The what, why and how of inflight announcements

Published
28.3.2017 - 07:00
On average, 8 to 10 announcements are made per flight, including those on safety and service, says a member of Finnair’s inflight customer service team.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Thank you.”

Whether you're a frequent flyer or a novice traveler, inflight announcements such as this one should be familiar to you. “These fall under two categories: safety and service, and are documented in the Finnair Inflight Announcement Manual (FIAM) and Cabin Safety Manual (CSM),” says Tapio Ollikainen, who is part of Finnair’s inflight customer service team.

He says that safety announcements must always be made as described in the FIAM and CSM. Crew members are not allowed to alter these safety announcements.

“For service announcements, however, the crew is allowed to make changes depending of the time of day, passenger segment on board, and passenger nationalities and which languages they use,” Ollikainen continues. In this instance, the flight crew can inject a bit of their personality – or humor – into their lines. Of course, all facts mentioned in the FIAM must be made known.

Ollikainen says that on average, 8 to 10 announcements are made per flight, including those on safety and service. During boarding, for example, passengers tend to hear instructions regarding hand luggage. Once seated, they are welcomed on board then briefed on the use of electronic devices and shown the safety demonstration.

Service announcements are typically made as the plane makes its approach. Depending of the type of aircraft, some of the announcements are done via inflight entertainment monitors as video presentations.

Announcements for passengers are meant to be as clear as possible, using only words that are easily understandable and simple to pronounce.

“Take your door positions,” “cross-check,” “arm your door,” “disarm your door” – these terms are part of safety announcements for flight attendants. But in case you really want to know, “cross-check” is used by pilots and flight attendants to indicate that one person has verified the task of another. In the cabin, flight attendants cross-check each another’s stations to make sure the doors are armed or disarmed as needed.

“Announcements for passengers are meant to be as clear as possible, using only words that are easily understandable and simple to pronounce,” explains Ollikainen.

Who is in charge of making these airline announcements? For the ones concerning safety, the responsibility falls on the inflight safety officers who use the CSM as their source. Inflight service specialists, meanwhile, handle the ones on service and are responsible for the FIAM. 

“Finnair's inflight safety officers and inflight service specialists are part of Finnair's cabin crew. They also do flight duty as cabin crew two to three times per month,” says Ollikainen. “Their main work is to produce safety and service instructions for cabin crew. They also follow Finnair's communication instructions when producing announcement texts for different purposes.”

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