Dramatic photos show importance of wearing seat belts in flight

  • Alan Cross

     (Alan Cross)

  • Alan Cross

     (Alan Cross)

  • Alan Cross

     (Alan Cross)

In case you needed a reminder that fastening your seatbelt on an aircraft is a good idea, these dramatic images should do the trick.

These are proof that the phrase “Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign,” is no joke.

On a recent Singapore Airlines flight SQ308 from Singapore to London, the dreaded “seat belt” announcement came around 11:00 a.m. Singapore time, just when flight attendants were midway through serving breakfast in the cabin.

There was an announcement that breakfast would be temporarily suspended due to turbulence and the fasten seat belt sign turned on.

Passenger Alan Cross was sitting in seat 45D at the time when he said he heard the urgent announcement:  "FLIGHT ATTENDANTS TAKE YOUR SEATS IMMEDIATELY."

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“I remember thinking that that his tone was a bit odd--a little too urgent and harsh, maybe,” he told

Then the aircraft hit an air pocket, lost altitude, sending meals flying.

Cross, who likened the experience to free-falling from some amusement park ride, documented the chaos on Instagram, posting images of food strewn across the aisles and coffee splashes high up on the ceiling.

“Everything that wasn’t tied down literally hit the ceiling as the plane suddenly dropped,” he says. “The result was the mess that you see in the pictures.”

The plane fell 65 feet, injuring 11 passengers and one crewmember.

"Singapore Airlines flight SQ308 experienced moderate to severe turbulence en route from Singapore to London on 26 May. Eleven passengers and one crew member sustained minor injuries when the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of altitude and were attended to by medical personnel on arrival at Heathrow Airport."

In addition, for your background info, seat belt signs were on at the time that the severe turbulence took place, which was around two hours after departure. Meal services had also already been suspended. There were a total of 328 passengers and 26 crew on board the flight which was operated on an Airbus A380.

In a statement, Singapore Airlines told that 11 passengers and one crew member sustained minor injuries when flight SQ308 experienced moderate to severe turbulence. The seat belt signs were on at the time and meal services had already been suspended. Those hurt were attended to by medical personnel on arrival at Heathrow Airport.

Captain Tom Bunn, a retired commercial pilot and licensed therapist who helps people overcome their fear of flying, says that despite the dramatic images, the plane probably moved very little.

“The rough ride is not due to great amounts of movement up and down, but the great forward speed of the plane so that when it hits a bump, it feels like it is moving up and down a lot,” he says.

Turbulence like this --that makes a mess -- is rare because pilots are on their radios hearing what pilots ahead of them are reporting --and know what conditions lie ahead.

“On some Pacific routes, it is possible to encounter turbulence the pilots don't know about in advance,” he says.

Cross says the flight attendants were “amazing,” and quickly came through the cabin to check for injuries before cleaning up the mess.

“Within about an hour, the cabin was almost 100 percent back to normal,” he says, and the flight continued as normal for the next 10 hours.  He added that the passengers were even given boxes of chocolates as they deplaned.

While the good-will gesture of chocolates probably went a way to help sooth jitter, what about those who were injured? 

Personal injury lawyer Scott Diamond, partner of Philadelphia's Sacks, Weston, Petrelli, Diamond and Millstein, says in this case those who would like to seek damages from the airline will likely have a hard time.

&quotIn my opinion, airline incidents of this nature are not actionable by a passenger unless one can prove negligence of the airline, and damages realized by the passenger are significant,” says Diamond.

Cross says despite the experience, he was impressed with the way the airline handled the situation.  Even his fellow passengers remained calm and helped clean up. He added the big box of chocolates didn’t hurt either.

“The chocolates were a nice touch from the airline. That’s why Singapore will remain my favourite carrier in the world,” he says.