Don’t Be Selfish And Do This In An Emergency Evacuation!

I’m sure most of us saw the absolutely insane footage of a British Airways 777-200 on fire at Las Vegas McCarran Airport earlier in the week. The plane was carrying 170 passengers, and thanks to the great work of the crew, everyone was evacuated reasonably safely.

While I’m sure we’ll soon find out more about what happened, perhaps the craziest part of the story was that it was the 63 year old captain’s second to last trip before retirement, and the first time he encountered a life threatening emergency in his 42 year flying career. And I guess this put him into retirement early, since he says he’s done flying after that incident.

The footage is dramatic, especially since you can see the slides deployed and cabin being evacuated while the plane is still on fire.

When you see what the plane looked like after it was finished burning, it’s even more apparent how crazy the incident was, and how lucky everyone is that it ended so well.

But there’s one thing about the incident that’s incredibly frustrating and selfish, and which can’t be emphasized enough. In March of this year I wrote a post entitled “In An Emergency Evacuation LEAVE ALL CARRY-ONS BEHIND.”

This is in every safety video, and along with not inflating your life vest until you’ve left the plane, is probably the most important part of the safety demonstration.

In the event of an emergency evacuation, leave all your carry-ons behind.

Yet we repeatedly see people take all their belongings with them, even in extreme emergencies. And that includes on this flight, where you see people walking across the tarmac with all their bags:

Again, this is after they got off a 777 which was literally engulfed in flames as they were evacuating.

Now I’m sure this is obvious to most, but let’s recap why it’s important to leave your carry-on items behind in the event of an emergency evacuation:

  • In an emergency — especially one as severe as this one — we have no way of knowing just how life threatening the situation is; I would assume that the passengers and crew were scared for their lives here, given that they were evacuating a plane which was actively on fire.
  • Taking your carry-ons can slow down the evacuation process. The more things people take, the longer it takes for everyone to get off the plane. When the plane could in theory blow up any minute, those seconds can be the difference between life and death.
  • Taking your carry-ons can rip the escape slide, and prevent other passengers from evacuating.

Evacuation

Why do a vast majority of people seem to still take their carry-ons, even in a severe emergency like the British Airways one?

  • Some people probably genuinely don’t know they’re supposed to leave their bags behind.
  • Some people are probably so startled that they forget they’re not supposed to.
  • Some people probably know they’re not supposed to, but don’t care.
  • There’s probably some amount of social influence, whereby you assume it’s okay when you see other people do it.

Further to the third point above, even when I raised this discussion last time, plenty of people said they’d probably take their belongings with them in an emergency evacuation.

Like this person:

Some people actually travel the world and make memories, take pictures, visit places on unique once in a lifetime vacation. It’s hard to part ways with a laptop or camera after a trip like that. I always pack a portable backup drive which I can grab in an emergency and it won’t get in anyone’s way…along with camera and small laptop.

Or this person:

Whenever I hear the safety briefing on the plane, my mind somehow goes to my laptop in the overhead bin. I’m a researcher, and losing my laptop could mean the loss of YEARS of hard work and data. Yes, it’s all backed up. But so many analysis ideas come to me on-the-fly (I crunch numbers in airport lounges, airplanes, hotels, etc. – so that I don’t forget the cool idea I just had). If I was in an emergency evacuation situation, I don’t know what I would do – I would be torn! Chances are, I would get my computer.

All of this to say – please don’t judge someone so easily…try living in someone else’s shoes for a moment.

I think reader greg99 summed it up pretty accurately in a comment he left on that post:

There is one and only one solution. It’s the same solution that the FAA, the NTSB (and all of their regulatory counterparts around the world), the airline pre-flight briefing, the safety card sitting in front of you, and the instructions SHOUTED at the passengers during an evacuation (failure to comply with which is is a federal offense).

That solution is to leave your carry-on luggage behind. Any other conduct, aside from being stupid, dangerous and selfish, is against the law. I get to ride my high horse here because I’m right – the law says I’m right, and common sense should tell you that I’m right.

If you think this is gray, how do you feel about DUI?

Lots of different cases there, too. Maybe just driving around the corner, maybe only one beer too many? If you happened to be pulled over, maybe you only blow a 0.09? I’m sure nobody has ever been hurt or killed in that situation, either.

So c’mon folks, if you ever find yourself in an emergency evacuation, leave all carry-on items behind. Anything else is beyond selfish.

Why does this have to be so complicated?

Comments

  1. You are telling people in this hobby, don’t be selfish? That must be a joke. Haha! Somehow I picture people in this hobby to be self centered if not downright selfish.

  2. Hey Lucky,

    While I agree almost 100%. What would you say about a passenger grabbing a small bag that happened to have life saving medicine such as Insulin, etc. I would think that women probably may take their purse, but what about guys?

  3. Maybe aircrafts could have a central locking mechanism for the overhead bins. Would also stop people from getting to their bags before the plane stops at a gate.

  4. Can’t say I’m surprised. And it’s not complicated. Don’t you ever watch people when they are boarding a plane these days? They aren’t selfish. They are selfish and stupid in approximately a 50/50 ratio. Sorry but it’s true. On the other hand, have you ever watched boarding of a Japanese domestic flight? I swear they are boarded and seated faster than this plane was evacuated – because they are neither selfish nor stupid fliers.

  5. @travel4b I must disagree. The Japanese are like robots. Never question their master, just put their head down and follow orders. Great for efficiency but the leaders can get away with things like brain washing them to commit atrocities in ww2 or to not question how big a screw up fukushima was. I would rather have independent minded if selfish people than bunch of drones. A Japanese girl friend, now that’s quite another matter. Mmmmm

  6. While I completely agree that all items should be left behind, save something essential like insulin as another commenter mentioned, I’m curious to know what the environment was like on the plane. So far it doesn’t seem we’ve heard from anyone that was there, aside from those taking videos.

    I only ask because the environment inside may have lent to people thinking it was proper to gather belongings, regardless of the instructions provided pre-flight. From the video we see the engine engulfed in flames, not the plane. I wonder if an orderly and relatively smooth evacuation was underway, people may’ve likened the emergency departure to a normal departure, just via a slide versus a jetway.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think these people are asshats, but a panicked scenario seems it would play out much differently than this appears to have.

  7. @TG_Dallas my uncle keeps his medications in a fanny pack in the top of his under-seat bag. He’s never had to grab it, but he knows where it is and can get it in seconds. He also keeps his smartphone, memory cards, and portable drive in it.

    The trick is getting guys to do this, *and* remember in an emergency.

  8. My associates and I typically travel with $9900 in cash per person. If we arrive at our destination without this money, it could be a life or death type of situation. So we will be grabbing these bags during an evacuation, since our lives could depend on it!

  9. While I think that this is a great idea and anyone that needs any type of medication should do the same thing. The purpose of my comment is that technically that would not be ‘leave everything behind’ as suggested in this post. I just think that there are certain situations where ‘leaving everything behind’ is not a complete option. Some may say, well, it would be easy to get a replacement Rx, in some places, that just may not be an option. Just gathering everyone’s opinion.

  10. We need to adapt to confront the reality. No matter what the situation, some people will demand to grab their belongings.
    Ok, let’s change things: New rules.
    “Ladies and gentlemen, the plane is being evacuated. Those exiting without any carry on bags please exit the plane first. Anyone wishing to bring personal items please wait in your row until you are directed to begin deplaning after the other passengers. ”
    That will make a difference.

  11. @credit,

    Sorry, but if I’m in a plane on fire I’ll take a bunch of drones over “independent minded if selfish people” as my fellow passengers any day of the week. That way we’ll all have a far better chance to stand around and debate the pros and cons of Japanese cultural norms out on the runway while the plane burns up.

  12. Hold on a second; there is some sort of miracle medication that would be in your bag that you could not possibly replace in Las Vegas? Something so incredibly valuable that it would be worth you or someone else on the plane dieing so that you could take it with you? Sorry, I don’t buy it.
    And as for the person who decided that the Japanese are robots for following rules instead of being selfish and that this led to them committing atrocities in World War II, I think maybe you are confused about what occurred in World War II. It was the Japanese civilian population that had atomic bombs dropped on them, the most grievous atrocity and act of terrorism the world has ever seen. I guess that was due to the robotic nature of the U.S. Military. Oh, and Fukushima, originally caused by seismic activity is the result of the mindset of the Japanese, as opposed to three mile island, caused entirely by human error and not following proper safety protocols.
    Lucky is right, putting your possessions, no matter what they are, ahead of the lives of the other passengers is selfish and stupid.

  13. @credit that just sounds creepy that you’d want a drone for a gf that reeks of lack of confidence, stubbornness, and fear of rejection. Independent thinking isn’t necessary for most people since their IQs aren’t up to par for it to actually be useful. That is why life is a pyramid with the dumb masses on the bottom building up to the elite few.

  14. One of the things people do at air crash sites is steal everything they can — wallets, valuables, everything. Even in an incident that’s not a crash, reuniting people with their stuff is absolutely not going to be anyone’s priority. What you think of as your bags DOT investigators think of as “evidence.”

    I’ve looked everywhere I can think of for accounts of how aircraft evacuees are united with their stuff, and I’ve found nothing. If someone has any factual insight here, it would be great if you could post it here.

    So what would I do? Take a guess.

  15. Hi Ben,

    I’ve always wanted to ask this question on your blog and it would be great if you or someone else could advise. What happens in the case where in an emergency you leave your carry on and your essential documents such as passport and money is destroyed ? Does the airline or the country where the incident takes place, provide cover and support to international passengers who require visas or other paperwork to be in that country or the next intended destination. Do they help in attaining emergency passport, visas, documents, cash, etc. ?

    Looking forward to your pro response.

  16. I have been in an emergency evacuation, and we were told to run from the plane! One never forgets running across an airfield from a crippled plane.

    With that said, I will grab my backpack if its under the seat in front of me.

    No I will not grab it if its in an overhead luggage bin, UNLESS the bin is open and I can swipe it as I run past.

    No I would not grab a roll on bag no matter how accessible it is.

    If I am slowing down the process, then its a problem to ME…because I do care about others, and especially safety.

    I have warned friends in the past to never ever wear sandals, flip flops or high heels on flights, if you have to run through fire, you will not look sexy with burned to the bone feet. (see CO DC10 that burned on the runway at LAX about 30 + years ago).

    For those who sit in an emergency exit row, it is a JOB, not the luxury of extra leg room. I am prepared when in an exit row in coach to open that door and help evacuate if need be. I have my shoes on during take off and landing, and headphones off. I am ready if need be.

    With that said, Im sure some will think I am selfish for grabbing my backpack, and thats ok…

  17. If something is so important that you would absolutely need it in an emergency evacuation (like a cellphone, camera, wallet or maybe small tablet), you should keep it in your pockets during takeoff and landing or at the very least in the seat back pocket.

  18. You don’t know what’s in peoples’ bags and why they’re grabbing them, especially under such dire circumstances. The likes of ‘greg99’ are also the same ones who like to impose their own social and religious views on others (like that Kentucky clerk who wouldn’t issue marriage licenses for gay couples).

    True, if you’re grabbing your bag that contains an old pair of Levis and fresh underwear, you’re not only selfish, but also a moron. But what if you had adoption papers, life-saving prescription drugs, etc. etc. I would ease off on the judgement.

  19. I’ve never been involved in an emergency evacuation, and I pray I never am. But, if I ever am, and someone in front of me stops to get their carry-ons, I WILL run them over. Period. I don’t give a damn what they have in their bags. I don’t want to die.

  20. Everyone who grabbed something is committing and offence. The simple solution is to prosecute them, fine them, confiscate what they took from the plane and then put them on the no fly list.

    The point is that, by taking a bag, they could easily kill someone. The chances are low, but the consequences are huge and it’s exactly for that sort of situation that we have strict laws – where social pressure is not good enough. The drink driving analogy is a good one.

  21. Anyone in front of me, delaying my exit and the exit of others is getting stomped. Literally. If you risk my life for your Gucci slippers I will destroy you. And I’ll probably get a medal.

  22. When I first saw this on the TV when people had there bags I also thought they were so selfish. I may understand grabbing something small from your seat, but actually standing up and stopping the flow of people trying to evacuate is incredibly inconsiderate. It puts lives in danger. I strongly believe that the overhead compartments should be automatically locked, because really what is more important; your work and a personal items or the life of some poor other people. But realistically the world is full of a**holes and self centred idiots haha.

  23. I agree with Jordan. I would NEVER take a wheeled bag down an evacuation chute – or try to leave the plane with it in case of an emergency. The goal is to GET OUT – not to stroll out rolling a bag. I’m female, and I would take my purse/totebag if I could easily grab it. It’s small, attaches to my body easily, won’t harm any exit gear and is under the seat in front of me. Anything I “must” keep is in that bag. I wear traction-soled shoes on every flight, and I pay attention to the evacuation instructions, even though I can repeat them along with the flight attendant. I usually keep my ID papers and cell phone physically on my person, along with some money, in case I just have to run. Bottom line – our lives come first over any bag.

  24. I agree with Scibuff comments. Does anybody watch how Asiana Airlines in SFO crashed? You saw people who survived that crash with their belongings while in the runway, People now a days grew up all smart and geniuses but lacking and ignorance in “COMMON SENSE” Hello people google it so you know what it means and maybe it will save your life someday. I said place an electronic master lock in all bins controlled by the purser of the plane that can only be re-open again by the F.A. discretion during flight, and re-lock prior to landing to be re-open again when the plane stop and park. With a by-pass key to open manually if auto lock did not work.

  25. if you didn’t take them with you it will be days or weeks before you can get them back, it will be like a crime scene and everything will stay there until they finish the investigation

  26. What if you have already put on your first class pajamas? Is it permissible to grab your carry on so you have a change of clothes outside of the plane? (That one is for you lucky)

  27. I along with many others have walked off overnight flights in airline issued PJ’s.. WHO CARES what other people think. Why change into regular clothes, only to change again in the lounge after a shower.

  28. My purse would be going off the plane with me. I normally have a weeks worth of meds in purse. As far as anything else it can be replaced. I’d see an emergency shopping trip in my future. My purse when I travel is a cross body bag. So both hands will be free. But my money and credit cards I’m going to need.

  29. If the plane crashes, I would take my carry ons – especially if the plane went down in a remote place. I wouldn’t want my snacks and clothes to burn in the plane!

  30. I knew I had to visit the comments, because I was curious how long it took for someone to take a shot at me. Less than 2 hours, not bad.

    @Arun – Putting aside the ad hominem nature of your comment re: people imposing their own social and religious views, and the fact that you’re factually incorrect in the basis of your ad hominem attack, it’s just a stupid argument. Everything you listed can be replaced. Painfully, maybe, but it can be replaced. Personally, I do regularly travel with *extremely* expensive, life-saving prescription drugs. They are so valuable, they are packed in a special secure bag. That bag still gets left behind, because it can be replaced if I have to.

    I’m still correct, however – I don’t have to come up with some faith-based crazy constitutional interpretation of the regulations that YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR CARRY ON BAGS BEHIND. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bag.

    I return to my DUI analogy. Your mom’s sick and needs you to bring her a prescription, and it’s just around the corner, so it must be OK that you polished off a six-pack of Schlitz a couple of hours ago, right? I don’t think so. If that makes me judgmental, then I guess I am, again, though, I’m right. 0.08 is 0.08.

    But putting that aside, if everyone on all of these videos were just carrying a small backpack or a fanny pack, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. That’s not what’s happening, though. People are schlepping multiple rolling bags and duffles that almost certainly don’t even fit in the sizer. That’s the problem. Since too many people aren’t able to make a reasonable judgment call about how to manage carry-on baggage in emergencies, there needs to be a bright line rule, and that’s ZERO.

    Oh, and @sergey, while it’s way off topic from this post, $9900? You might consider googling the terms “smurfing” and “financial reporting” and “Customs and Border Protection”. Just a friendly $0.02 of advice…

    Greg99

  31. I take daily medicines that I cannot live without (and that are also difficult to fill at a moment’s notice). I literally can’t leave them behind.

    At the same time I always put them in an easily accessible part of the bag I put under the seat in front of me so I can either easily grab that bag in an emergency situation or take my medicine out of the bag if the circumstances would make it dangerous to actually take my bag with me.

  32. I really just don’t get people who think their belongings are valuable so somehow they should be exempted and take it with them at the risk of other people’s lives.

    At least half the plane is carrying laptops or papers or whatnot with similarly valuable personal and work-related things on them. If everyone did the same selfish thing and insisted on taking their bag, a whole lot of people’s lives would be in increased danger. You and your things aren’t any more special than anyone else’s. So what if it’s almost certainly going to be a pain to get your things back or make do without it? It’s the same for everyone else so get over yourself.

  33. Perhaps we should go back to only allowing hand luggage, as it used to be termed rather than the suitcases everyone seems these days to take on board. If it was restricted to a small pack containing any necessary medications required during the flight together with you iPad, cell phone and travel documents, oh and a book for those of us who still prefer the real thing, this would be easy to grab from under the seat and sling over the shoulder so that the evacuation chute would not be damaged on leaving the plane. As for the person who wants to change out of his first class pyjamas, be my guest, just don’t expect to be off loaded first!!

  34. Passangers involved in aircraft emergencies are going to have trouble ajusting to the magnitude of the situation. That’s the reason why we’re given instructions from trained personnel who are in-charge of our safety. Leave carry-ons behind means just that.
    I travel with a neck pouch that has my passport, driver’s license, cash
    and some credit cards. I keep my shoes on and jacket under the seat in front of me. The jacket has pockets. Fortunately, I don’t need medications.
    Get me quickly off the plane and I’m read for a do-over!

  35. Want to take your carry-on? Fine. Meet you at the tarmac with FAA and airport police. $5,000 fine per evacuated bag, and you go on the no-fly list for life.

    And make them climb back to the burning plane to put their carry-ons back on the bins, since you weren’t supposed to take them to begin with.

  36. @Lucky – I’m wondering if seeing this has changed your habit of putting on your PJs before take-off? I *never* do that, just in case. Nor do I take off my shoes. I also keep my passport in my pocket on international trips until after take-off. Just in case. And yes, I’ve had to evacuate from a plane; fortunately it was a false alarm, but it was scary none-the-less.

  37. @Credit – Geez, angry much?
    @ Sergey – If I was carrying that much money it would be on me, not in a bag someone else could steal when I’m in the loo or asleep … Just sayin’.

  38. Unfortunately, nobody is rational in an emergency. The safest and quickest way to get people out is to do so without delay. Another way to look at this is ladies high heel shoes – passengers are advised to remove them to prevent tearing the evacuation slide. People focus on the baggage, but did all passengers wearing high heeled shoes take them off too? If not, they too *risked* making the situation worse.

    I suppose the assumption is that people took time and delayed others in getting their baggage. But if it’s under the seat in front of you, most could grab it in split seconds without tangible delay to others – presumably the size wouldn’t cause issues too if it’s big enough to go under the seat in front of you. ]

    I’d like to think I’d leave it but I can’t realistically predict how I’d react in this situation.

    Interesting quote on Skift on the legalities. It’s only recommended to leave it, unless instructed during evacuation:

    “Guidance posted online by the Federal Aviation Administration advises passengers to leave bags on board during an evacuation — but does not mandate it. Airline crews may make that announcement during preflight safety demonstrations, and during an emergency, would typically tell people to leave bags behind. Passengers are required by law to follow all crew instructions, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.”
    http://skift.com/2015/09/10/passengers-in-british-airways-las-vegas-fire-were-their-own-worst-enemies/

  39. At the gate/lounge put your passport, money, medicine in a small ziplockbag.

    At your seat put your bags where they need to be and keep the ziplockbag on your lap or in your pocket.

    In the case of evacuation and even more when safely on the ground in a foreign country, you’ll need 1) passport to identify yourself 2)money to plan and arrange 3)meds to survive —

    Surprisingly nobody on this blog has come up a common-sense piece of advice instead of justshouting opinions

  40. People grab their carryons because you can’t trust a US3 airline to make any effort to recover your bag or deliver it to you without stealing stuff from it. If they would start reliably delivering checked bags safely, on time, and unopened it would go a long way to making evacuations safer because people would be able to start trusting them again.

    @Sergey “My associates and I typically travel with $9900 in cash”

    That’s a felony. In the USA, it’s illegal to travel with US$10,000 in cash without declaring it. On declaration, the authorities often seize the money until you can prove where it came from and that you don’t intent to do anything that might disappoint the authorities with it. It’s also illegal to carry less than US$10,000 in order to avoid the requirement to declare the money.

  41. Prosecute and fine all who took their luggage (I do not know about a laptop that was already in someone’s hands, but I would have left it). Had someone died by not being evacuated in time those that took luggage could have been charged and convicted of murder. We nee some of the more selfish people to be prosecuted to avoid more selfish conduct in the future.
    Failure to obey care instructions is a violation of Federal law. Puttin someone on the no fly list seems extreme to me, but a hefty fine and perhaps a weekend in jail to think about it seems appropriate. When lives are at stake you do not hesitate. Period. Everything is replaceable except a human life

  42. Get a ScottEvest shirt or jacket or similar & stuff your pockets full. I’ll leave my carry-on behind but I may grab Sergey’s bag….

  43. All those people who evacuated with their roller bags are going to have their stuff with them and be very comfortable. There will be no recourse or punishment against people who brought their bags.

    The people who followed FA instructions are out on the tarmac without rain jackets, cash, identification, documents, car keys, house keys, laptops, cell phones, ongoing tickets, and medications. They won’t see their bags again for days or weeks at best and even then the bags will have been pawed through and relieved of valuables by DOT investigators, airline employees, airport contractors, delivery services, and others. There will be no compensation or recourse for people deprived of valuable items or who had to pay for expensive hotel stays and taxi rides and ticket changes because of lost documents and keys.

    Which group do you want to belong to? The ones that are going to suffer with no compensation or the ones that are sitting pretty with no costs?

    Think about it for a minute and you’ll know why people bring their bags.

  44. @Owen said:

    “Which group do you want to belong to? The ones that are going to suffer with no compensation or the ones that are sitting pretty with no costs?

    Think about it for a minute and you’ll know why people bring their bags.”

    @greg99 says: “I’ll take indicia of the progressive downfall of civilization for $600, please, Alex…”

  45. @Owen, thank you for being the example of selfish that we have all been talking about. Believe it or not, many people would prefer to be in the group that did not endanger everyone’s life rather than the group that will be comfortable at the risk of causing someone to die. And just so you know, if you make it off the plane with all your comfort items and a member of my family ends up injured or dead because of it, I would make sure that you would never be comfortable again.

  46. Not to mention if someone is trapped and dies during an evacuation because of this nonsense someone might decide to blame the carry-on divas along with the airline in the lawsuit.

  47. I started thinking the minute I saw this post. In my case, the must-have is my phone (which I basically always have in my lap/on the seat/on any storage surface from taxi to landing, just because). My purse is always under the seat in front of me, so I guess I could grab it. My priority would obviously be to make sure I had some way to contact the outside world.

  48. All these people theorizing about “life-saving drugs” are just rationalizing. If there’s a major incident, there will be doctors around to get you new drugs. Really. There’s doctors and pharmacies everywhere. You can get copies of adoption papers. And phones? Really? It wasn’t that long ago that cell phones were nonexistent. If something bad happens, you will be able to call your loved ones. There are phones in airports. They’ll let you use one.

    The straps on the purse/laptop bag/whatever can get caught on an armrest in the aisle and slow you and and the people behind you up. And seconds can mean life or death in a fire.

    That kind of entitled, can’t-live-without-it attitude can cost lives in a true emergency. Sheesh. Just leave it.

  49. @A, @Farnorthtrader, & @lucky

    Some people have medical conditions that can’t wait for a doctor or pharmacy or emergency responders in a large victim event like a plane evacuation.

    For example, people with Addison’s Disease and/or Adrenal Insufficiency have a high probability of going into an Adrenal Crisis (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrenal_crisis ) from the stress of being in an airplane crash and/or emergency evacuation and would need an emergency injection of Solu-Cortef within minutes of the incident or else they would likely die.

    Someone in that situation SHOULD be allowed to bring what they need to avoid death.

  50. I will literally push you into the fire that is eating up our plane if you so much as delay me from evacuating because you had to take your carry on from the overhead compartment. Not because my life is worth more than yours, but because your life is not worth as much as the lifes of the 50 people behind me.

  51. Thank you for giving this issue attention on your blog. After your last post on this subject I thought about this issue and went out and bought a pouch that I can keep on myself throughout the plane trip. It has space for my passport, credit cards, phone, and some cash. It could fit some medications if necessary. It fits into my handbag and I’ve been packing it either in the lounge or while sitting on the plane preparing to depart. This is what I will take with me if the plane is evacuated. In the past I had thought I would take the bag from under the seat in front of me but I realized that might still be a problem on the inflatable slide, and in some seats that bag has to go into the overhead for takeoff and landing. I realize individual situations may vary, but most frequent travelers could think through the possible scenarios and find a solution that would minimize personal belongings taken during an evacuation.

  52. I think there should be some kind of federal law about leaving things behind, because really, those people are potentially endangering the lives of others. There’s usually going to be video. It would be easy to see who the bad guys are.

  53. As someone who does often travel with important work data and documents, I back everything up before I fly. Honestly, it doesn’t take an engine bursting into flames to screw things up. Just the person next to me, a full glass of orange juice and some unexpected turbulence to ruin a good computer.

    No matter how annoying it would be to lose medicine, my work on a laptop, or priceless stuff that for some reason I bring with me on vacation, still seems like it’d be more annoying TO BE DEAD.

  54. I’ve never been in an emergency situation, so I don’t know what I would do. But I confess I’d be tempted to bring at least my laptop.

    One question I have, though, is: supposing my carry-on was not burned/destroyed/etc, how long would it take to get it back? It would be far easier to leave everything behind if I knew that in a couple of hours, or even a few days, I’d have it back, but if it would take months until investigations about the cause of the accident are finished or something like that, the temptation to bring them with be would certainly increase.

  55. Two points
    1 – excellent question from Eduardo
    2 – people feel that grabbing belonging is about 3-5 seconds. True. But having 200-300 people on a B777 all spending 5 more seconds each –> that is 1000-1500 more seconds (20-25 minutes!!!!) for the last people to sit in flames.

  56. I would be really curious too to know how people are then reunited with their belongings after an event like that.

    If I was in an event like that, I would probably only grab my memory card from my camera (if it was below the seat in front of me) and put it in my pockets. And I would keep my phone in my pockets also. The rest is just material that can easily be replaced.

  57. @arun Would you passively watch someone drown to save personal possessions?

    Ten people taking two extra seconds to grab a bag, or one person whose bag strap gets momentarily stuck on an arm rest, could be the difference between 10 people being left in the plane or15 when it explodes.

    Unless you’re the very last person in the plane, you have an ethical responsibility to do everything in your power to exit as quickly as possible. A second might not matter. But it might. It’s not your choice to make to gamble someone else’s life on your best guess about what probably will happen in a life threatening emergency. If you are in a window and want to wait until the plane clears, fine. But if you’re in line in front of anyone, it’s ethically reprehensible.

    If your possessions truly are the difference between someone’s life or death, maybe it’s different. This will be the case virtually never and it’s just a rationalization to justify shitty behavior. But for those carrying a vital organ on ice prepped for a life saving transport, sure grab it first. For everyone else, get off the plane. For those who think it takes zero extra time, it doesn’t. It takes zero plus some amount of time and adds more clutter in the small space to escape. However brief, it’s simply not your call to decide to take away any amount of time that another human may require to avoid death.

  58. sergey,

    the feds are reading this blog too. cancel the flight asap and make other arrangements for delivery. the same deadline applies.

  59. Owen says:
    @Sergey “My associates and I typically travel with $9900 in cash”
    That’s a felony.
    In the USA, it’s illegal to travel with US$10,000 in cash without declaring it.

    Typical America-centric attitude. It’s only a felony IN THE US. While many of your inner cities are arguably approaching Third World conditions, I’m guessing the sketchy places Sergey’s going with this money aren’t in the US. Even so, how can it be a felony to carry less than $10,000? Using that rationale, couldn’t the government seize any amount of money from anyone at any time?

  60. @alliance, your own link said that in the event an adrenal crisis occurs, you need to have an injection of hydrocortisone within 2 hours. Pretty sure that the ambulances that are racing to the scene of an airplane fire in Las Vegas would be able to get to you within 2 hours (if, of course, you aren’t in the place dead because somebody else had to take their carry on with them!). Try to find me a medication to treat a condition that would be needed within 10 minutes or less of you exiting the airplane and then we will look at you stopping to collect it while my children are trying to get past you out of the plane.

  61. @farnorthtrader

    That link was to a wikipedia article that provides a basic explanation of what an Adrenal Crisis is. Anyone with adrenal insufficiency knows that they probably have minutes not hours to safely get an injection after a high-stress situation. It needs to happen ASAP.

    There is no way you can guarantee that someone will be able to get proper medical treatment for rare medical problems that are life threatening after a stressful event in a short amount of time. Those people need to take care of themselves because most likely no one else is going to be able to.

    From UCLA Health System’s Endocrine Surgery group:

    “In adrenal crisis, an intravenous or intramuscular injection of hydrocortisone (an injectable corticosteroid) must be given immediately. Supportive treatment of low blood pressure with intravenous fluids is usually necessary.

    People who have Addison’s disease should be taught to recognize signs of potential stress that may cause an acute adrenal crisis. Most people with Addison’s disease are taught to give themselves an emergency injection of hydrocortisone or increase their dose of oral prednisone in times of stress.”

    http://endocrinesurgery.ucla.edu/patient_education_adm_acute_adrenal_crisis.html

  62. @Alliance:

    So you are not willing to gamble your life for 10 minutes or so (which might not be the case) but you are willing to gamble other people’s lifes for 10 seconds. Awesome man.

  63. I know I have only recently considered taking my carry on pack that is under the seat at my feet. Here is why:
    I usually sit in the emergency row, so I would feel pretty bad if someone tripped over it.
    I always have a considerable amount of first aid equipment with me.
    If my electronics are in the seat pocket, I don’t care. I’ll go after the airline and my insurance for those.
    But I always think about the fact if I get to the bottom of the ramp, I can help people as they get there, quickly triage them as they clear and determine if my first aid kit is needed now or not.
    I’ll take the fine if I can take a chance to help those in need.

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