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Secret 'silent review' carried out by flight attendants to prepare for emergency

Secret 'silent review' carried out by flight attendants to prepare for emergency

You'll have likely seen them doing it without realising

There’s a secret ‘silent review’ that’s carried out by flight attendants to prepare for an emergency, and you'll have likely clocked them doing it without ever realising what it was.

If you see them doing this, that's exactly what's happening:

You may have noticed that as planes prepare for takeoff or landing, cabin crew are instructed by the pilots to take a seat.

They go over to their designated area, often facing passengers’ seats, and buckle up, before usually just sitting there in complete silence.

Sometimes they may appear to be looking around the aircraft, although it might not seem clear what it is they're staring at.

Senior cabin crew member Patricia Green – who has 20 years of experience in aviation, from economy class to private jets - said when you see flight attendants sitting still without speaking, they’re actually ‘preparing to save lives’ in the event of an emergency.

It's also known as a 30-second or 60-second review.

That’s because they’re performing what’s known as a 'silent review' – sometimes also called a 30-second or 60-second review – which is carried out during the critical phases of a flight.

It simply allows them to assess their surroundings and revise important safety procedures, should they be required to jump into action.

Writing for Simple Flying, Green said: “Your nearby cabin crew most likely will not be talking to passengers on take-off or landing, and you may think they are just thinking about dinner that night.

“This is what they are actually doing to prepare for the best outcome should there be an emergency evacuation. They are preparing to save lives.”

If you see a silent review in action, it doesn’t mean you’re in danger – quite the opposite, in fact, as it’s more of a preventative measure to help crew know what to do should the occasion arise.

Green explained how a number of airlines use acronyms to help cabin crew remember the review, although it varies from place to place.

Some go for the ‘OLDABC’ system, which stands for:

O - Operation of exit

L - Location of emergency equipment

D - Drills

A - ABPs [able-bodied passengers] and special assistance passengers

B - Brace position

C - Commands

Others may use ‘ALERT’ system, which stands for:

A - Aircraft type

L - Location

E- Equipment

R - Responsibility

T - Threat

Rosie Awad, who has been a flight attendant for nearly 10 years, said this is also exactly what she and colleagues do at Virgin Australia after welcoming passengers on board.

Like Green, she’s keen to point out that flight attendants aren’t just staring blankly into space when they’re sitting in their dedicated seats just before take off and landing.

Instead, they are performing a silent review during the key moments of the journey.

"A silent review for us [at Virgin Australia] is when the crew mentally go through the emergency procedures and equipment in their designated area,” Awad told

They may seem to just be sitting and staring into silence, but they're actually performing a 'silent review'.

“The takeoff and landing can also be known to be critical phases of the flight so we need to be ready to jump into action if needed."

According to aircraft manufacturer Airbus, there are a number of benefits for incorporating silent reviews into standard procedure on board, saying it’s not just about giving staff a chance to remember what to do.


“The silent review (or 30-second review) is recommended for cabin crew to mentally recall the key aspects of the emergency evacuation procedure while they are seated at their station before each takeoff and landing, and decreases the risk of distraction,” its website explains.

“This silent review will help the cabin crew to focus and be prepared in case an emergency evacuation is required.

“This technique will also help to minimize the startle effect.”

So next time you see a flight attendant sitting in their seat in silence, you’re probably best off leaving them to it and waiting to ask them when they're bringing the booze out.

Featured Image Credit: DuKai photographer/Getty

Topics: Travel