Your friend pulls up to the departure curb of the airport. It’s been a wonderful visit, but you’re ready to head home. As you grab your belongings and hug goodbye, your best friend wears a warm smile and exclaims, “Have a safe flight!”
You smile back while offering heartfelt thanks. However, the words spin in your mind.
Why do we insist on offering meaningless niceties while saying goodbye at the airport? What does it mean to have a safe flight? Isn’t that more of the pilot’s responsibility than yours?
What Does the Expression “Have a Safe Flight” Mean?
We say “have a safe flight” to wish someone well along their journey. It’s meant as a blessing for good tidings.
Though there’s no clear information on where this expression originated, it likely started when air travel became mainstream as an alternative to “Bon Voyage” and “Safe travels.”
Why Do We Say, “Have a Safe Flight?”
The phrase “Have a safe flight” is a common nicety we say when a loved one embarks upon a journey by air. It’s similar to saying “have a great day” when travel isn’t involved in our departure.
Perhaps our insistence on nicety relates to humanity’s fear of flying. Nearly 40% of all people experience some flight-related anxiety, according to 2022 flight statistics.
Some think saying “have a safe flight” is pointless since passengers aren’t in control of the aircraft. However, travelers have more control over their flight experience than you think.
Flight Safety: 9 Ways Passengers Can Ensure a Safe Flight
Even the thought of flying induces anxiety for many. For a better flight experience, try to stay calm. Flying is one of the safest modes of transportation. The odds of anything going wrong are extremely low.
Staying calm is easier said than done. Try taking deep breaths or distracting yourself with movies and games.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Steven Hadley, a commercial airline pilot with over 4,500 flight hours and owner of The Pilot Guys, can’t overstate the importance of seat belts. Although many passengers will click their belts when the light flashes and turbulence hits, most don’t think about it during smooth sailing.
Hadley says that’s a massive safety mishap, as unexpected turbulence can hit anytime. He recommends that passengers keep their seat belts fastened during the flight.
Hadley adds that pilots follow the same rules, wearing a five-point harness system during turbulence and keeping their lap bands secured at all times.
Hadley stresses that turbulence, while uncomfortable, is rarely dangerous, and flying is an incredibly safe form of transportation.
Pay Attention to the Safety Video
Seasoned travelers often sigh and roll their eyes when they can’t override the safety video and watch something else, but Hadley says it’s crucial to give the safety demonstration your full attention. He says that even with all his years of experience, he still pauses to listen to the entire demonstration every time he flies.
The safety video provides critical information about the aircraft’s features, emergency exits, and emergency procedures. Hadley stresses that each airplane is different, so passengers can’t assume they know it all just because they’ve traveled before.
Follow All Instructions from the Crew and Cockpit
Dawn Smith-Theodore is a retired flight attendant with over 34 years in the industry who now works as a licensed therapist. Her biggest safety flight tip is following the crew’s instructions.
Smith-Theodore says passengers commonly ignore the seatbelt light, believing it doesn’t apply to them. They’ll try to get up and use the restroom or grab something from the overhead bin while the cabin crew warns them to stay seated.
She said not following these vital instructions is one of the top reasons passengers get injured during turbulence.
However, Smith-Theodore said passengers ignore more than seatbelt warnings. They also get injured by carts when they refuse to move their arms and legs out of the aisle.
Wear a Mask
The COVID pandemic reinforced the dangers of close contact. You never know what germs the passenger sitting next to you may be carrying.
To maximize your safety and the safety of others, wear a mask while flying. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and annoying, but slight discomfort is better than spreading illness.
Stretch Your Legs
Josephine Remo is a travel blogger and flight attendant with seven years of experience. She says it’s essential to get up and walk on long-haul flights to avoid thrombosis.
Thrombosis is a blood clot in your leg. The high air pressure and lack of movement during air travel make air passengers susceptible to this type of clotting. Remo recommends that passengers get up and take a short walk every two hours while on longer flights.
Avoid Fizzy Drinks
Hadley offers one piece of advice that most of us are unaware of: avoid fizzy drinks before flying. Many of us enjoy a pre-flight drink, but Hadley warns that indulging may make the flight uncomfortable.
He says the difference in air pressure on the ground compared to cruising altitude may cause the gasses in your stomach to expand, causing indigestion and stomach pain. For the best flight experience, limiting your intake of beverages known to cause bloat before a flight, especially on longer flights, is best.
Help Out When Needed
In her many years as a flight attendant, Smith-Theodore dealt with her share of unruly passengers. Although flight attendants are trained to handle disgruntled guests and can generally de-escalate the situation, they sometimes need a helping hand.
If a flight attendant asks you to help manage a belligerent passenger, do what you can. Folks causing a scene on an aircraft can make the journey unsafe for everyone.
Store Your Luggage Properly
Too many people try to force luggage into the overhead bin that should have been checked. Although checking bags is a hassle, there’s a reason why aircraft limit the size of carry-ons. There’s often not enough room for luggage that meets requirements.
If flight attendants ask you to gate check your bags while boarding, do so without argument. Don’t try to shove things that don’t fit in the overhead compartment. In addition, be careful of what you store below your seat to ensure you have plenty of room to stretch.
Have a Safe Flight!
Air travel is the safest, easiest way to see the world. The odds are that you’ll have a safe flight no matter what, so when your friend hugs you and offers the nicety, smile back and say you will. Then, follow the tips above to make sure it happens.