Inflight announcements: how many are too many?

By Chris Chamberlin, November 29 2018

TALKING POINT | Whether it’s the safety demonstration, the “prepare for landing” call or the pleasant “welcome to X where the local time is…”, inflight announcements are commonplace when jetting about, and many of them share useful information with passengers for their journey ahead.

But how many cabin announcements are too many, and when do those PAs transition from being helpful to just downright bothersome?

Of course, the longer a flight, the more announcements you’d expect to hear from take-off to touchdown – but, if I had to put a number on it, I think it’s fair to say that 23 announcements on a 90-minute flight takes things just a stretch too far.

That’s how many I counted on a recent 500-mile hop from Taipei to Hong Kong with Hong Kong Airlines: a flight that’s scheduled at two hours from gate to gate, but which generally clocks in at 75-100 minutes, depending on airport congestion.

Even at the upper end of the spectrum, 23 announcements in 100 minutes averages one interruption every four minutes and 20 seconds for the entire journey – and that’s counting dual-language announcements as the one PA call, meaning up to 46 interruptions when you're trying to work or watch a movie.

Regular (and unnecessary) announcements become even more of an issue on overnight flights where sleep is the priority, such as I’ve observed in the past with Malindo Air on a flight to Brisbane, where cabin crew made unnecessary PAs throughout the journey and kept waking passengers up in the middle of the night.

So, over to you – at what point do inflight announcements become bothersome, and should airlines keep these to an absolute minimum, especially on overnight flights? Share your thoughts with others in the comment box below!

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

JKH

JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 127

Fully appreciate what you’re saying Chris! I get that the mandatory pre-departure and safety ones have to happen. The landing ones need to be trimmed as we just don’t care about 90% of what’s being said. Some airlines/crews just don’t get that customers want them to leave their pa devices alone.

flyOFTEN

flyOFTEN

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 129

many times, you get different people giving basically the same info. Lack of communication between cabin crew & cockpit crew.

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

Spot on Chris! The announcements are becoming a bit too much.
These days I just want to get on board, start my work/movie and not have my train of thought broken every 5 minutes. Any announcements beyond those that are necessary are just irritating now. And also the crew can sometimes be over bearing too. For example, if I'm tucking into my meal and watching a video then I don't need to be asked if everything is fine with my meal.
Of course everything is fine, that's why I'm enjoying and watching my movie! If something was wrong I'd push my call button and tell you!
When I want to have a chit chat with the crew I'll go to the galley and if they're not busy and look like they want a chat then I'll chat, the rest of the time let's leave each other alone to do our things!

harko

harko

05 Jul 2016

Total posts 16

Don‘t get me started about Cathay, super annoying, long and unnecessary announcements often in three languages (English, Cantonese and Mandarin, sometimes additional local language of the destination, in Sri Lanka‘s case two local languages!!). Often bullshit ones such as duty free promotions as if I was flying on Ryanair. Also don‘t understand why they can’t make all the safety announcements prior to take-off and not bother us after wheels-up.

jtung

jtung

15 Aug 2018

Total posts 8

They are just promoting their duty free, as an example, a typical Sydney-Hong Kong flight, does not have too many announcements, apart from the typical ones, about the destination (weather, time) and safety instructions.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 149

Agreed, too many announcements are a pain especially when they are unnecessary. I totally accept that some are important - I like to know who is flying the plane, how long the flight will be, what the weather is expected to be like. And of course one when it's time to secure the cabin.

As someone that always does what the crew usually suggests during the welcome announcement (and usually highlighted in the safety video) and fastens my seatbelt on top of my blanket when I sleep it annoys me when some airlines make an announcement every time the seatbelt sign comes on during a night flight. BA isn't by favourite airline by a long shot but I like the mentality they have when the seatbelt sign goes on inflight - they don't make an announcement instead just waking the silly people that can't use common sense or follow a simple instruction.

On a loco I totally expect and accept more announcements. Auxillary revenue is their raison d'etre so it's part of the deal.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 388

What about the personal welcome to high status fliers and the crew go to the wrong person, or they are always checking their I-pad rather than working it out in advance and writing discretely on a piece of paper; or they ignore partner/spouse sitting next to them in the chat. This is on top of long winded announcements in 2-3 languages already mentioned.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Regular on QF long haul. They get it about right. During the long Indian or Pacific ocean runs at night they only come on the PA when turbulence is forecast. Otherwise usual announcements for take off and landing. Thankfully no more duty free. I wonder if they also need to make these announcements for legal reasons. The PAX are in the care of the airline and if something goes wrong then the carrier is at fault potentially unless the PAX was not wearing a belt or following other instruction.

blingwad

blingwad

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2015

Total posts 67

HKG-BKK recently on CX 2 hours 30 mins and I can’t finish a movie says a lot about their announcements. On qantas I pretty much accept im not going to watch anything for the last 45mins due to the interruptions. If my drinks are full and im eating my meal I don’t need to be asked how its all going, its going well.

They need to tone it down.

GBRGB

GBRGB

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 208

Even domestic are becoming far too long and too many , you notice it most when using the IFE that keeps pausing for the announcement.

aussie-flyer

aussie-flyer

08 May 2017

Total posts 10

Or on American Airlines when they force you to listen to the credit card big sell!

mushmush

mushmush

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

14 Nov 2013

Total posts 42

Chris you are spot on, QF has got it right in my opinion as has VA. SQ up until about a year ago was like CX and then it stopped, i asked the cabin manager once about it and he said that there had been s o many complaints from passengers that management had no choice but to tone it down.

pearsonlive

pearsonlive

10 Jul 2015

Total posts 8

Worst I had was Easyjet to Basel. All announcements in English, French and German and being a budget airline along with the usual boarding/safety announcements, it included

- Meal service

- Collection of foreign coins for charity

- Scratch cards

- Duty Free including detailed list of current specials

- Discounted trolley service items as final flight of the day

On a 2h30 flight, there was not much quiet time.

kdewsnap

kdewsnap

QF

11 Sep 2012

Total posts 20

I was once doing DXB-LHR with QF, and we were delayed after boarding. The captain was Richard de Crespigny of QF32 fame. He just kept on giving us facts about the A380 unitl we were ready for push-back. All about this size, the amount of air the engines inhale every second, how many cars could be parked on the wingspan etc. All very interesting for a plane nerd like me, but I could see a few people around getting a bit tired of it.

sid

sid

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jan 2011

Total posts 38

A recent flight on Asiana was bizarre. 45 mins in to the flight, after most people had started their movies, they decided to play a 2min promo for their duty free, and then made 3 more announcements during the rest of the flight!

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 510

I flew CGK to SIN on Jetstar Asia yesterday and the announcements were more than I had ever experienced. Given everything was announced in English and Bahasa, the announcements went for about 15 minutes after take-off; the poor flight attendant was going hoarse!

Carrots

Carrots

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 28

They make announcements on flights? Didn't notice whilst watching the latest Netflix binge on my iPad... Oops.

UpUpAndAway

UpUpAndAway

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 279

My pet hate with announcements is when you can't even understand what they are staying.

Sparra14

Sparra14

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jan 2015

Total posts 3

Not only are the number of PAs annoying, the volume can be unbearable for the QF safety video. Loud, I guess to make you pay attention but if you have started your IFE it is excruciatingly loud.

themmc

themmc

10 May 2018

Total posts 2

It's not just the number, but the length. Some are just endless rambling nonsense with pauses etc.

The issue I see with too many and too many long ones is - everyone just starts ignoring them.

cgm

cgm

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 8

I get annoyed near the end of a QF flight when a series of short announcements interrupt the movie I am watching. Why can't they combine these into one longer announcement which would mean fewer interruptions to my concentration?

therealdave

therealdave

09 Dec 2016

Total posts 9

Totally agree on too many announcements and especially when there are a series of short announcement rather than combined into one - on both domestic and international flights. I end up with my noise cancelling headset on listening to music from my phone to block them all out - which means if there is actually an important non-routine message I miss it!

Kogglogs

Kogglogs

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 147

I particularly love how announcements are strategically cued to occur juuuuust as I'm about to adjust the IFE in someway and therefore locked from doing so until 700 minutes later when the announcement finally finishes. Then I go to attempt the IFE adjustment again and the same announcement starts again but in Cantonese. Rinse, repeat several more times. Sigh.

Too Technical

Too Technical

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2016

Total posts 40

I think they can get away with the obligatory, "we are about to dim the lights" announcements, especially during the day.

banana0692

banana0692

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Oct 2016

Total posts 16

I hate it when I am trying to use the IFE and even after the announcement is finished there is an extended period until they put the phone back to stop the announcement and let the IFE start again. On a recent flight it was stuck on the announcement screen for several minutes after they finished talking.

dacom

dacom

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Dec 2013

Total posts 1

My biggest gripe is on some flights the volume of the announcement is deafening, to the point of being painful.

ads086

ads086

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 43

My preference is “welcome, your crew are Susie, Joanne and Leonard and now the safety dance”, then pre-recorded clips.

I’m expecting refreshment and meal services unless you say otherwise, and figure that’s why they gave out a menu.

I then just need the “prepare cabin for landing” from the pilots followed by the recorded trays up procedure.

Anything else seems a bit too much, but I can appreciate others who fly less frequently may derive value from them.

CabinCrew

CabinCrew

Etihad - Etihad Guest

01 Dec 2018

Total posts 6

The FAA and EASA compel all Passenger Airlines to provide Safety announcements on board.

They are specific for each type of aircraft and flight.

The commercial announcements are up to each airline.

In my opinion, the announcements have to be brief and clear.

EdS

EdS

QF

21 Jul 2016

Total posts 37

The loud announcements are so they can be heard above the sound of people chattering.

samueljones561

samueljones561

17 Oct 2017

Total posts 11

I would love if you could select your preferred language on your entertainment screen and it would only then feed through that language. Then return to whatever you were watching when the other languages are playing.

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2916

Lufthansa has that feature on its Boeing 747-8s - it's great!

Steve987

Steve987

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 249

Given most of the messages (on most airlines anyway) are pre-recorded and the video delivery is via Back of seat or personal device, surely they could ask people when booking what their preferred language is and then run them all simultaneously? That way the broadcast message (ie not through headphones) could just be a language by language request to put on your headphones!

jwoww

jwoww

21 May 2017

Total posts 2

not everyone sits in the assigned seat according to their ticket, especially asians who don't understand you when you tell them to move because they are in your seat by the window so you just take the seat in the aisle

S

S

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 104

This is one of the reasons I don’t use airline’s IFE anymore. I take along my iPad loaded up with Netflix so I can watch start to finish with no announcements or interruptions.

Rotate

Rotate

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 23

The new AirNZ safety video last week pushed me over the edge. Enough is enough. Please stop. Just stop.

eddies

eddies

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 21

Overzealous CSM’s pashing the mic, shattering everybody’s IFE eardrums has to be stopped. Mix or attenuate the PA volume so it is lower than media. Cabin speakers no change. I have written to QF about this more than once.

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