This might be UK specific, given I have only been flying internally recently.

During the safety briefings, when describing how to inflate the lifevest the instructions are always:

"Wrap the lines around you and tie them using a double knot on your lefthand side".

I have asked the crew and none of them can tell me why and I cannot find any reason online there is an emphasis on the lefthand side.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is the lines of such length that it's possible to do it on both sides? Maybe it's like the offset length headphones you have behind your head? I have never had one of those vests on so it's just a guess. $\endgroup$
    – Andreas
    Aug 20, 2019 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ From what I can see, the lines are the same length. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2019 at 20:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Right side means you are in a relationship (or don’t search a partner/chat up), left side means your free and not in a relationship. Backside - widow - or just for practical reasons, during working or when the lines are just to short. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Aug 20, 2019 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe it doesn't matter if tied left or right but they just tell it so that people don't start asking when the emergency comes. Also, if all people tie it on the same side, the tying doesn't interfere with your neighbour's tying because of the limited space in a passenger's seat. It may also be easier for the FAs to check the knots if they can be expected in a defined place. $\endgroup$
    – PerlDuck
    Aug 21, 2019 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


After many questions to the various crew members/ground crew on the next few flights I did, I have managed to get an answer that makes sense.

You are told to tie the life vest on the left side for two reasons:

  1. The inflate toggle hangs on the right side of the lifevest and if you were trying to tie the knot below it then you might pull it by accident, inflating the lifevest inside the plane.
  2. If you tie the knot with a bow, instead of the double knot, then if the bow was on the right side there is a chance that you will get it tangled in the pull toggle while moving around the plane, inflating it before you exit.

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