Turbulence the Leading Cause of Inflight Injuries

Article excerpt

Byline: Gail Todd

A couple of weeks ago, 11 passengers, who took off from Guadalajara, Mexico, for Chicago, landed in St. Louis-area hospitals.

According to the Associated Press, the passengers aboard the American Trans Air flight were watching the movie "Serendipity" when the plane did a very "un-serendipitous" thing and began shaking violently. Passengers who didn't have their seat belts fastened found themselves airborne in more ways than one.

Most turbulence shows up on radar screens and allows pilots time to warn passengers to return to their seats and fasten their seat belts before they feel like a tossed salad. However, not all turbulence is predictable. Clear-air turbulence happens without warning, which is why both pilots and flight attendants advise you to keep your seat belts fastened at all times when seated. Not everybody listens.

Jeff Kinney unbuckled his seat belt on a flight over the Rockies. A few minutes later the plane shook so violently all the oxygen masks dropped.

"I was lifted out of my seat and thrown against the ceiling," said Jeff, who now takes the announcements seriously.

Flight attendant Linda says that the only thing that kept her from playing Mary Poppins on a flight to Paris was her death grip on the in-aisle cart.

"The flight had been relatively smooth when suddenly it was like the floor dropped out from under me," said Linda. "The beverage cart jumped a foot into the air. If I hadn't held onto it, I would have been thrown around like a rag doll."

It seems as though today's travelers pay more attention to safety, but not all of them do. Recently on a flight to Orlando, I watched several children running up and down the aisle. If turbulence had struck, they would have literally been bouncing off the walls. …