"Summer Travel Safety "
J. Randolph Babbitt, Washington, DC
May 23, 2011

Summer Travel Safety Press Conference with the Association of Flight Attendants

I want to thank everyone for coming out to join us today.

Memorial Day kicks off the traditional summer travel season.  Millions of people will take to the skies every day this summer.

While the FAA will be working hard to keep your flights on time and your delays to a minimum, our core mission is safety. 

We’re here today with our friends and colleagues at the Association of Flight Attendants to demonstrate our collective commitment to keeping you safe as you travel around the country this summer.

But we’re also here to ask for your help.  Aviation safety isn’t just our job or the flight attendants’ job – it takes all of us.

Everyone who boards a plane these days has somewhere they needed to be ten minutes ago.  We’re all busy. 

But we all need to think about safety – even just for a minute. 

We are asking every passenger to follow some tips that will not only keep you safe this summer but keep your fellow travelers safe as well.

As many of you know I’m a former commercial airline pilot so while I want you to sit back, relax and enjoy the press conference, I really do want to call your attention to the best safety practices for air travel.

It starts with paying attention to the flight attendant safety briefing at the beginning of your flight. 

While it may be tempting to bypass the safety briefing card for the SkyMall magazine, please DO take the time to read that card, know where the exits are and have a plan.

When you are asked to locate the nearest exit, please do glance around. It will give you an excuse to see who is sitting behind you and it will also give you an idea of how far away you are from an exit.

We are proud of our aviation safety record but if something were to happen you need to already have thought about how to exit the aircraft safely and efficiently.

As a former commercial pilot I know that turbulence can happen when you least expect it – I encourage every passenger to buckle up at all times when they’re in the air, even when the fasten seat belt sign is turned off.

For parents or caregivers traveling with children under 40 pounds – use an approved child safety seat or device (like the ones you see here).  The safest place for a child on an airplane is in one of these approved child restraints, not on a parent’s lap.

We are working hard to get this message out and I want to thank Toys ‘R US, for agreeing to share this important information on their website.

Anyone who flies has probably noticed that the overhead bins are getting a little more crowded lately. For those who do not check their bags, it can be a safety issue to ignore an airline’s carry-on restrictions. 

Limits for carry-on baggage reduce injuries to both passengers and flight attendants, especially during the boarding process.

But these limits also allow flight attendants to concentrate on the task of ensuring your safety and security.

And finally listen to your cabin crew.  Whether they are asking you to shut down that personal electronic device, or they are checking to make sure you are buckled up or making sure your carry-on baggage is stowed securely – they are there for your safety.

As a pilot, I know firsthand what a critical role flight attendants play in keeping passengers safe.

Now I’d like to introduce AFA President Veda Shook.  A long-time safety advocate for both cabin crews and passengers, Veda will give her valuable perspective on what we can all do to stay safe in the air.