United Airlines is implementing a new rule for flight attendants that will lead to cabins being prepared for landing earlier than at present in an effort to protect them from injury from turbulence.
United Airlines Implements New Rule To Protect Flight Attendants
Effective December 1, 2023, flight attendants must be safely buckled into their jumpseats for landing no later than the double chime, at approximately 10,000 feet above ground.
In a memo reviewed by Live And Let’s Fly, this is being implemented for safety reasons.
This new standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed by the collaborative hard work of multiple departments, including Inflight, Flight Operations, AFA, ALPA, Corporate Safety and was approved by the highest levels of United leadership. United conducted Line Operations Safety Assessments (LOSA) with the help of AFA and ALPA. This included pilots observing turbulence SOPs in the flight deck and flight attendants in the forward and aft cabins. These observation narratives and other data were analyzed to help create our new SOP.
At lower flight altitudes, the pilots are conducting approach maneuvers and aircraft sensor data has shown an elevated risk for turbulence. Flight attendants have sustained significant injuries in the final approach phase of flight, and data indicates a higher risk when they are not buckled in at this point. Simply put, it’s not safe to be up. The goal of this new procedure is to reduce flight attendant low altitude injuries.
Thus, starting next month flight attendants will more quickly clean and secure the cabins at the top of the descent. A pilot will say, “Flight attendants, please prepare the cabin for landing” above 10,000 feet, giving flight attendants time to make final cabin preparation in order to be strapped into their jumpseats ahead of the double chime.
The practical effect will be that service will end earlier. Trash will be collected earlier and beverage service will end earlier.
Currently, it is upon the double chime that seatbacks must be placed into their full, upright, and locked position for landing…every moment of sleep becomes so important on a redeye flight. Though not explicitly stated in the memo, I would expect that flight attendants will ask that seats and tray tables be retracted earlier than is currently required to avoid having to rely upon the passenger honor system.
Starting on December 1st, United Airlines will ask flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing earlier. This is being done to “reduce flight attendant low altitude injuries.” Practically, we will see service end earlier and the cabin prepared for landing a bit sooner than most are currently unaccustomed to.
If this meaningfully protects flight attendants from injury, I support this move.