Singapore Airlines changes seatbelt rules, route after fatal turbulence

Airline says it has adopted ‘more cautious approach’ after incident that killed one person and injured dozens.

Singapore airlines
Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 was hit by extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar on Tuesday [Reuters]

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has changed its seat belt rules and altered at least one flight route after a bout of extreme turbulence killed one passenger and left dozens of others hospitalised.

A 73-year-old British man died of a suspected heart attack and dozens of passengers were injured on Tuesday when their flight from London to Singapore was buffeted by severe turbulence, forcing an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Following the incident, Singapore’s flag carrier has adopted “a more cautious approach to managing turbulence in-flight”, SIA told Al Jazeera in a statement on Friday.

Under the revised policy, meal service will no longer be provided when the seat belt sign is on, the airline said.

Cabin crew will also continue to secure all loose items and equipment during poor weather conditions and continue to advise passengers to return to their seats and secure their seat belts.

“Pilots and cabin crew are aware of the hazards associated with turbulence. They are also trained to assist customers and ensure cabin safety throughout the flight,” an SIA spokesperson said.

“SIA will continue to review our processes as the safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance.”

SIA has also avoided flying over the region of Myanmar where the turbulence occurred when travelling between London and Singapore, flying over the Bay of Bengal instead, according to route data on flight tracking site Flightradar24.

During Tuesday’s incident, passengers were slammed into the ceiling of the aircraft and personal belongings and food were thrown around the cabin.

Forty-six passengers and two crew members, including citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines, were being treated in hospital in Bangkok as of late Thursday.

Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, director of Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, told reporters that more than 20 of those were in intensive care with spinal cord, brain and skull injuries.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies