Experts provide tips on staying safe on flights with severe turbulence

Dozens of people were injured in two separate flights that experienced severe turbulence.   

First on Sunday, 36 people were injured when a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu suddenly hit severe turbulence just 30 minutes before landing. Some people were taken to the hospital with head injuries and bruising and portions of the aircraft’s interior had cracked from harsh impact.  

MORE: 11 people seriously injured amid turbulence on Hawaii flight from Phoenix

Then around 5:30 a.m. Monday, a United Airlines flight from Rio De Janiero to Houston also experienced severe turbulence and sent five people to the hospital with minor injuries.   

Airport officials say more than 3.4 million travelers are expected to travel through Houston this holiday week.

"Flights don't dispatch if there's extreme conditions. There's a reason why they cut flights off when a hurricane is coming, they know the weather is going to be unpredictable. The en-route stuff is a little bit more challenging," said Janine Iannarelli, Founder & President of Par Avion LTD.

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Iannarelli is a Houston-based aviation expert who flies more than 100,000 miles every year through commercial and private aircrafts. She says the best way passengers can protect themselves in-flight is to wear their seatbelts properly and avoid walking around mid-flight.   

"Low and tight across the hips, that not only secures the seat belt and keeps you close to the seat but remember, protects your internal organs to a certain degree. I mean, you don't want a loose seat belt that you are stretching up against and then maybe being thrown back into your seat in rough weather. As far as how to sit -- comfortably. I don't think it's going to make a difference whether you cross legs or keep your feet flat on the floor," said Iannarelli.


Iannarelli also suggests bringing carry-on bags that can properly zip-up, including those that remain under the seat to help prevent your valuables from flying out. When possible, Iannarelli says travelers should be checking in their bags. 

"Check your luggage rather than carry-on in the cabin because the less potential projectiles, the better for everybody concerned," Iannarelli said. 

The NTSB is now investigating the Hawaiian Airlines incident and will release more details later.