As a passenger, what happens / can happen if you refuse to fasten your seatbelt when you are told to, either during take off/landing or (bad) turbulences?

I've recently read a Facebook post that supposedly described such a situation. It didn't give many details, so that's why I'm here.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Just out of curiosity, why would you not want to fasten your seatbelt? $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2014 at 13:38
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Except in unusual circumstances, an airline captain has a professional responsibility to not take into the air any potential problem he is aware of, and generally speaking the presence of a potentially disruptive passenger will be brought to her/his attention. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Nov 14, 2014 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Skip Miller: the same reason you wouldn't want to wear a mask during the Covid pandemic? I'm not condoning either of these actions, I just wanted to say that people for unfathomable reasons sometimes simply do things that are not in their best self-interest... $\endgroup$
    – rob74
    Sep 1, 2020 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ Especially in the US this would be taken very, very seriously. $\endgroup$
    – Alan B
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


In the US it is an offence under federal law.

A loose 180lb/80kg projectile inside an aircraft is a threat to other passengers during turbulence, in the worst cases of passenger misbehaviour cabin staff can and have forcibly restrained passengers and/or diverted to a nearby airport to have the passenger deplaned and sometimes arrested.

Seven Ways to Get Kicked Off a Plane

Family kicked off plane

A 3-year-old, who refused to use his safety belt, caused a flight to be delayed after his father could not get him locked in his seat belt on board an Alaska Airlines plane.

The pilot returned to the gate on Saturday and asked the father and child to get off the plane.

Why you need to wear a seatbelt

For passengers who refuse to wear seatbelts when the sign is illuminated and who are disruptive to the crew, the FAA can impose a maximum fine of $25,000.

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    $\begingroup$ The fatalities in the Asiana 214 crash landing in San Francisco on July 6, 2013, were not wearing seat belts during the accident. One person suffered fatal injuries from being thrown across the cabin when the tail struck the seawall in SFO, and the other person fell out of the plane and was run over by a rescue vehicle. It is really stupid not to wear seat belts. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2014 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ It's an offence in a UK registered aircraft also. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Aug 17, 2014 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear the underlying federal offense is not specific to seat belts it generally covers any refusal to comply with aircrew instructions or hazardous behaviors, and the judge can lock you up in place of the fine. $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Sep 2, 2020 at 10:27

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