The disturbing image from the American Airlines Evac

Thanks to the proliferation of cameras, airline emergencies are increasingly being filmed by escaping passengers.

Last week, an American Airlines Boeing 767 bound for Miami caught fire on the runway of Chicago’s O’Hare airport while taking off. The pilot aborted the take-off and evacuated everyone on board via emergency chutes as black smoke poured from the aeroplane. Twenty people suffered minor injuries. There is video of the situation inside the cabin:

The thing that astounds me is how many passengers are carrying bags off the plane. You can see women with handbags, men with laptops. There is even one passenger with a backpack.

It is a pattern we have seen a few times now. Have a look at this video from the Emirates 777 that crash landed in Dubai in August this year.

In this video, you can see that passengers are actively opening bins and grabbing their bags. This action slows exit. The bags slow people down the aisles and are dangerous on the slides.
Airlines are expected to be able to evacuate a plane in 90 seconds. Every second used to fetch a bag could doom people.

In September 2015, a London-bound British Airways 777 caught fire on the runway at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, while preparing for take-off to London. You can see people wheeling and carrying bags behind them.

How do we persuade people that saving their bags is less important than
saving their life or the life of those around them?

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  1. Give people their stuff after an emergency is resolved without delay. That’d probably do the trick.

  2. I remember reading all the horrible comments about how stupid and backwards the passengers on the Emirates flight were for grabbing their bags prior to exiting the plane, now we see that stupidity knows no race, color, or creed, as Forrest Gump said “Stupid is as Stupid does”. It is a overall sad commentary on our digital culture that the threat of an exploding airplane is not a big enough threat to not warrant a selfie.

  3. I’d propose to Boeing and Airbus to redesign the bin which automatically locked during take off, landing and emergency evacuation like this.
    Once the plane is parked at the gate, those bins can be unlocked just like the captain turn off the seat belt sign.
    I see too many times passengers get up and get their belongings while the plane still taxing to the gate. On one flight I took in Southeast Asia, the plane literally still on the runway and they all got up and tried to gather their bags. The flight attendants? Did nothing to stop them

  4. I hate to say it but if I was in line waiting to get off a plane, I would grab my purse or backpack which held my identification and credit card. I always keep those under the seat so I wouldn’t have to open a bin.

  5. It’s not really a matter of persuasion. Not making excuses, but when the human mind is put in a stressful situation without much authoritative direction (note that all the sounds we hear in the video is other passengers yelling), your body does what it did last on a similar situation. So, when boarding a plane, you bring your bag and place it in the overhead bin. When deplaning, you take your bag with you. It’s the mind’s defense mechanism–it tells the body to do “familiar tasks” in order to remain calm. It’s a sort of muscle memory… To help alleviate the problem, flight attendants are trained to yell clear brief instructions over and over, such as “open your seat belt, get out, leave everything.” It’s designed to “snap passengers out of their daze,” and was emphasized after some aviation incidents in the 70s.

  6. They should add it to the security video/explanation. And do a good, mildly graphic “Your bag is not worth a life” video.

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