I’m a former flight attendant — turbulence is a ‘welcome break’

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Being stuck in a rocking metal tube may not be ideal travel conditions, but one former flight attendant has revealed why they love turbulence.

Jay Roberts, who worked for Emirates and who runs Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge network, divulged why you shouldn’t be afraid during turbulence.

“I’m not scared of it because I know the flight history data and know planes don’t crash because of turbulence,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I also know from personal work experience the chance of encountering severe turbulence is rare,” Roberts added. “So often, when I’m experiencing turbulence as a passenger or crew member, my inner child sees the dips and shakes as a rollercoaster, and I enjoy the ride.”

He cheekily added that turbulence is a “welcome break” from attending to needy passengers.

“Also, for operating flight attendants, moderate turbulence often brings a welcome break time where we can sit down and have a timeout from requests,” Roberts quipped. “It’s one of the few circumstances during which we can ignore service call bells.”

Seatbelt sign on an aircraft.
An experienced flight attendant said severe turbulence is rare.
Christopher Sadowski

The wing of a plane in the sky.
Former flight attendant Jay Roberts admitted sometimes flight attendants love turbulence.
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Roberts said turbulence can be broken up into three categories: mild, moderate and severe.

“Mild is what you typically encounter during flights,” the frequent flyer explained, describing it as “a few bumps here or there.”

“The seatbelt sign will likely come on, but the crew stay active in the cabin or move about in the galley with no change to their demeanor,” he continued. “Depending on the airline’s policy, they probably won’t reprimand passengers for ignoring the seatbelt sign and will continue to serve tea and coffee.”

During moderate turbulence, Roberts said flight staff will put away service items and pause the service of hot drinks or the service entirely.

“The crew will take their seats after ensuring everything is secure,” he said.

A passenger breathing into a white paper bag.
Roberts outlined what would happen during severe turbulence.
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According to Roberts, it’s easy to tell when you’re experiencing severe turbulence.

“Unseasoned crew members might start to panic at this point,” he noted. “A firm announcement from the pilot will probably instruct the flight attendants to be seated immediately, walking is no longer possible, and service will stop instantly.”

Roberts said when it gets to this stage, crew will find seats anywhere to avoid standing.

“Cabin crew are trained to leave their carts right where they are and to take the nearest seat, even if it means sitting on a passenger to secure themselves,” he described, adding the plane itself will make “aggressive changes” in altitude, causing any items or people to be flung around.

Flight attendant.
“Unseasoned crew members might start to panic at this point,” Roberts said about experiencing severe turbulence.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Damage to the aircraft’s interior can come from carts and passengers hitting the roof,” Roberts said. “Passengers and crew could experience injuries to their skeletal system during this rare turbulence category.”

However, he was quick to assure people that this is unlikely to happen.

“I worked as cabin crew for 13 years on some of the longest flights in the world, crisscrossing areas notorious for turbulent air, and never encountered severe turbulence,” Roberts said.

He said most of the time, pilots are unfazed by turbulence.

“[They’re usually] just trying to find ways around the bumps by going higher or around the bumpy airspace,” he said. “They turn a few dials, check the radars for weather, and return to reading their books.”

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