September 22, 2008

Amen...! Cabin safety IS important!

There was quite a heated discussion on a well-known airline internet forum regarding the pre-flight safety demonstration and whether it was necessary for passengers to pay attention. One poster was saying that because he had 'seen it all before' and travelled 'all of the time' that he didn't need to watch it any more.

Then along came this priceless post, to which all I can say is, "Amen!!!!". There is a reason we ask you to watch, and when we say that aircraft may differ slightly, we MEAN it!!! Even the same type of plane in my airline can be completely different from each other with regards to layout.

Read it for yourself, it's priceless!!! =)

Taken from

Poster One quoted by later poster:
How do you know? Give me a link to that stats, please. I still believe it is mainly a matter of luck. Sorry. I do understand the importance of the briefing and all the safety procedures but you clearly exaggerate it here.

Poster 2:

Passengers such as yourself are a big part of the reason that crew might have some contept for the passenger; willful ignorance. Whether you believe it's "luck" or not, the briefing is being given by those who know and believe otherwise, and who are required by law to provide that briefing. Once you buy a ticket on that flight, you agree to the premise that you will follow and obey the directions of the crew who hold authority on that flight. You're subject to the direction of the crew, whether you like it or not. That direction starts with a simple briefing which is not entertainment, is not for your pleasure, but to save your life and the lives of those around you.

Let's say that as the cabin floods you panic and forget that you shouldn't inflate your vest until outside the cabin. I've seen it happen, even in training in dunk tanks and in the water...people in a hurry to fall back on basic instinct...they inflate the vest. Now you're bulky, now you have a hard time making it to the exit, and if the cabin is really flooding, you're held back by the boyant vest...and you're blocking everyone else. Not only will you likely drown, but also the people you're blocking...your ignorance and disbelief has just killed someone. Possibly a lot of someone's.

You flew on a Boeing last. Now you're on an airbus. You like the overwing exit aisle; it's got foot room. A rejected takeoff, there's a fire. Time to go. You didn't review the briefing; you know it by heart. But it's not in the forefront of your mind...the real reason it's given every time...and now you're trying to open the door the wrong way. Does this one flip up and out? Is it a door I set in the seat, or twist and throw out? I know it by heart...but how does this one work?

You're seated at the back of the airplane, in a DC-9. Just after takeoff you feel a roll and a drop and a bang, and next thing everyone is screaming and clambering as the aircraft shakes, smoke enters the cabin, masks and luggage drop, the fuselage starts to roll, and a bright orange glow is seen off one side of the airplane. As the aircraft comes to a rest, you've seen it all, heard it all, know it it's all on you, the expert traveler who won't listen unless it's a pretty girl, to get the exit open. Do you know how to do that? Do you know how to jettison the tailcone? It's different on this airplane...but you know that because you're an expert traveler that doesn't need to listen, right? Or will an airplane full or terrified passengers die behind you as you try to figure outs, the exit in the dark, in the smoke, and on fire?

The aircraft floats, but as you go out the exit and into the cold water, looking for a raft that another passenger who didn't bother to listen was unable to find that you successfully brought your seat cushion with you as a flotation device. Good for you. Except everyone else is wearing a life vest, and you're not. You didn't listen...this airplane was equipped with life vests and you're the only one who's going to be floating holding on to a water logged seat cushion for the next six hours. Way to go.

You've heard it before, you know that when the captain turns on the fasten seatbelts sign, you should put it on...but let's get real. You've had hundreds, if not thousands of hours in flight without any problem. How bad could it be, right? They wouldn't have served coffee and soda if it was going to be bad, right? Never mind that turbulence can slam you against the ceiling and break your back or neck, or throw you right out of your don't need to listen to the briefing or the cabin're smarter and more experienced than the crew, the manufacturer, the airline, the experts who wrote the briefing cards and the briefings...all of them. After all, you're a passenger.

Sure, in the briefing they tell you no smoking in the lavatory...but it's one cigarette, and you know that the airflow goes out the what's wrong with that? Right? Other than fatalities that have resulted from not listening. Other than your impending arrest. Other than a crew getting an alarm and diverting to another airport. But you don't worry about it. You've heard the briefings, and it's all just a show, anyway. Right?

You can use your cell phone. The crew wouldn't know the difference. You're just texting your buddy to tell him you'll be always...because the stupid airline can't seem to get you there on time. They wasted time with the briefing...which you know by heart...instead of getting the show on the road and getting you here. It's their fault, so you're justified in using your phone, right? Never mind that we can hear it in the cockpit over our headphones (you didn't know that, did you?), that it can interfere with navigational equipment and electronics (didn't know that either, did you?), and that there's a reason you're told in the briefing to turn it off.

We've come to a rest, but the cabin is full of smoke. They're calling for an evacuation, or something like that...don't really know because you don't listen to the cabin's all just a show anyway...but there's so much smoke, eyes are burning, choking, must breathe. Can't see the exits now, which way is the front of the airpalne? Everybody is pushing and shoving, can't see the seats. Too much smoke. Everybody's fighting to go some direction, and some are crawling over the seatbacks. Every man for himself. They didn't listen to the briefing either. How to find an exit? Never mind that this aircraft has lighted floor signals directing you to an exit...that was in the brieifing...but that's all just for show.

The aircraft has come to a complete stop. Don't know what was wrong, but everyone's moving for the exites. We've been told to evacuate the airplane...gotta get that brief case. It's got important papers in it. Everyone else can wait two ticks...this is important. You're not going to let it burn up in the airplane. Yes, the briefing told you to leave all your belongings behind and proceed to the nearest exit, but not you. You don't need someone who's just there to look pretty and put on a show telling you how to do business; you're an expert, and a veteran traveller. You're going to take your bag with you. Possibly cut open the slide on the way down, possibly get stuck in the door way. Possibly have to discard it when the flight attendant takes it from you by the exit to expedite your egress (to save your life, you see)...but it's all about you. You're taking back the authority granted to the crew and keeping it for yourself. You know more than anyone else. You didn't listen to the briefing, don't want to hear it. You're taking your things and that's it. Too bad someone will die because the slide was punctured, or you were too slow in the door with your things, or others saw you grabbing your things and followed your poor example and did the same...but at least you'll have your bags and briefcase.

Sure, the briefing always tells you to put your tray tables and seatbacks in an upright position. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heard it all before, yesterdays' news. Don't need to hear it again. Come on, for crying out loud. It's just a few inches of seat travel, it's not going to be the end of the world if you forget, right? Never mind that your seat was designed for impact with the seatback upright and locked, or that the tray table could do irreparable damage to you, or that your seat being back might prevent an egress by the people behind you, or that there may be any number of other reasons for don't believe it, you think it's all for show, and you know more, right?

Wrong. You committed to listening to the briefing when you bought your ticket, and you committed to honoring and following that briefing as part of your contract with the airline as a passenger; it comes with the ticket. Your failure to listen carefully and obey places everyone at risk.

Now, as a veteran traveller you don't need to listen. We get it. You know more than anyone else. And you demand statistics to prove there's some reason you should listen. I'm not going to give you statistics. I will tell you that I'm a traveller too, as well as a reasonably experienced pilot and crewmember. I've had the additional benefit of emergency training, on aircraft and other this isn't my only career path. I was a firefighter for years, dealing with emergencies ranging from car fires to structure fires to extricating people who were trapped. I've been in the real thing many times, burning cars, burning aircraft, burning houses. I was a medic, and have been in the real situation on plenty of occasions where lives really do depend on doing what one is told. As a pilot I've been in an air crash, and I can tell you it's NOT academic, and certainly NOT a show. I've been in dunk tanks, been through company training in the water, putting out fires...all the hands-on training. I've been an instructor. I've been instructed. I hold multiple pilot, crew, and mechanic certificates, and have been around airplanes since I was a kid, mostly employed to fly them and work on them and protect them.

Know what? Every time I get on the airplane as a passenger...any airplane from a Cessna to a Boeing to an Airbus...I listen to the briefing, very carefully. I give my full attention, every bit of it. I remove the safety briefing card and read it. I reach for and feel for the life vest. Make sure my seat is upright, my cell off, and I count the seatbacks to every exit in the airplane so I can find them without looking. I note the distances as well as the obstacles, and make a note of how to do it if the aircraft is upside down and I'm on the ceiling. I make sure my seat belt isn't twisted, note the oxygen cover panels on the ceiling, ensure everything is secured and under the seat in front...and I pay attention. Even if it's multiple legs in one day. Perhaps you're such a veteran that you don't need to do these things...perhaps you know more than I do, more than the crew does, more than the flight attendant who is paid to be there to save your life, more than the airline, more than airbus or boeing or the company that wrote your safety briefing card, more than the designers of the airplane and the emergency equipment that's in it...but I really don't think so.

When I was eighteen and crop dusting, I flew behind a man who had been operating the same three airplanes for the last fifteen years. The airplanes were seemingly identical, save for the color of their paint. We had a yellow one, an orange one, and a blue one. Lain flew the blue one, except for today. He would be in the yellow airplane. As we held short of the runway doing our runup, Lain took extra time, and I grew impatient. I asked about the holdup. Finally when he was ready, we went flying. He took off, I took off, and we went to the fields.

Lain flew a little wider turns, not quite as aggressive, and I followed his lead. When we got back, I asked him what took so long. He told me that even though the airplane was seemingly identical, and even though he'd been flying the same airplanes for fifteen years and many thousands of hours, he recognized that he was intimately familiar with the blue airplane...and now was in a different airframe. It might stall a little differently, fly a little differently; bottom line, even though he was certainly an expert, he took nothing for granted, and took a little more time to familiarize himself, brief himself if you will, on the "new" airplane...the one he'd already flown for thousands of hours and many years. Perhaps it's just experience that teaches some of us that we don't know it all, that care and caution are prudent, and that a briefing really is worth something.

Here, we talk about arrogant pilots, but what I'm reading about are arrogant who knows it all, has seen it all, and doesn't need the "show" or the repetition. I can tell you I haven't seen it all yet, but I can guarantee I've seen a whole lot more than you. I find it very important to sit and listen to the briefing each and every time. What's your excuse, again?


  1. oh my. He had the balls to write such a post. Some ignorant prat was sat at R3 today on my way to MAA. He unbuckled straight after touchdown... I kindly asked to buckle up until we had reached the gate but he thought otherwise and waved like he didn't give a hoot. I explained him clearly why I wanted him to buckle up : a brutal brake could send him straight at me, thus getting me injured, and subsequently incapacitated... Did not want to hear a thing. Five kind warning later (by that time we only had just left the active runway) he still didn't want to fasten his seatbelt. I lost it completely. The guy next to him tried to convince him but he didn't get it. At this point I really wanted to CA to give it a nice break so he'd learn a lesson. Ignorant twats irritate me !!!! arrrrrgh

  2. I honestly could not have thought of a better response. Bravo!

  3. Airboy, it's frustrating! The other day we had to describe a guy on the PA, along the lines of "Yes, you, you in the blue shirt, standing up, we're talking to you!! Sit down!!" :P

    Now, I just say, "I'm not worried about you, I'm worried about everyone sitting around you!" The dirty looks from the other pax soon make them sit down... *wink*

    Melissa, this should be in every in-flight mag I reckon!!


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