Before takeoff, the pilots will normally make an announcement to the passengers to welcome them onboard, and brief them on the flight details. It’s such an important part of the flight, United Airlines even based an advert around it.
Typically, you get an informative and short update from the pilots, that helps calm any pre-flight nerves and explains details about the flight. However, there are times when the Captain or Co-pilot veers off-track, and you end up hearing about their life story, instead of the weather!
Especially if you’re tired and jet-lagged, the last thing you want to hear is a long, drawn-out speech from the captain rambling about the aircraft specifications. So, what exactly do pilots say to the passengers before takeoff, and are there any rules?
Viral pre-flight PA announcement
This Delta Airlines captain managed to fit jokes, tears, and an interactive show-of-hands section, into his final pre-flight announcement.
Surprisingly, it went down well! The emotional two-and-a-half-minute story ended up going viral, with over 4 million views.
What do pilots typically say to the passengers?
1 – The requirements
Most airlines require their pilots to give a brief announcement before takeoff. Normally, the airline writes-down a list of details that the pilots must include, and then pilots are allowed to make their own PA’s around these details.
These can vary, but in general, the announcements are relatively standard across different airlines. Most pilots will typically introduce themselves and the cabin crew; state the aircraft type, flight number, and route, and remind passengers of the airline’s seatbelt policy. Also, frequently given are the flying time, and the estimated time of arrival.
The most common thing — that virtually all airlines require pilots to say to the passengers — is the specifics of the airline’s seatbelt policy. Highlighting the need to put on seatbelts is usually an airline insurance requirement, as it is one of the most important safety measures that passengers need to take. It usually sounds like this:
2 – The extras
- It’s crucial that passengers listen to the pre-flight instructions given by the cabin crew, as they contain indispensable information about what to do in an emergency. As a result, many pilots also add this onto the end of their passenger announcements.
- Pilots often use this time to thank passengers for flying with them, or to offer apologies if the passengers will experience any inconvenience, such as flight delays, or broken entertainment systems onboard.
- Occasionally, pilots use the opportunity to highlight individual facts about the aircraft or flight. For example, if the aircraft is painted in a special livery, is a brand-new model, or if they are operating a special flight.
- Finally, as seen the in the viral passenger announcements above, pilots can end up talking about themselves, their retirement, and even talking about StarWars…
Advice on what to say as a pilot
As you can see, pilot announcements can vary significantly! Most airlines don’t use a fixed script. So while pilots typically have a set of things they need to include in their passenger announcements, they are allowed to fill the gaps with whatever they want.
Every so often this goes very well, with witty or interesting PA’s met by smiles and clapping. But occasionally miss-judged announcements backfire. Spectacularly. There are plenty of examples of pilots hitting the national news headlines — with calls for them to be fired — as political opinions or bad jokes announced on the PA are recorded.
Have you ever heard a particularly great pilot announcement? We’d love to hear about it via our socials. And remember, always listen to the pre-flight instructions given by the crew!