Plane passengers to be told to always wear seatbelts after Singapore Airlines turbulence that killed man

3 June 2024, 16:56 | Updated: 3 June 2024, 18:24

Airlines are expected to change guidance on wearing seatbelts and are considering how to encourage customers to strap in for the whole flight even when the seatbelt sign is off.
Airlines are expected to change guidance on wearing seatbelts and are considering how to encourage customers to strap in for the whole flight even when the seatbelt sign is off. Picture: Alamy/Social Media

By Lauren Lewis

Plane passengers will be told they must always wear a seatbelt while flying after a Singapore Airlines flight hit turbulence that left one Brit dead.

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Airlines are expected to change guidance on wearing seatbelts and are considering how to encourage customers to strap in for the whole flight even when the seatbelt sign is off, The Times reports.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore on May 21 dropped sharply from 37,000ft to 31,000ft in just five minutes near Myanmar airspace around 11 hours into its journey.

The turbulence resulted in the death of a 73-year-old Brit, Geoff Kitchen, who died of a suspect heart attack, among dozens of injuries, including six Brits who were sent to intensive care units.

Passengers on board the plane, which was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew, later said those not wearing seatbelts were "launched into the ceiling" during the turbulence.

Last week, Hong Kong’s Greater Bay Airlines said that from May 30 it would require passengers to fasten their seatbelts at all times during flights even when the seat belt is sign is off.

It added, however, that it is not a mandatory requirement but a precautionary measure.

Geoff Kitchen died of a suspected heart attack.
Geoff Kitchen died of a suspected heart attack. Picture: Social Media

Read more: Mother whose two sets of twins died in house fire denies manslaughter and child cruelty

Sir Tim Clark, president of the airline Emirates, told the Times: "We’ve had our own fair share of issues.

"Not as bad as Singapore Airlines, but let’s be quite honest, it’s a real race and the whole industry is now upping in the game with regard to making sure that passengers are strapped in. We are looking at all the protocols."

It comes after a poll on X (formerly Twitter) found 84% of people believe wearing a seatbelt at all times on planes, except when using the washroom, should be mandatory.

The poll by travel journalist Simon Calder was answered by over 4,500 people and only had 15.9% of people vote against forcing passengers to strap in.

Read more: Mother's tribute as baby son and sister killed in horror crash as man due in court

Last week an investigation revealed it was the dramatic change in gravitational force which likely caused the injuries of those on board.

The Transport Safety Investigation Bureau said: "The vertical acceleration changed from negative 1.5G to positive 1.5G within 4 seconds. This likely resulted in the occupants who were airborne to fall back down."

It added: "The rapid changes in G over the 4.6 seconds duration resulted in an altitude drop of 178ft (54m), from 37,362 ft to 37,184ft. This sequence of events likely caused the injuries to the crew and passengers."

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