Passengers Suing JetBlue For Failing to Turn on Seat Belt Sign

jetBlue Airways

Turbulence is the most common cause of injury to air passengers: in the US alone there are an estimated 58 injuries each year due to turbulence, and yesterday (June 18 2017) 26 people were hurt, including four seriously, after turbulence struck a China Eastern flight from Paris to Kunming Changshui International Airport.

Turbulence is dangerous and it can come out of nowhere taking passengers and crew by surprise. That’s why airlines tell you — and it’s a good idea — to keep your seat belt fastened even when the seat belt sign is off. And the instruction is to keep it fastened low and tight across your lap.

Three passengers are suing jetBlue arguing that it was negligent of the airline’s pilots to fly into turbulence, and that they failed to turn on the seat belt sign before turbulence struck. For real.

On August 11, 2016 JetBlue Airways B6 429 from Boston to Sacramento hit significant turbulence and the flight made an emergency landing in Rapid City, South Dakota. Twenty four passengers and three crew went to the hospital.

There are two lawsuits against JetBlue resulting from the incident. The latest was just filed by two passengers and alleges that the airline “disregarded the threat of a major thunderstorm over South Dakota” and that crew “chose not to advise its Flight 429 passengers to stay seated with seat belts fastened” before turbulence struck.

“Only after the aircraft had flown into the severe weather did flight attendants announce to the passengers to be seated and fasten seat belts,” the lawsuit says.

The other lawsuit was filed by a single passenger who had gotten up to go to the lavatory and complains that the seat belt sign wasn’t on.

Contra the claims in the lawsuit that the airline was negligent in flying into the storm, the NTSB concluded that the plane encountered turbulence “while maneuvering to avoid convective weather.”

Wear your seat belt at all times while seated, even when the seat belt sign is off.

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