In May of 2019, 41 people were killed in Moscow when Aeroflot flight 1492 was forced to make an emergency landing. The plane landed, caught fire and passengers were directed to evacuate.
It is believed that more people could have safely exited the plane and survived if it weren’t for the avoidable actions of some passengers. Video footage of the event showed passengers blocking aisle as they struggled to collect carry-on luggage from overhead bins.
In a statement, the Association of Flight Attendants has said, “We will never know if more lives could have been saved if the bags were left behind.”
Plane seats are getting smaller and smaller and the number of passengers on flights is increasing. Still, passengers are expected to exit a plane in 90 seconds in the case of an emergency.
While the idea of losing your passport, laptop and personal effects isn’t attractive to anyone, there is no time to stop and grab them. Your belongings aren’t worth your life or that of another passenger.
Plane crashes are unlikely, but preparing yourself for a worst-case scenario could save you or a fellow passenger. The easiest way to do this is to listen to the flight attendants’ safety run-through at the start of each flight. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard it before, but if Aeroflot flight 1492 has taught us anything, it’s that common knowledge can slip your mind when you’re under pressure.
It’s important to note your nearest exits, listen to the instructions from the crew in the case of an emergency, and abandon your belongings in the case of an evacuation. Take note of the people sitting around you. Is there a child or injured person nearby who may need an extra hand if things were to take a turn for the worst? Or is there someone around who you might be able to ask for assistance should you need it yourself?
Don’t panic. In the case of an emergency, passengers panicking and pushing past one another to get to the exit may slow the flow of traffic and place more people in danger. In the case of a runway evacuation, which is more likely than a water evacuation, passengers may hurt themselves when exiting the plane. Rushing is likely to increase the risk of injuries.
Finally, don’t disobey the flight attendants. As tempting as it may be to try and commando-crawl across the tops of headrests to the exits, the escape routes for emergencies have been designed by the experts and give every passenger the best chance of a safe and swift exit.
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