I noticed in this recent video that some of the passengers are not wearing their seat belts. I realize this is not a typical commercial flight, but is it advisable to wear seat belts when a 747 or similar aircraft is flying so close to the ground, (apparently) during a final approach? Or are the safety precautions here so thorough that it's not actually necessary in this case?

nice view! (crop 2)

nice view! (crop 1)

nice view!

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    $\begingroup$ Related 14 CFR 91.107 but its important to note that the airplane in the pictures is Air Force One. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Mar 27, 2016 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer thanks! I'm guessing then that this is not necessarily considered a "U.S.-registered civil aircraft," although if it were, the phrases like "...or gondola or an airship type certificated before November 2, 1987" or "Unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator—" might also come in to play. But in this question I'm really asking about safety and advisability, not regulations. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 27, 2016 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ AFO is owned and operated by US Air Force and is subject to different regulations. Its always advisable to wear a seatbelt on an aircraft as an accident or malfunction can occur at any time. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Mar 27, 2016 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Terry So was that captain's prerogative or is that one off the things you can fess up to now being retired? :) $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Mar 27, 2016 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ Consider that this may be an "all eyes" situation. Since this is a new landing zone, could it be that "all eyes" have been requested to scan for threats? I know this is a stretch, given the level of security involved for POTUS, but I know it is done in other military applications. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2016 at 13:06

3 Answers 3


Yes, it is always advisable for passengers to wear the provided safety belts in all phases of flight. This is especially true for aircraft on takeoff, landing, in low level flight, or in any other flight regimes that are especially prone to turbulence or other risk exposure.

A large, heavy aircraft—such as a B747—will be less affected by wake or mechanical turbulence than would a smaller aircraft—such as a CRJ200 or a C172. However, even large, heavy aircraft can be subjected to severe turbulence that could result in injury or death if passengers are not restrained by appropriate safety belts.

Additionally, for flights conducted under 14 CFR 121—which I am confident is a majority of the US operated passenger flights involving the B747 (though not, obviously, Air Force One pictured in the question above)—passengers are generally required to:

occupy an approved seat or berth with a separate safety belt properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing
Excerpted from 14 CFR 121.311 (b)

  • $\begingroup$ It might also be worth noting that, at least in the U.S., the same requirement applies to GA, per 14 CFR 91.107. So, even if it's a privately-owned 747, the seat belt requirement is still in place during taxi, takeoff, and landing. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Mar 28, 2016 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this is also noted in the comments under the question. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Mar 28, 2016 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ This is also a correct answer - and is up-voted more because the message is important. Always keep your belt fastened - even when the light is out - even if you think you are in control of the situation. Stuff happens. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 28, 2016 at 16:02

It is, of course, advisable to wear your seat belt, yes. However, there appears to be somewhat of a tradition of not always wearing seat belts on Air Force One:

Stanley B. Greenberg, Dispatches from the War Room: In the Trenches with Five Extraordinary Leaders (Google Books):

Nobody wears seat belts and everyone uses their cell phones while the plane is taking off.

Presumably the crew would provide a special warning if they expected a rough ride.

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    $\begingroup$ There are multiple good answers here, but you've also taken the time to find additional supporting data. So in addition to the peanuts, M&Ms, pens, etc. there are other perks that come with this job - you get to not wear your seat belt sometimes. Thanks for the heads-up! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 28, 2016 at 14:50

Don't worry about what Obama does in particular . It's always advised to wear seat belt whether you are in Boeing 747 or other small planes.

According to this Telegraph.co.uk article:

"Seat belts are required and designed to ensure passenger safety and reduce the risk of injury, particularly during deceleration, turbulence and unplanned or difficult to predict events.”

And later on in the same article:

Last year, severe turbulence caused three EasyJet crew members to “hit the ceiling” over Italy, according to a passenger eye-witness, with one sustaining a hip injury.

Now all that can be said is if you don't want to be next victim wear the seatbelts.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow thanks now it sounds & looks better. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2016 at 2:56

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