of an emergency.

Flight attendants are always looking out for your safety

Man seated on airplane speaking with flight attendant
Mangkorn Danggura / Shutterstock

Flight attendants are trained professionals whose primary responsibility is the safety of passengers. Their role extends far beyond serving drinks and snacks. Before passengers even board the plane, flight attendants conduct thorough safety checks, ensuring that emergency equipment like life vests, oxygen masks, and fire extinguishers are all in working order.

Before every takeoff and landing, flight attendants also perform a “silent review.” This silent review is mentioned in Airbus’s safety documents, stating, “The silent review is recommended for cabin crew to mentally recall the key aspects of the emergency evacuation procedure while they are seated at their station before each takeoff and landing. This silent review will help the cabin crew to focus and be prepared in case an emergency evacuation is required.”

Flight attendants also undergo regular training to keep their skills sharp and stay updated on the latest safety procedures. So, next time you fly, take a moment to appreciate the meticulous care and attention flight attendants devote to keeping everyone safe and secure.

Amanda Teague
Amanda, an accomplished freelance writer with four years of experience, is a dedicated explorer of both the world and the…
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