With our heartfelt condolences to families who have lost their loved ones in airplane accidents, we want to also talk about one simple reality; the importance of obeying rules during a flight.

This, may not be the case with the recent Lion Air crash, but let’s sit and discuss about how important it is to obey the rules on air, including the infamous “Critical Eleven.”

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Critical Eleven

We’ve heard of “Critical 11”. Not the movie, but time referring to the three minutes after takeoff and the eight minutes before landing when the cabin crew is prohibited from attempting to communicate with the cockpit except on matters critical to the safety of the flight and passengers, and the cockpit crew is required to refrain from any activity not associated with the control of the aircraft.

Little did people know that this practice stems from the fact that 80 percent of accidents involving commercial aircraft occur within these two periods, when an aircraft is most vulnerable to many dangers.

And as passengers, it is critical for us to obey the rules.

Let’s take a look at some of the simple, easy to follow rules that you are asked to comply with when flying, and why listening to these rules matters.

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Stay Buckled


Some turbulence experienced cannot be foreseen, so please pay attention when the seat-belt sign is on, and when it is off. Please stay buckled. And we need to discard the idea that being buckled up will slow you down should you need to evacuate It’s much harder to find your way to the exit if turbulence has left you concussed.

Sitting during Taxi, Take Off, and Landing

Even during taxi, there is a chance that an accident could occur. Taxiways can be confusing even for a seasoned airline Captain. The pilots may have to make an abrupt stop, or a sharp turn. Like cars, airliners can have ‘parking lot crashes’ also. Wait until the seat-belt sign is turned off, and the plane is parked safely at the gate to unbuckle your belt, stand-up, and retrieve your luggage. Yes, we all have the time to do so.

Switch off phones and removing headphones

Many carriers still request that passengers turn off electronic devices during certain phases of flight, and also remove headphones from their ears. This is because most accidents occur during the initial phases of flight, or right before landing. Mobile frequencies can lead to a malfunction of the plane’s electronic systems. There is no evidence that this has ever been the case, however, pilots have noted that cell phones transmitting signals can cause audible interference on the aircraft’s radios, likening it to the sound of a CD skipping. This interference, in turn, could potentially block radio frequency for one or two seconds and lead to confusion between the pilots and air traffic control. And, it is important for travelers to be cognizant of what is happening at the moment, with an ability to quickly hear instructions, hence, the rule to take your earphones off.

Bags Stowed


Travelers must stow bags during taxi, take-off, and landing, which is done, once again, for safety. During flight, I have been tripped by crutches, handles of purses, backpacks, legs- you name it. If an emergency was to occur no one wants a quick egress to be inhibited by luggage.

Seatbacks Upright

It is to make your experience one of discomfort, but instead, the airline request this to minimize the potential for injury in the event of emergency. When a seat back is upright there is less distance between one seat and the next, which minimizes the velocity that would be incurred upon impact.

All in all, please remember that safety is the utmost priority. Flight attendants and airport authorities have been trained to be ready for unexpected situations but it important that we work together- travelers and crew to make our office in the sky safe and enjoyable for all.

Travel far, travel well.

(Image credit: iStock and Getty)