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During a recent trip in a Finnair A350, a couple traveling together was occupying 1 row of three Economy Comfort seats. During the 12 hour flight, one of the couple stretched out on the seats, the other one on the floor in between the seat rows, leg room being sufficient to allow this.

A flight attendant was overheard stating that sleeping on the floor was not allowed due to safety regulations. What safety regulation would prohibit this?

update

During cruise condition, no Fasten Seatbelt sign. EASA regulations. Yes you're out of your seat but we're allowed to walk around aren't we. Where is the hard, written, safety regulation?

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    $\begingroup$ Regardless of regulation, it's not a good idea $\endgroup$ – Simon May 3 '17 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW The cockpit and jump seat culture of cargo operations has certainly changed greatly from my 727 and 747 days in the 1980s and 1990s. It was pretty relaxed back then, at least at the two freight carriers I flew for. We didn't care back then where people slept or stood, and whether they wanted to use a seat belt or not. We used to have jumpers stand in the cockpit for takeoff and landing and nobody minded except for the occasional hard-ass captain. Another trick was to sleep in a ULD that had soft contents. $\endgroup$ – Terry May 3 '17 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Terry I'd be afraid to sleep in a container. They'd forget I was there and I'd end up in Hong Kong or something. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW May 3 '17 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Yuck! The floor is where everyone barfs! There is probably not an infectious disease regulation, but there should be. $\endgroup$ – mongo May 4 '17 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ The sleeping on the floor prohibition is on air France's safety cards my-safetycard.de/index.php?page=searchsafetyscan&q=22371 $\endgroup$ – Owen May 4 '17 at 5:52
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Essentially this has been explained to me as "you're a trip hazard." ' Additionally, inferences that if power/lights go off, you'll be stepped on and trip people, particularly people in your row (don't know how this applies so much if you're a couple/by yourself), and in the way in the necessity of evacuation, or in the case of a flight attendant needing to rush to the window to look out. How they'd do that with your legs in front of you in a seated position, I don't know.

I do know it's not allowed on QANTAS (and Jetstar), Emirates, American, Virgin Blue, or North West (now defunct). In my experience it's pretty common to hear the captain or stewardess announce or tell a passenger if you're on an overnight or long flight.

ADD: Just got off a QANTAS flight, this is more of less what they said. The flight attendants need to be able to rush to a window or an overhead locker/passenger in a window seat in an emergency situation, so bags cluttering floors, people sleeping on floors isn't ok. Also mentioned was the danger to passenger in case of turbulance, etc, the comparison with sleeping on the back seat floor of a car in motion was mentioned vis a vis unexpected swerving or breaking.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, the person on the floor would be almost as much of a problem as a tray table, inexplicably 12 foot long headphone cable, blanket, backpack by feet, coat across lap, kicked off shoes.... : ) $\endgroup$ – Grimm The Opiner May 4 '17 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ We also tried those inflatable cushions that act as seat extensions, filling the gap in front of the seat, for the kiddos to sleep - the flight attendants had no issue with these. $\endgroup$ – toonarmycaptain Oct 2 '17 at 13:50
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That depends on the air carrier and the regulatory body they're certified by. Finland is part of the EU so I'm assuming that Finnair's certificate is under EASA aviation safety regs. Specifically, a quick Google search finds:

CAT.OP.MPA.165 Passenger seating:

The operator shall establish procedures to ensure that passengers are seated where, in the event that an emergency evacuation is required, they are able to assist and not hinder evacuation of the aircraft.

Finnair would also write their own SOPs to ensure they meet all the EASA regs.

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    $\begingroup$ "in the event that an emergency evacuation is required" doesn't seem to be the context of the question (cruise mostly) $\endgroup$ – mins May 3 '17 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ Well, in case of emergency it is way to easier to just fasten your seatbelt and put the mask on compared to stand up, get yourself in the seat and fasten your seatbelt... In case of decompression every second matters and only few people would remember what is right (and counterintuitive, if you don't know what's happening) to do. $\endgroup$ – Crowley May 3 '17 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @ Crowley these are valid arguments, but equally valid for passengers walking to the pantry, being in the toilet etc. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis May 3 '17 at 20:50
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This will vary based on jurisdiction and the stage of the flight, but in the US under the FAA this is prohibited (most likely for multiple reasons) for at least some stages of flight and flight conditions. This is most likely an EU issue but here in the US...

They can't do it during taxi take off and landing:

§ 121.311 Seats, safety belts, and shoulder harnesses.

(b) Except as provided in this paragraph, each person on board an airplane operated under this part shall 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.

And the flight attendant was well within their rights if the fasten seat belt sign is on thanks to

§ 121.317 Passenger information requirements, smoking prohibitions, and additional seat belt requirements.

(f) Each passenger required by § 121.311(b) to occupy a seat or berth shall fasten his or her safety belt about him or her and keep it fastened while the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign is lighted.

(k) Each passenger shall comply with instructions given him or her by a crewmember regarding compliance with paragraphs (f), (g), (h), and (l) of this section.

I'm still looking for the letter of the law on if you need to be seated in an approved seat during the cruise stage of flight with the "fasten seat belts" sign off.

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  • $\begingroup$ In cruise condition, fasten setbelt was off. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis May 3 '17 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ With that in mind. That may actually be permitted here in the US but I will continue to look. $\endgroup$ – Dave May 3 '17 at 21:17

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