AA Legal Documents
Law guide

In-flight safety


To ensure you have a safe journey, there are some factors you should consider before boarding your flight, including becoming familiar with equipment and luggage regulations.

Looking after your health

There is no scientific evidence to link aircraft air-conditioning systems with the spread of disease. Infectious diseases, for example, common colds, are likely to be spread by sitting or standing near an infected person, either before, during or after a flight. Most aircraft are fitted with air filters, and cabin air within them is changed every three to seven minutes. A study, commissioned by the House of Lords in 2005, found that pollutant levels in flights were well within World Health Organisation parameters.

Although the cabin environment is satisfactory for most passengers, if you have a severe pulmonary disease, you should seek medical advice from your GP or your chosen airline's medical service, especially before a long-distance flight.

There has also been interest in the possible link between deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and air travel. Immobility is the most common risk, and may be associated with any form of long distance travel, whether by air, car, coach or train.

Using electronic equipment

Most carriers prohibit the use of mobile phones and other portable electronic equipment, such as computer games, on board aircraft. The reason given, is that they may interfere with the communication and navigation systems. Therefore, for passenger safety, mobile phones must be switched off during the entire flight, and portable electronic equipment should not be used during takeoff and landing.

However, this is not particularly convincing, as most of the equipment is well shielded (aircraft frequently need to fly through thunderstorms generating huge amounts of interference) and the weak electromagnetic interference generated by personal electronic devices is unlikely to affect an aircraft's avionics or other electronic equipment.

Items you can't take on board

There are a number of items that cannot be carried in hand luggage, such as knives, nail scissors and nail files. You can find detailed information on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

Getting safety advice

Under its ATOL protection scheme, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has produced a leaflet called "Travelling Safely" which provides advice on matters such as drinking alcohol on aircraft, how to behave and aircraft procedures. You can download a copy from the ATOL section of the CAA website by clicking on this link: Travelling Safely

Investigating air accidents

Civil accidents and serious incidents are investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).The purpose of these investigations is not to find fault or to establish liability, but to ensure the preservation of life and avoidance of accidents in the future. The Government Actuary's Department can give advice on compensation, and there are a number of support groups that provide practical help and emotional support, for example, to those who are bereaved.

Aircraft Casualty Emotional Support Services - Offers peer grief support network for those who have survived or lost loved ones in an air disaster.