Passengers Evacuate With Luggage in Chicago Runway Fire

It’s Time to Get Serious About the Safety Demo.


October 29, 2016

HERE WE GO AGAIN. Yet another incident with passengers taking their bags during an evacuation. This time it was last Friday, after an American Airlines 767 caught fire on takeoff from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. During the evacuation — as has become the appalling new normal in evacuations — passengers could be seen leaving the aircraft with their carry-ons.

What makes this behavior so dangerous should hardly need explaining. In situation where seconds can mean the difference between life and death, luggage slows people down, impedes access to the aisles and exits, and turns the escape slides into a deadly slalom.

And this was no precautionary evacuation. The plane’s right engine had caught fire, and flames and smoke were billowing around the wing. With thousands of gallons of kerosene inside that wing’s fuel tanks, there was danger of a catastrophic explosion. Nonetheless, video footage and photos show passengers hauling their bags from the aircraft.

Maybe the evacuation process seemed orderly and calm, but how would things have unfolded had there been an explosion, and had the smoke and fire suddenly spread inside the plane? We imagine a mad rush for the exits, but now the aisle is clogged with suitcases dropped by panicked passengers. We recall the fate of Air Canada flight 797 in Cincinnati. The DC-9 made a successful emergency landing due to an on-board fire, but twenty-three people died because they couldn’t get out fast enough after the evacuation began. And that was in 1983, well before oversized carry-ons were the norm.

I realize that being protective of your things is second nature, and grabbing a small purse or bag containing medicine or other essentials is one thing, but your computer, your toiletries, your underwear and your Sudoku books — all of those things can be replaced and aren’t worth risking your life over. Not to mention the lives of those behind you, who can’t get to the door because your overstuffed roll-aboard is in the way.

And although you can’t always see it in videos or photos, those slides are extremely steep. They are not designed with convenience in mind. They are designed for no other purpose than to empty a plane of its occupants as rapidly as possible. You’ll be coming down from over two stories high in the case of a widebody jet, at a very rapid clip, with others doing the same in front of you and right behind you. Even without bags people are often injured going down the slides. This is expected. Add carry-ons to the mix and somebody is liable to be seriously hurt, or even killed — smacked on the head by somebody’s suitcase or baby stroller.

Evacuation Idiocy

Evacuation Idiocy 2

When an evacuation is initiated, cabin crews are trained to loudly and clearly instruct passengers to leave their things behind. In Chicago on Friday, flight attendants reportedly did just that (as did some justifiably concerned passengers, bless them). The problem is, a certain number of people, either willfully or simply out of reflex, aren’t going to listen. There have been different proposals, from restricting the number of carry-ons to locking the overhead bins during arrival and departure. Ultimately, though, it comes down to passenger awareness. And one of the best ways to stoke this awareness would be to better emphasize the issue during the pre-flight safety demonstration.

As they exist today, the safety demos are numbingly tedious. Even as carriers try to out-cute one another with their video presentations — further underscoring their irrelevancy as a genuine safety measure — they are crammed with the equivalent of legal fine print. Nobody pays attention, and we can hardly blame them: “At this time we do ask that you please return your seat backs to their full and upright positions.” Why not “Please raise your seat backs?” Or, my favorite: “Federal law prohibits tampering with, disabling, or destroying any lavatory smoke detector.” Excuse me, but are those not the same bloody things? Doesn’t “tampering with” pretty much cover it? Amidst all the redundancies, the vapid niceties and the dreary airline-ese, the demos go on for minutes at a time with confusing and unnecessary instructions about the use of electronic devices, the minutiae of putting on an oxygen mask, and impossibly complex tutorials on how to don a flotation device — things nobody will remember in the throes of an actual emergency. Yet they leave out entirely the short, simple, and far more valuable admonition to LEAVE YOUR DAMN THINGS BEHIND DURING AN EVACUATION!

With a little common sense, the fatty babble of the typical briefing could easily be trimmed to a quarter or less of its length, resulting in a lucid presentation that people might actually listen to. Ninety seconds, tops. And among the bullet-points should be the clear instruction not to take your stuff should the need arise to evacuate. Will everybody get the message? Probably not, but some will. At least passengers have heard it, and that can have important consequences should something unforeseen occur.

Again, it all comes down to awareness. We can help raise that awareness by overhauling the safety briefing, or wait and let it happen the hard way, when hand luggage contributes to a tragedy.

Evacuation, Air France

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64 Responses to “Passengers Evacuate With Luggage in Chicago Runway Fire”
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  1. Martyn Sinclair says:

    This problem will continue until airlines restrict the amount of hand baggage being bought on board. My take off routine, is to have my passport, cell phone and wallet in a small pouch, just in case.

  2. AG says:

    It should be against the law to take anything (with the exception of the things mentioned in the article) off a plane in an emergency! Many people are idiots which is their own business until their greed & stupidity gets someone else killed.

  3. Art Knight says:

    By the way, “Soul Plane” is my favorite airline movie ever! So many great lines, but my favorite is when the flight attendant looks at the boarding pass and says “Oh, you be in Low-Class!”

  4. Art Knight says:

    And, Virgin was inspired by “Soul Plane” from 2004.

  5. Steve Austen says:

    I got into a slightly fiery debate on another website about this when I suggested ever so gently that perhaps people’s behaviour was at least understandable when you consider that being stuck in a foreign country with 3 small children, no money, no phone, no passports, no keys, no id, no medicine etc might feel to anyone except the aircrew like a life-threatening situation. But I also see the counter-argument very strongly too. The result is I have bought one of those geeky vests with loads of large pockets. Now when I get on a plane or a ferry, I put everything essential in the pockets, keep it on constantly, and resolve never to reach for anything else except the kids in an emergency.

  6. Jay Becker says:

    You are right about the instructions given before takeoff. What’s worse, is that some of the airlines have set the instructions to today’s awful music-the hip hop and rap, and incorporated a dance program, making the entire message more irrelevant. Personally, I turn off from it, as I can’t stand the stupidity of it. I could see leaving the carryons, and yet there are some times when some extremely valuable and irreplaceable things are in the bag that is put under the seat, so the temptation to protect it is understandable.

  7. Simon says:

    While I agree that might solve the situation during takeoff and landing, I’m all but certain that would be catastrophic in case of emergency evacuations.

    How many people will block the aisles as they fight with the locked bins? It will be announced over the PA in advance so people will know, you say? Well to that my answer is, it’s already being announced today not to bring along stuff and look at how well people pay attention to that!

  8. Hilton says:

    Simple. Everything except, say, a handbag should be confiscated from evacuees, to be returned days later on payment of a heavy fine. This will cause such righteous outrage to the press that the message might get through.
    In the golden age of flying buying a ticket also bought you a $2 zippered plastic bag. You could take anything on board – as long as it fitted in it. Sigh.

  9. Michael Smith says:

    There is a very simple and obvious solution. Have the overhead lockers lock in an emergency.
    Problem solved.

    • RobertT says:

      See comment #7.
      The days of the passport book are nearing the end. The passport card will displace the book. If chip credit/debit cards can be virtually universal, so can a passport card.
      Confiscate carry-ons during an emergency evacuation?? Who is to do the confiscating?

  10. Jim Houghton says:

    Actually, it all comes down to locking the overhead bins during departure and landing. Counting on people to do the right thing, be smart and think of others — good luck with that.

  11. Geoff G. says:

    I really don’t think changing the safety video is going to make a lick of difference in this situation.

    What I do think should happen is evacuation certification tests for aircraft should be updated to reflect what we now know is the real world scenario of people taking their luggage with them.

    1) The test should be performed not with Boeing or Airbus employees but random people.

    2) The test should be performed with a large percentage of the passengers taking at least one piece of baggage with them.

    This would give us a more accurate representation of how long it actually takes to evacuate an aircraft.

  12. Ian Cooper says:

    A few years back I was taking an evening flt from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto and passengers were mostly seniors returning from winter holidays in Fort Lauderdale area. The take off was aborted just before lift off following a loud bang and we came to a stop near the end of the runway in the dark. On the overhead speaker we heard the tower and pilot talking and the tower told the pilot that they saw flames coming from the engine at the rear. The order to evacuate was given and immediately the flight attendants began screaming at passengers to get out and leave everything behind. The flight attendants were really really screaming and I thought they had lost it. Passengers took to the exits as they were told. The suppressant killed the fire before the fire trucks arrived and I was left with another passenger at the bottom of an exit slide looking after a lady with a broken ankle. The three of us ended up in the crew bus and they were high fiveing each other on the successful evacuation. They told me that their elevated screaming was to motivate the passengers to leave all their belongings and get out via the exits pronto. It worked. No one stopped to grab their luggage or duty free booze. The bang was a piece of the engine breaking off and ripping into the fuel line and the on board fire suppressant killed the brief fire. Passengers were put up in a hotel and received replacement vouchers for damaged clothing and fancy breakfast and flight home on newer plane.

  13. UncleStu says:

    I especially like the woman in the first picture talking on her cell phone while fleeing the burning plane. How did she find the self-control to wait until she left the chute? (snark!)

    Here’s couple of suggestions. I’m curious about your thoughts on these, Patrick.

    Lock all overhead bins until arrival at the gate, then they would be remotely released – only by the flight crew.


    Nothing larger than a handbag allowed in the seat – no under seat storage. If it isn’t carried in your lap, it goes in the overhead.

    I can hear the wailing now, but I don’t care – at all.

    It might be me or my family that dies because of these over-entitled jerks.

    • RobertT says:

      I have seen a woman talking on the phone while losing control of her car, slewing it around as it skidded off the road onto the grass. She didn’t miss a syllable throughout the near rollover. Got out of her car, chatting as she walked around the car, got back in, started up and then headed on.

  14. Katherine says:

    Sorry, this was meant to be in reply to the lady who mentioned the differences in seatbelts between cars and aircraft.

  15. Katherine says:

    Sir, your fears are not unfounded. Knowng what ai know, I woukd not want to be a wheelchair passenger on an airplane.

  16. Katherine says:

    This is true and we were taught this in our initial training ( former flight attendant) although I commented on this to Patrick once and he poo-poohed it. But it’s the same idea…every second counts in getting out and some passengers will remember they heard “lift” and “buckle”.

    To the subject at hand, Patrick is right and as a Safety and Emergency Procedures instructor at my second airline I fought to get wording about leaving carry-ons behind, to no avail. I never had an emergency evacuation, thank goodness, but the thought of passengers doing this has always struck fear in my heart.

  17. Traci says:

    “The reason that people take their luggage on evacuations is because they don’t want to lose their luggage. Period.

    They don’t want to be without their belongings at the destination. I know that I would be really f**ed if I lost my laptop — always with me. I could not make a living without it and even though I have backups and the money it would take days before I could get back up and running. Nonetheless I would leave it behind as instructed but I think I am about 1 out of 20 that would under that kind of pressure.You will have to lock the overhead bins.

    They will still grab what is under the seat but that is much less of a problem. Fines won’t work. No presentation change will work.”


  18. Alan says:

    The reason that people take their luggage on evacuations is because they don’t want to lose their luggage. Period.

    They don’t want to be without their belongings at the destination. I know that I would be really f**ed if I lost my laptop — always with me. I could not make a living without it and even though I have backups and the money it would take days before I could get back up and running. Nonetheless I would leave it behind as instructed but I think I am about 1 out of 20 that would under that kind of pressure.

    You will have to lock the overhead bins. They will still grab what is under the seat but that is much less of a problem. Fines won’t work. No presentation change will work.

  19. Napoleon Borntoparty says:

    I can just see it now:

    “Hey, look, the plane’s on fire!”
    “We gotta get outta here!”
    “Gimme a sec to grab my laptop. It’s not like I’m gonna die if I don’t get out of here in 30 seconds. Can you hand me my bag?”

  20. Pat Osborne says:

    Shouldn’t these people be fined, prosecuted or barred from flying for a period of time? That would send a message.

    The airlines are partly to blame too. Charging for bags encourages people to bring bags on as carry-ons and frequently they don’t even comply with the airline’s dimensional requirements.

    Pilots can be just as dumb. There’s a video of a FedEX plane burning in Memphis and the pilots are tossing their crew bags down to the rescuers.

  21. MW says:

    A bit of aviation safety news I missed first time around:

    On October 11, a runway incursion at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport caused a near collision, averted by the pilot of China Eastern Airlines MU5643 (an A320) taking off early to avoid MU5106 (an A330 which had recently landed) which was crossing the runway.

    Preliminary investigation has put fault primarily on air traffic controllers, and secondarily on the A330 crew. The A320 captain is being hailed as a hero.

    An English language summary:
    Warning: the link in that article to “The People’s Daily” is (utterly gratuitously) NSFW. (It contains much more detail, in very poor auto-translation, plus a photo of a posing scantily clad young lady.)

    Computer reconstruction of the incident:

  22. Dan Prall says:

    May I present one of my favorite stories by John Varley; Air Raid, later expanded to the novel Millennium, where the instruction started with “Listen up, *otherf*ckers”. That got their attention!

    Seriously, to get the attention of passengers today, you have to shock them first. Then that becomes routine, so it’s a constant problem.

    It’s the lobster problem. Put a pot of cool water on the stove and they won’t notice the increasing heat.

    The end solution? Whack each of them not paying attention during the briefing upside the head with a 2 by 4, and add that into the Contract of Carriage. Don’t listen? Prepare to be whacked.

    It’s the only way to go.

  23. Kevin Brady says:

    Want to get their attention? Announce that in an evacuation, anymore taking belongings will have 100,000 miles deducted from their frequent flyer account, and those leaving them behind will have 100,000 miles added – I guarantee you everyone will remember and comment to their seatmate-what people will do for miles is just incredible- take my word for it as someone who managed Pan Am’s frequent flyer program for 2 years.

  24. Pedro Morais says:

    My suggestion:

    To develop an autolock mechanism in the luggage trays that would deploy and lock the trays in case of an emergency situation.

    Not only the trays would automatically lock, but also a luminous sign would light on close to the tray locker stating something like “tray locked. Leve your belongings behind and exit the plane.”

    I hope that could save lives.

  25. Traci says:

    Plane and car seat belts don’t open the same way. Under stress, some people forget they are in a plane and try to unbuckle the belts by pressing a button (car-style) instead of pulling the buckle (plane-style). In some accidents, passengers were found with bruises on their waists, indicating they were trying to unfasten their seat belts but were under so much stress, they forgot how and were reverting to their most basic seat belt unfastening memory (car-style). I forgot where I read this, so my apologies to the author. It might have been Amanda Ripley, author of The Unthinkable.

    As an aside, I think a collaboration between P.S. and Amanda Ripley would be well-received.

  26. JoeyH says:

    The inane safety briefing includes instruction on HOW TO OPERATE A SEAT BELT. This happens, by the way, after the FAs have already checked to makes sure everyone is buckled up.

  27. Traci says:

    How about reserving the back of the plane for people who bring their luggage? If I play by the rules and check my bag, can I at least have the luxury of getting off the plane first? You pay a price for everything.

  28. MS72 says:

    my wife and i don’t travel much these days, partly because she is wheelchair-bound. The carry chairs for boarding and unboarding are painful to experience and the airline relies on airport personnel to man them. We’re first on and last off, and always waiting for the people to arrive to do the job.

    Add to that, the rare possibility that we might be caught on-board during an accident. We have no illusions about how we would evacuate. I would do my best, but i won’t leave her.

  29. David Barnes says:

    You’re looking at the on-wing portion of the overwing slides. They have a portion that goes forward to the exits and provides something of a handrail to get you to the exit, then the traditional slide begins.

    Here’s a video of a maintenance deployment that helps make some sense of what you’re seeing.

  30. Kevin Stewart says:

    My own rules for take off and landing:
    – shoes on. If I have to evacuate, don’t want to be walking through sharp metal, flames, broken glass, in my socks.
    – passport, travel documents, and phone on my person. Worst case scenario, where I lose cabin baggage, I’m OK.
    It’s not that hard.

  31. Julia says:

    Did you also see that some buffoon actually filmed the evacuation from inside the plane and posted it online. It’s amazing how little common sense some people have.

  32. Richard says:

    @Eirik: If the plane being literally on fire doesn’t make people realise there is a very real and immediate danger of death, I’m not sure what will.

  33. Speed says:

    Tom in Las Vegas wrote, “The greedy baggage policy in which they make millions, total billions, of extra revenue force lots of carry on greed to get around the fees.”

    So, its the greedy airlines AND the greedy passengers?

    Southwest Airlines promotes heavily their “Bags Fly Free” policy. Two checked bags for every passenger are carried at no charge. The overheads are still full and people are still forced to gate-check bags. It’s not the price, its the perceived convenience of not having to wait for luggage and not worry about bags being lost.

    On a recent US flight I saw that the airline phone APP updated me on the location of my bag (Your bag is on its way from the plane to the luggage area … Your bag has arrived at the carousel). The airlines are spending money and using technology to improve the speed and reliability of checked-baggage service. Maybe this will help.

  34. Eirik says:

    Its really simple; people aren’t scared enough. Hence, they grab their belongings, both in the pockets and overhead bins.

    All the accidents/incidents you are referring to (San Fran/Sully/this one), the planes were totally intact, people automatically think “we’re good” and grab their stuff. Is it right? Probably not. Did someone die because of it? No.

    Not until there is a real danger and people think they are gonna die will you see a perfect evacuation – meaning no luggage.

    Human nature.

  35. Robert Waldrop says:

    With everyone and everything being videoed in the modern world, how about the FAA review video and fine the heck out of everyone who violates the policy? The fine needs to be large enough to prove a point that carry one bags need to be left in place. Maybe even a short flying ban would be in order too. I still can’t imagine why people would want to grab “stuff” over getting the heck out of a burning plane.

  36. Tom In Las Vegas says:

    You are letting the airlines off scot free if you don’t mention their greed in this matter. The greedy baggage policy in which they make millions, total billions, of extra revenue force lots of carry on greed to get around the fees. In reality people don’t need 3/4 of the junk they carry on while in the plane. I agree with Kathy on one two and three. But you don’t need extra clothes in a plane. Put you small wallet, passport, credit cards, essential meds, for two or three days only, and one cell phone in a small pouch around you neck. And that’s it. Evacuate with it. I go back and forth across the Pacific 5-6 times a year. The amount of junk people carry on is nonsense. It had a mother and daughter from Hong Kong to SFO sit next to me with two bags in the overhead bin for 14 hours. They must have got up and rummaged in it twice an hour for 14 hours. None of that was necessary. Think about it. The overhead bins ARE more trouble overall than helpful. Put extreme limits on in cabin carry ones, and ban baggage fees as a safety hazard.

  37. Geoff says:

    Hi All,

    Along with most others on this site, I groaned inwardly when I saw the pictures of this evacuation. However, I believe in constructive criticism and so I would ask this: as passengers (in fact, customers), what is the most effective way to offer our suggestions? I would love to tell the flight crew how I think their safety presentation could be improved, but I seriously doubt that will make much of an impact. To whom should we be talking?


  38. Les Flugel says:

    I use a travel vest. So many pockets, you almost have as much stuff as you can in your briefcase.

  39. Mark J says:

    “Planes were re-engineered not to produce toxic smoke”

    Are you insane ? Planes are loaded with plastic (polystyrene, PVC, vinyl, polypropylene, polyethylene, etc), carbon composites, hydraulic fluid, rubber, coolant, etc, etc, all of which can and does burn, and baby, it burns NASTY. We’re talking some of the most deadly compounds in chemistry are in that smoke. And they’ll kill FAST. Like, one whiff of that smoke, and if, if, if, you’re lucky, you might survive that whiff with lifetime lung and brain damage. More likely, you’re dead. Most of the fatalities in fire come from smoke inhalation, not fire.

  40. Ken Berry says:

    I travel with a backpack full of diabetes medication. I lost it during my last trip to the US. Thanks to the idiocy of US healthcare policy (we are dual citizens) REPLACEMENTS cost nearly AU$2000 NOT COVERED by travel insurance. My husband’s HIV medications would cost US$16,000 and missing a dose or two or five could prove fatal. Hospital admission could cost literally tens of thousands out of pocket before reimbursement. These are not trivial considerations. We keep these small because we realize the safety implications. Time to outlaw charging for checked luggage.

  41. B says:

    I think a lot of this would be resolved if the airlines made sure everyone knows they’ll be compensated quickly for their losses. My small backpack is easily worth $5k, I am traveling for a job, not as a tourist. It sits in front of me, and I would likely throw it on an jump down the slide. Obviously you cannot put a price on human life but I have not read any recent NTSB reports where slow passenger egress increased fatalities / decreased survivability – perhaps someone else knows of some examples? Planes were re-engineered not to produce toxic smoke and typically everyone gets off, with the usual busted arms and ankles.
    I do agree that opening an overhead bin is insane – but throwing on a small backpack and jumping down the slide hardly seems like an obvious criminal act that will directly lead to the death of other passengers (as opposed to lugging your roll-about down the slide).

  42. David M. says:

    Patrick, this is America. We don’t do common sense. This won’t change until some moron jams his suitcase in the exit and 150 people standing in line behind him all die in fire.

  43. Carlos Si says:

    People need to accept that /nothing/ on those carryons is worth dying for (unless losing something on those carryons may mean faster, eventual death like a rare medication or something, but that’s /very unlikely/). I know I have a lot of things on my laptop that I’d hate losing, maybe even work/school-related files, but at least I’d be able to tell the tale rather than die or cause someone else to perish as a result of my selfish actions. Maybe keep these things backed-up somewhere in case of the very unlikely?

  44. Mark says:

    How are you going to do that? Take roll call as people evacuate?

  45. SirWired says:

    Not to mention the small over-wing exits on narrowbodies without evac slides… the larger carry-ons would barely fit through those unless you turn them the right way.

    The FAA needs (desperately) to update the safety briefing and probably update evac time tests to assign random testees as bag-fumblers.

    I could see locking overhead bins backfiring. I could totally imagine a passenger blocking the aisle while they fumble trying to open the locked bin.

    On another note, on that pic of a passenger evacuating hugging a satchel or something, the passengers in the background look to be descending inflatable stairs or something… what’s going on there? I thought everybody used slides?

  46. Chris says:

    There is a simple way to deal with this – identify any passengers leaving with carry-on’s and ban them for potentially endangering other passengers. Otherwise it will only be a matter of time before this sort of behaviour results in a death or serious injury.

  47. Speed says:

    Simon wrote, “But it’s really the airlines’ fault. Overcharge for checked bags, yet let people roll abord [sic] as much as they please for free.”

    Frontier charges for both checked and carry-on bags. Gate checked bags are charged even more. The overheads are still full.

  48. Art Knight says:

    These are my people. This is my airport. I have one thing to say to you my friends. You are dumb asses. If I am ever in this situation with you and you are opening the overheads and blocking my exit with your bags. You shall receive a swift and firm elbow to the temple as I run over your spine.

  49. TR says:

    I was thinking similarly. Many may be worried about the terrible experience that awaits them after evac while the airline staff argue about what to do and try to avoid lawsuits. Just think of the experience when a flight is canceled. How well are most pax treated? (yea, I know it varies but…)

    Personally, I’ve taken to making sure that for takeoff and landing

    a) my shoes are ON
    b) my wallet is in my pocket (I often take it out and put in my bag during flight to not be sitting on it for hours)
    c) phone is in hands (ready to go in pocket)
    d) passport is accessible (ready to go in pocket)

    I figure with these things, I can make my own way back to comfort regardless of airline help assuming I survive the evacuation.

  50. TR says:

    The other thing I found amazing is at LEAST one person was holding a cell phone and recording the whole evac as a video. While I’ll admit a voyeuristic curiosity being fulfilled by being able to watch the video (I might even make a claim for educational value), it just is NOT a good idea to distract ones self that way. I couldn’t believe the people around him didn’t scream at him to put it away.

  51. Simon says:

    No doubt these people are doing something stupid.

    But it’s really the airlines’ fault. Overcharge for checked bags, yet let people roll abord as much as they please for free. Guess what incentive that creates. Now you have most pax carrying all their stuff on board. Anybody who’s surprised these people will now evacuate holding onto all their valuables ist just naive.

    Start charging for carry-ons and make the checked bag free. Problem gone. Along with overcrowded cabins, slow boarding, and all these other little gems that make us so love modern air travel. 😉

  52. Dwimmerlaik says:

    I know this may sound petty, but I wonder if some of the reasons for people bringing all of their personal belongings are due to a lack of understanding on the obligations of airlines to replace items lost in a fire. Couple that with the litigious society in which we live and the difficulty of proving what you had in your bag and I could see why folks might feel that their things are important. In the panic of the moment when rational thought is nearly impossible, it’s conceivable that they would place more importance on material things with the thought of the cost involved in replacing them and the difficulty involved in fighting with the airline.

    I completely agree that no material item is worth risking your life or the lives of other passengers over, but I wonder if it would alleviate some of the issues if airlines were cleared about their obligations. As an experiment, I tried searching for airline’s legal obligations and found very little easily accessible information. It was different when I searched for contract of carriage, but how many infrequent travelers would know to look for that?

    Just a thought…

  53. Dan Ullman says:

    Since most people, in the second picture anyway, appear to be calmly evacuating via an inflatable stairway (not a Boeing aircraft), I think we can forgive the lady on the slide.

  54. Mitch says:

    Kathy, you need both hands free. When every second counts, taking extra seconds to retrieve your pouch from the seatback pocket could be fatal to you or to others. Even if you can grab the pouch without delay, what will you do if you drop it, or it’s knocked out of your hand under a seat or into the aisle? Try to get it and you will impede the evac or get trampled. Or someone could grab it from you. What then?

    Even without an emergency, there’s the remote but unfortunate possibility that your seatmate could pilfer the contents while you’re away from your seat in flight. After a safe arrival, Murphy’s law says anything in a seatback pocket could get left behind.

    Your idea of all the essentials together is a good one. Forget the extra clothes. Get a pouch that hangs around your neck or straps to your waist INSIDE your clothing. All the stuff you really really really need will be safely with you at all times. Don’t leave home without it.

  55. Tod Davis says:

    A couple of suggestions i would have would be to encourage passengers to keep their wallets and passports on their person during the flight so at least they can’t use that excuse and also having lockable overhead bins

  56. Roger says:

    I agree entirely about the inane wordiness of the “briefings”. These should be written to sound like the way real people speak, rather than lawyers. The authors should be paid a bonus for every word they can remove. Not too long ago we were being told to “turn our cellphones TO THE OFF POSITION” rather than just turn them OFF. My favorite has always been “IN ALL CASES the plastic bag will not inflate”.

    In the whole history of commercial aviation, has any passenger’s life ever been saved by a flotation device? Certainly none on AWE1549!

  57. Piper says:

    Perhaps everyone seen carrying baggage away from the plane should have their bags seized, thrown into a huge pile, and torched. I suspect word might get around after that.

  58. Speed says:

    “Attention. I said ATTENTION. We’re not moving this airplane one inch toward the runway until I see each and every head turned this way and every pair of eyeballs looking at me. I’ll wait.

    “In an emergency, you better want to get the hell out of this burning tin can and get out FAST. I sure will. Anyone wishing to take anything except the clothes on their back will be required to wait until the survivors get out. Then and only then will you be allowed to collect your belongings and try to beat the flames to the door.

    “Anyone carrying a bag or trying to open an overhead compartment will be shot. I have the gun and bullets and I know how to use them. I am not allowed to leave the plane until all the passengers are out or dead and I’m gonna be on the ground 90 seconds after the door opens.

  59. Kathy says:

    I understand the exasperation at passengers delaying evacuation to gather their carry on, and I understand the dangers involved.

    But I can also think of some reasons for this. Actual rational reasons:

    First, imagine being on a foreign country, or even a different city within your country, if your planes burns down, with only the clothes on your back. What may you be missing that might be on your carry-on, purse, laptop bag, or other things common as hand luggage?

    1) Passport and ID
    2) Cash and credit cards
    3) Prescription drugs
    4) Extra clothes
    5) Irreplaceable valuables

    I have a simple solution for this, though take note I’m not on any medication, so point 3 doesn’t apply to me. Inside my purse, or laptop bag, I keep a small faux leather envelope with a zipper closure, a bit bigger but much thicker than a letter-sized envelope. Inside I have my passport (when traveling internationally), ID, cash, debit and credit card(s), plus travel documents (boarding pass, immigration/customs forms, itinerary, hotel reservations, a pen, some aspirin, and cell phone.

    I keep it in the pocket in the seat back in front during take off and landing, when an evacuation is remotely possible. In the unlikely event of an evacuation, I can grab it while I stand up and run out with the essentials for survival on hand.

    I think with assurances like this, more people would be more willing to leave their carry-ons behind.

  60. andyinsdca says:

    One of the problems with the safety briefing is that they’ve turned into commercials for the airlines. So much fluff, intro music and extra wording like “we’re happy you’re flying with Eastern today, so sit back and learn the safety features of this Boeing 707 aircraft.” add in the cluelessness of the flight attendants who don’t do a damn thing about stuff in laps on takeoff (like laptops, as I emailed you before) and it’s a total cluster-f. It’s one of the main reasons I sit aisle when I fly and I know where my exits are. Fark everyone, I’m getting out.

  61. Terry McG says:

    Notice the crew in the left side of the picture – not carrying a thing, except what looks like maybe a vest in the one FA’s hand.
    Yep, needs to be emphasized. I wonder how many people were yelling to others to leave their stuff behind. If I were behind some idiot trying to wrangle a roll aboard out of the overhead, I’d push them so they’d have no choice to move.