Passenger safety information
- Check the operators policy about size and weight restrictions for cabin baggage
- Weigh your cabin baggage and make sure it is not too big or heavy
- There are usually test units available at the airport
- Ensure what you are carrying is not a restricted or prohibited item
- Charge your portable electronic devices before your flight
- Pack sufficient medication required in your carry-on baggage
- Never leave your bag unattended in the airport terminal
- Always stow your baggage as per the crew's instructions – this may be in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front
- Leave your bags behind if you need to evacuate
- Contact the airline/operator that you are travelling with if you need more information.
What could happen if I don't follow these instructions?
Checked in baggage
- Always pack your own bag
- Check the operators checked in baggage policy
- Weigh your bag prior to going to the airport
- Check that you have packed your bag safely, some items must not be packed in your checked in baggage.
An aircraft cabin is pressurised, meaning that less oxygen is available, gas within our body expands and there is a lower humidity.
So what can you do to make your trip as safe and comfortable as possible?
- Check your health
- Consult a physician if you have heart, lung or blood diseases to make sure you are safe to travel
- Check with your airline prior to booking if medical oxygen is required for travel
- Avoid flying if you have an ear, nose or sinus infection
- Do not fly if you are not able to clear your ears
- Avoid gas forming foods such as cabbage and peanuts, or carbonated liquids shortly before a flight
- Wait at least 24 hours after scuba diving before flying
- Drink at least a cup of water for each hour inflight
- Limit the consumption of alcohol. Less oxygen in the body increases the effects of alcohol
- Limit the consumption of tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks to prevent dehydration
- Wear glasses instead of contact lenses and consider using eye drops
- Apply a skin moisturiser.
Pay attention to the safety information provided and familiarise yourself with the use of oxygen in a decompression prior to takeoff.
If the emergency oxygen masks drop down put your mask on first. If the brain is starved of oxygen, you can get confused or pass out and will be unable to help yourself or others such as your child.
For more information, read the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's passenger safety bulletin: Staying Safe during an Aircraft Depressurisation.
The following information will help to ensure your safety when using electronic devices on the aircraft:
- Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your electronic device - policies vary by airline
- Charge your device before you fly
- Follow the instructions by crew and on-board procedures. The airline has the final say about the type and use of electronic devices allowed on board
- There may also be restrictions on the use of electronic devices on the tarmac
- Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked
- You cannot use mobile phones for voice communications or for mobile telephone functions in-flight
- Devices must remain in flight mode throughout the flight
- You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use
- Devices weighing more than 1kg such as standard laptops, must be stowed under seats or in the overhead lockers during take-off and landing and as directed by crew to prevent injuries in the event of turbulence or an accident
- Smaller hand held devices that weigh less than 1kg must also be secured for takeoff, landing and when advised by crew, but airline policy may allow the device to be secured in the seat pocket, garment pocket or in your hands
- If you lose your phone in flight do not move the seat and contact a crew member immediately
- Passengers who do not comply with instructions are putting your safety at risk. If you notice unlawful activities you can raise it with the cabin crew and your concerns will be taken seriously.
Make Safety Your First Priority.
Put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the safety briefing.
Electronic Cigarettes or eCigarettes are regarded as a personal electronic device and must only be carried on you or in your carry-on baggage.
Most airlines don't allow the use of eCigarettes in flight so check with your airline prior to travel.
Check out our Dangerous Goods information sheet.
The tarmac is a very busy area with baggage carts, catering vehicles and fuel trucks moving around the aircraft. For your safety, you must follow the instructions of airline staff and pay attention to where you are walking outside the terminal building and across the tarmac to board or leave your flights.
The embarking and disembarking of passengers on the tarmac increases the potential of a propeller or jet blast* related incident. You should take note of:
- where the propellers are in relation to the door of the aircraft. Take careful note of this in the dark, as propellers can be difficult to see at night
- look carefully for other airplanes with engines running. You may not hear another aircraft engine over the noise of the aircraft you are using
- be aware of jet blast from aircraft turning or moving on the tarmac.
Even stationary propellers can be dangerous. A propeller could turn unexpectedly as a result of accidental activation of the starter motor or even the wind. Ensure you stay away from this area.
The blast from a jet on the tarmac, without even revving its engine, has the ability to lift a truck, turn it over and dump it, or blow over a tanker. The power of the engine is enough, even at low throttle, to raise sheets of iron off roofs. Imagine what it could do to you or your child.
If you are required to embark or disembark using the tarmac, for your own safety, and for the safety of your family, it is very important that you follow the instructions of the airlines staff.
Ensure you keep an eye on any children in your care. If you are ever in doubt, ask an airline representative for clear directions.
Where can I go on the tarmac?
Only ever go where you are directed by airline representatives. They are there to ensure the safety of you and your family and friends.
* Jet blast is the exhaust that emits from the back of a jet engine. It can often be invisible, be at high speeds and high temperatures.
Passengers who assume the brace position sustain substantially less serious injuries than other passengers.
The best brace for impact position depends on a number of factors, including your size and physical limitations, the interior layout of the aircraft, the type and scale of the emergency, and the direction and sequence of the crash forces.
Children who are occupying approved child restraint devices should be braced in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Children in passenger seats should use the same brace position as adults. Adults holding infants should provide as much support as possible to the infant's head, neck, and body to minimise the possibility of injury.
For information on child restraint systems see our section on travelling with infants and children.
Pregnant or passengers with a disability may or may not need the assistance of another person in taking a brace position but should, in general, attempt to take the same brace position as the other passengers
In the unfortunate event of an emergency, adopt a brace position as best as is possible. Your seatbelt should be worn as tight and low on the torso as possible. Once the plane has come to a complete stop, the crew are well trained in how to move passengers from the aircraft to safety.
Always pay careful attention to the safety demonstration and read the passenger safety information card. If in doubt, ask the crew member.
Know what to listen for
Phrases such as 'brace', 'head down, stay down'; and 'grab your ankles' are commonly used to tell passengers to assume a protective position. This position is shown on the safety card, located in the aircraft seat pocket in front of you.
If you are seated in an emergency exit row you may be called upon to assist crew members in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation.
We provide guidance to airlines on the criteria for appropriate passengers to be seated in exit rows to ensure that the exit can be opened and the aircraft evacuated as quickly as possible.
This includes being:
- at least 15 years old
- able to understand and speak English
- willing to provide assistance to crew and other passengers in the event of an emergency.
Passengers who are travelling with an infant or child or someone who requires assistance in an emergency are not permitted to sit in an exit row.
If you are seated in an exit row you will be given a briefing and encouraged to review all safety information and ask questions.
What is different when I sit in an exit row?
In the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation, you are responsible for opening the exit.
The operation of the exits can differ from one aircraft to another and even from the front to the back of the same aircraft, so it is important that you ensure you listen carefully to the safety briefing and familiarise yourself with the emergency evacuation techniques outlined on the written safety instructions. Ask questions if you are not sure. If you don't think you can do it, speak up and ask to be moved.
Turbulence is air movement that normally cannot be seen. It may occur when the sky appears to be clear and can happen unexpectedly. It can be created by any number of different conditions, including atmospheric pressures, jet streams, mountain waves, cold or warm fronts, or thunderstorms. Turbulence is normal, happens often and rarely is a threat to passenger aircraft or to pilot control of an aircraft. However it can be dangerous to occupants in the passenger cabin under certain conditions, being the leading cause for in flight injuries. A bumpy ride can cause passengers who are not wearing their seatbelts to be thrown from their seats without warning and potentially cause harm.
To keep you and your family as safe as possible, follow these tips while flying:
- remain seated with your seatbelt fastened unless you are moving around the cabin
- obey the seatbelt sign at all times and instructions given to you by the crew
- if the seatbelt sign illuminates whilst waiting for, or in the bathroom, if safe do so, move quickly back to your allocated seat and fasten your seat belt. If unable to move due to the severity of the turbulence ensure you secure yourself as best as possible and consider enlisting the help from other passengers seated around you. If you are in the lavatories, brace yourself using the hand rails provided. Cabin crew will check on lavatories when safe to do so
- be aware of loose articles around you and safely stow these articles when not in use, either in the seat pocket, under the seat in front of you or in the overhead storage bin. Doing so will limit any possible trauma from loose articles that may be thrown around the cabin
- be cautious during turbulence when consuming hot foods and liquids
- make sure children are secured by either an approved child restraint or seated with their seatbelt fastened as much as possible during flight
- refrain from calling cabin crew for service related items when the seatbelt sign is illuminated
- always remember turbulence is unpredictable and the airline may not receive any warning
- for more information on turbulence read the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's Staying safe against in-flight turbulence fact sheet.
- Know where they are located and when to inflate them
- Life vests (under seat, if available), life rafts, and some seat cushions and evacuation slides can be used as flotation devices
- Know how to use your life jacket, even if it seems you are only flying over land. In Australia all major airports are located near the ocean, and aircraft are often required to fly over water in order to land or if placed in a holding pattern
- If travelling with infants, additional infant life jackets will be distributed as required by the cabin crew.
Before take-off, you must be verbally briefed on the following:
- smoking, including the prohibition of smoking in toilets
- the use and adjustment of seat belts
- the location of emergency exits
- the use of oxygen where applicable
- the use of flotation devices where applicable
- stowage of cabin baggage
- the presence on board of special survival equipment where applicable.
You will also be briefed on any other safety requirements which may include:
- tray tables
- portable electronic devices
If necessary you will also be provided with a 'demonstration' on how to use:
- oxygen equipment
- your life jacket.
If you are travelling on an aircraft that carries more than six people, you will also be provided with a safety information card, usually found in the seat pocket.
An individual briefing may also be provided for:
- passengers with a disability
- passengers travelling with infants and small children
- unaccompanied children.
- 'Let it go, people', Flight Safety Australia article
- 'You can't take it with you', Flight Safety Australia article
- 'Crashworthiness', Flight Safety Australia, November 1998, p33
- 'Well done that passenger', Flight Safety Australia article
- 'Leaking luggage forces turn back', Flight Safety Australia article
- 'Brave flight attendant won highest award', Flight Safety Australia article
- Security measures at Australian airports - travelsecure
- Healthy Flying - Flyana
- American Academy of Otolaryngology - Ears, Altitude and Airplane Travel
- Aerospace Medical Association - Useful tips for airline travel and Medical Guidelines for Airline Travel
- Airsafe.com - Safety information for the airline passenger
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is Australia's air safety regulator. We set the rules for aviation safety in Australia and are responsible for ensuring that the aviation industry understands and complies with those rules.
If you fly regularly, you may have been on a flight that was preparing to land but the pilots chose to pull out of the approach to the airport instead. They may have gained altitude, circled the airport and lined up for another approach to landing.
In aviation terminology, this is called a go-around. It is a common and very safe practice that pilots are trained for when everything is not quite right for landing.
Australia's aviation safety regulations allow the operation of a range of ex-military aircraft in adventure-style flights. These flights are marketed as warbird, combat, military, top-gun or adventure flights.
The safety risks involved in these flights are very different to those of public passenger aircraft, and people booking such flights and those intending to fly on them should be very aware of the warnings associated with them.
Expert Panel on Aircraft Air Quality
In response to public interest and available research CASA established a reference group to examine the potential health and safety risks through the Expert Panel on Aircraft Air Quality.
The panel was tasked with the following terms of reference:
- Establish the current state of knowledge in relation to human safety and health risks from the quality of air on-board commercial aircraft
- Recommend whether the current research initiatives being undertaken internationally were sufficient, or whether additional research would be required in an Australian context
- Recommend any further actions that should be taken in relation to human safety and health risks.
Many of the recommendations are outside the scope of CASA's functions under section 9 of the Civil Aviation Act 1988. To address the recommendations the report was forwarded to agencies in Australia and overseas.
CASA has not made policy directions or regulatory decisions based on the panels recommendations in the absence of definitive evidence. CASA believes the current incident reporting regime is adequate and the aviation industry is aware of its reporting responsibilities to the ATSB.