Inflight announcements: how many are too many?

Inflight announcements: how many are too many?

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!

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business 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!
 

37 comments

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    29 Nov, 2018 11:07 pm

    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.
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  • flyOFTEN

    flyOFTEN

    30 Nov, 2018 03:34 pm

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

    fxdxdy

    29 Nov, 2018 11:24 pm

    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!

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  • harko

    harko

    30 Nov, 2018 02:09 am

    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.
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  • jtung

    jtung

    30 Nov, 2018 09:16 am

    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.

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  • Jason

    cooper81

    30 Nov, 2018 03:18 am

    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.
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    30 Nov, 2018 06:52 am

    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.
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  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    30 Nov, 2018 07:54 am

    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.
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  • Cameron Hocking

    blingwad

    30 Nov, 2018 08:05 am

    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.

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  • GBRGB

    GBRGB

    30 Nov, 2018 08:31 am

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

    aussie-flyer

    30 Nov, 2018 08:50 am

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

    mushmush

    30 Nov, 2018 09:31 am

    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.
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  • pearsonlive

    pearsonlive

    30 Nov, 2018 09:42 am

    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.
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  • Kristian

    kdewsnap

    30 Nov, 2018 10:07 am

    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.
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  • Siddharth Raja

    sid

    30 Nov, 2018 10:11 am

    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!
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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    30 Nov, 2018 10:31 am

    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!
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  • James C

    Carrots

    30 Nov, 2018 10:52 am

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

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  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    30 Nov, 2018 11:17 am

    My pet hate with announcements is when you can't even understand what they are staying.
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  • Sparra14

    Sparra14

    30 Nov, 2018 12:22 pm

    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.
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  • Matthew Moyle-Croft

    themmc

    30 Nov, 2018 12:28 pm

    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.
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  • cgm

    cgm

    30 Nov, 2018 01:27 pm

    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?
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  • therealdave

    therealdave

    1 Dec, 2018 09:25 am

    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!
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  • Kogglogs

    Kogglogs

    30 Nov, 2018 02:07 pm

    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.
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  • Stefan

    Too Technical

    30 Nov, 2018 05:55 pm

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

    banana0692

    30 Nov, 2018 08:12 pm

    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.
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  • Oliver Costa

    dacom

    30 Nov, 2018 08:14 pm

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

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  • Adam

    ads086

    1 Dec, 2018 02:14 am

    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.
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  • Baltasar  Llarena

    CabinCrew

    1 Dec, 2018 02:41 am

    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.


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  • EdS

    EdS

    1 Dec, 2018 09:45 am

    The loud announcements are so they can be heard above the sound of people chattering.
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  • samueljones561

    samueljones561

    1 Dec, 2018 01:33 pm

    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.
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    1 Dec, 2018 01:35 pm

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

    Celestarsyd

    3 Dec, 2018 02:31 pm

    Cathay Pacific desperately need this feature. Sitting through 3-4 different languages on most flights is my pet frustration, particularly as there is a 5-30sec gap between each language announcement which is just enough for your movie to restart before it pauses yet again.
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  • Steve987

    Steve987

    2 Dec, 2018 09:34 am

    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!
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  • jwoww

    jwoww

    2 Dec, 2018 10:04 am

    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
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  • S

    S

    2 Dec, 2018 01:58 pm

    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.
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  • Rotate

    Rotate

    3 Dec, 2018 04:33 pm

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

    eddies

    3 Dec, 2018 10:17 pm

    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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26 May, 2019 05:59 am

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