I was recently on a scheduled flight (Boeing 737) from Victoria Falls (VFA) to Johannesburg (JNB). At the check in desk I was informed the flight was stopping at Livingston (LVI) on route.

When I boarded the flight there were already passengers on board from a previous stop. We then took off, climbed to 10,000 feet and landed 8-10 minutes later in Livingstone. Without a safety briefing (I noticed the air stewards talking to the people sitting in the wing exit row, but there was no announcement to the other passengers other than the captain explaining the flight plan).

After complaining to the cabin crew the pilot came and spoke to several passengers during the LVI -> JNB section of the flight. He justified the lack of safety briefing for VFA -> LVI section because the plane was not near a large body of water and wouldn't be reaching an altitude where oxygen would be required.

I have since complained the British airline that owns the plane used on the flight and the forwarded the complaint to the South African operator of the flight. The replied with it was against policy and the all crews have been instructed to do a full briefing in future.

What I want to know is whether the airline has breached any local (South African) laws or International Regulations?

  • 5
    My guess would be no. I have been on a small plane, small airline (hand written boarding pass) in Canada where the pre flight briefing consisted of "we should be there in 20 minutes!" and without even a "please fasten your seatbelts" the plane started to move. I found it funny, tbh: we all knew how planes worked and no-one was endangered by skipping the briefing. Jan 17 '13 at 14:51
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    Not getting the close votes. Travel legal question that the poster personally faced. We have many of those.
    – Mark Mayo
    Jan 17 '13 at 16:15
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    @MarkMayo: really? I would have thought that being seated is a rather important safety feature.
    – Jonas
    Jan 17 '13 at 16:51
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    Why would it matter if it is mandatory or not? What will you gain by complaining in this case?
    – Jacco
    Jan 17 '13 at 17:10
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    This question is valid, the safety of the trip is an important part of the travel... +1 Jan 17 '13 at 18:26

Yes, the lack of passenger briefing is a breach of one of the following technical standards from the "South African Civil Aviation Authority":

  • SA-CATS 121 Air Transport Operations: Carriage on Aeroplanes of more than 19 Passengers or Cargo
  • SA-CATS 135 Air Transport Operations: Carriage of less than 20 Passengers or Cargo

It seems impossible to deep-link to the documents, but a complete list of acts, regulations and standards can be found here. The relevant part of the regulations can be found here (the requirements seem identical regardless of the number of passengers).

There is also a similar regulation from FAA in 14 CFR 91.519: Passenger Briefing.

  • To make it more complete, the EASA regulations (European Aviation Safety Agency) in Annex VII (air operations) says the same as well. The briefing has to be done! Jan 17 '13 at 18:17
  • Hrmm - I've been on a flight with no flight briefing at all as well; it was a private charter. Dec 20 '15 at 9:27
  • @BurhanKhalid Charters usually operate under completely different rules than scheduled airlines.
    – reirab
    Jan 31 '16 at 19:16
  • @reirab There are rules requiring passenger briefings for all three categories of passenger flights. 14 CFR 91.519 for general aviation, 14 CFR 135.117 for commuter and charter flights, and 14 CFR 121.571 for commercial air carriers. Aug 31 '16 at 22:52
  • @DavidSchwartz Yeah, that's definitely true for the U.S. I'd assume it's also true for most other countries, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some exceptions.
    – reirab
    Sep 1 '16 at 1:46

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