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I'm a simple curious traveller. I always see flight attendants passing by the seats checking whether belts are fastened. They pass quickly and without looking carefully at each single person, to see if the seat belt is fastened.

I stared at them and found them looking at some specific point on the ground that could possibly tell them with a glance, but I couldn't figure out what was that point.

Can somebody explain how do they check the seat belts status?

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    $\begingroup$ Today I learned that the in-flight safety belt check is referred to as "The Crotch Watch" and the "Groin Scan" $\endgroup$ – Richard Feb 8 '17 at 11:03
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    $\begingroup$ You can perceive a lot in your peripheral vision. A quick glance can be enough to see that the buckle is in place. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Feb 8 '17 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ This is another question with the answer "MkII eyeballs" (That's the upgrade from MkI eyeballs, with more specific training in what they're looking for) $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Feb 8 '17 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ @NadjibMami they cannot possibly know if it's buckled if the buckle is completely obscured from vision. If they're doing proper checks they will stop and ask you to show them that your buckle is done correctly if they cannot see it. $\endgroup$ – Notts90 Feb 8 '17 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ X-ray vision :D $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Feb 8 '17 at 15:57
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Flight attendants check that seatbelts are fastened the old fashioned way - by looking and confirming each passenger has correctly fastened them. There is no indicator anywhere around each seat which indicates as such.

If the attendants is doing this "..quickly and without looking carefully at each single person" then they are [possibly] not doing their job correctly. That they can do it swiftly, is not the same thing; like all things if you practice it every day you can do it "quickly and efficiently" without compromising safety.

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  • $\begingroup$ More than 2 years later and after travelling several times more, I ensure that some attendants are not really ensuring everyone's belt is fastened. I saw belt-unfastened seats being passed past without notice, even though visibly checked. $\endgroup$ – Nadjib Mami Sep 19 at 11:45
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In addition to Jamiec's correct answer, I would add that you can tell when a seat belt is not fastened even if the buckle is covered by someone's shirt (or belly!). You can normally see the segment of belt alongside the person's hip and it's easy to tell if that piece of strap is under tension or not. Some people actually try to disguise the fact that their seat belt isn't fastened by covering up the buckle, hoping to avoid detection. By looking for the strap alongside their hip, I can avoid asking to see the buckle itself.

Of course, if I can't really tell by a quick glance, I ask them to show it to me. It's very rare that anyone actually takes offense to this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the useful addition. Maybe one day my imagined solution for a guaranteed check will be implemented :) $\endgroup$ – Nadjib Mami Feb 8 '17 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ @NadjibMami even if the seat belt check could be automated, there are additional things the flight attendants need to check. Baggage stowed, seats upright, tray tables, phones stowed, etc. A walk through the cabin would still be necessary. $\endgroup$ – PJNoes Feb 8 '17 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, that passage is still important, it makes the flight more convivial to my opinion. Only the careful seat belt check would be saved. $\endgroup$ – Nadjib Mami Feb 9 '17 at 9:18

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