Cabin Safety for Passengers

Safety Briefings

Knowing what to do in an emergency can increase the chances of you and your family surviving such an occurrence. The safety briefing and the safety information card provided near your seat give vital information on the location of exits and emergency equipment. As this can vary from one aircraft type to another, it is important to pay attention to the safety briefing and read the safety card each time you fly. You should check the location of your nearest emergency exit, which may be behind you (count the rows). Safety equipment will typically include life jackets, oxygen masks, seatbelts/harnesses and floor lighting.

The safety briefing will generally include information on the use of portable electronic devices, storage of hand baggage and the need for your seat to be in the upright position with the tray table stowed and window shade open during take-off and landing.

Seat Belts

Your seat belt must be fastened whenever the "seat belt" sign is on - during taxi, take-off, landing, turbulence, and whenever the Captain has illuminated the “seat belt” sign. CAA require you to comply with all the lighted signs and instructions from your crew, so if the seat belt sign is illuminated, you must comply with this instruction.

If the seat belt sign has been on for some time and the conditions appear calm, you can call a flight attendant to check with them how long the seat belt sign will remain on. In some cases the Cabin Crew member can call the Captain to find out this information for you. When the seat belt sign is not illuminated it is still recommended to keep your seat belt fastened.

You should adjust your seat belt so that it is tight but comfortable, with the buckle the right way round so that it can be released easily. If you have a blanket over your lap and are likely to fall asleep, it is recommended that you fasten the seat belt over the blanket so cabin crew can see you have the seat belt fastened. After landing, you must wait until the "seat belt" sign goes off before undoing your seat belt at the end of the flight.

Portable Electronic Devices

Some New Zealand airlines now allow passengers to use electronic devices such as smartphones and small tablets during the entire duration of a flight. These airlines have conducted safety tests to ensure electronic gadgets do not adversely affect their aircraft. Currently, all electronic devices must remain in Flight Mode when switched on unless passengers are advised otherwise by cabin crew, and the use of bluetooth (wireless headphones, keyboards etc) is not permitted unless you have been advised otherwise by the cabin crew.

Passengers will always be instructed by cabin crew as to exactly what electronic devices can be used, and in what mode, at the beginning of a flight. If in any doubt, always check with a member of cabin crew before using a device.

Some airlines also publish details about travelling with portable electronic devices on their websites, as well as in their in-flight magazines.


New Zealand airlines do not permit smoking on board, therefore the ‘no smoking’ signs will remain on throughout the flight.

Passengers are not permitted to smoke in toilets and these are fitted with smoke detectors. Tampering with an aircraft smoke detector is a serious offence and may lead to prosecution.

Seats by Emergency Exits

Some passengers may not be permitted to sit in a seat row next to an emergency exit. This is to ensure that if the emergency exit is needed, the exit can be opened and the aircraft evacuated as quickly as possible.

The following passengers are among those who should not be allocated, or directed to, seats by emergency exits:

  • passengers with physical or mental impairment or disability to the extent that they would have difficulty in moving quickly if asked to do so;
  • passengers who have significant sight or hearing impairment to the extent that it might be difficult for them to respond to instructions quickly;
  • passengers who, because of age, sickness or ill health, have difficulty in moving quickly and or have difficulty in responding to instructions;
  • passengers who, because of physical size, have difficulty in moving quickly;
  • children (whether accompanied or not) and infants;
  • passengers travelling with assistance dogs.

Refusal to Carry Passengers

Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers that they consider to be a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew, or its passengers.

Reasons for refusal will typically include if the passenger:

  • is under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • has refused to allow a security check to be carried out on them or their baggage;
  • has not obeyed the instructions of ground staff or a member of the crew relating to safety or security;
  • has used threatening, abusive or insulting words towards ground staff, another passenger or a member of the crew;
  • has behaved in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly way towards a member of ground staff or a member of the crew of the aircraft;
  • has deliberately interfered with the performance by a member of the crew of the aircraft in carrying out their duties;
  • has put the safety of either the aircraft or any person in it in danger;
  • if the mental or physical state or health of the passenger poses a danger or risk to themselves, the aircraft, or any person in it.

Unacceptable Behaviour On Board

Certain passenger behaviours are not acceptable or permitted while on board an aircraft, including:

  • endangering the safety of an aircraft
  • being drunk in an aircraft
  • smoking
  • disobeying a command from the captain of an aircraft, and
  • acting in a disruptive manner (including interfering with the work of a member of the crew).

If a member of the crew deems behaviour disruptive, they have the right to take measures they think reasonable to prevent the passenger from continuing that behaviour. When the aircraft lands, their actions may include:

  • making the passenger leave the aircraft, possibly under police escort
  • refusing to carry the passenger on the remaining sectors of the journey shown on their ticket, and
  • reporting the incident on board the aircraft to the relevant authorities with a view to prosecuting them for any criminal offences that may have been committed.

Serious offences could result in a large fine and/or imprisonment.

Carry-on Baggage

Please check with the airline in regards to the allowance of carry-on baggage. The weight and size allowance is to be strictly adhered to as aircraft overhead lockers are restricted in the weight and capacity they can carry. This is also for the wellbeing of passengers and crew.

See also Avsec information for travellers – Items in carry-on baggage

Child seats and child restraint devices

If you're travelling with children, see our information about child seats and child restraint devices.