Now Reading
Singapore Airlines Will No Longer Serve Meals When the Seatbelt Sign is On Following Deadly Turbulence Incident

Singapore Airlines Will No Longer Serve Meals When the Seatbelt Sign is On Following Deadly Turbulence Incident

a woman pouring tea into a tray on an airplane

Singapore Airlines has confirmed that it is taking a more ‘cautious approach’ to meal service following the severe turbulence incident aboard flight SQ321 on Tuesday, which left one passenger dead and dozens seriously injured, including 22 who have suffered spinal cord injuries and six who have sustained brain and skull trauma.

The airline says that it will suspend any meal service whenever the seatbelt sign is switched on and will direct flight attendants to strap themselves into their jumpseats unless they are helping a passenger.

The decision will be a big change for Singapore Airlines, where flight attendants have generally been expected to carry on working in light turbulence, with carts taken into the cabin for meals to be served.

Like the vast majority of airlines, Singapore Airlines does not serve hot drinks when the seatbelt sign is on, even if there isn’t any active turbulence, because the pilots have assessed that the plane might be affected by a sudden jolt or bump that could lead to a burn injury.

Singapore Airlines’ new approach to service is an acknowledgement that just like scold injuries from a spilt cup of coffee, more serious turbulence-related injuries could happen even if the ride feels relatively smooth.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Singapore Airlines confirmed: “In addition to the suspension of hot beverage service when the seat belt sign is on, the meal service will also be suspended.”

“Pilots and cabin crew are aware of the hazards associated with turbulence. They are also trained to assist customers and ensure cabin safety throughout the flight,” the statement continued.

The idea behind the policy isn’t that flight attendants will suddenly disappear from passenger view, with the SIA spokesperson adding:

“Crew members will also continue to advise passengers to return to their seats and secure their seat belts. They will also monitor customers who may require assistance, including those in the lavatories.”

Flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore was flying across the Irrawaddy Basin when it was suddenly rocked by severe turbulence. With just two hours left of a 13-hour flight, the cabin crew were preparing for a meal service, although the seatbelt signs were already on due to forecast bad weather in the region.

Passengers and crew who weren’t strapped in when the Boeng 777-300 encountered the patch of severe turbulence were flung up towards the ceiling, causing serious head, neck and back injuries.

By Friday, 40 passengers and two crew members remained in a Bangkok hospital where the plane diverted after the pilots declared a medical emergency. At least one crew member has had to have a spinal injury due to the injuries sustained during Flight 321.

Matt’s take

The way that airlines deal with turbulence, especially in terms of cabin service, can vary massively from one carrier to the next. Traditionally, we see US-based airlines having a much more cautious approach, with flight attendants frequently ordered to suspend cabin crew and take their jumpseats even if there isn’t any active turbulence.

On the other end of the spectrum, some Asian carriers are more willing to carry on regardless in mild and sometimes even in moderate turbulence. This is what makes SIA’s new policy an unusual but welcome decision, which is finally putting safety before service.

Don’t, however, expect other airlines to quickly follow suit. In fact, while Singapore Airlines has changed its turbulence policy now, don’t expect further changes at some point in the future, which could see cabin crew able to carry out meal service when the seatbelt sign is on.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.