Safety On An Airline Flight
The emergency row is one of those little luxuries that make such a huge difference to business travelers flying in coach. However, the airlines make you answer a bunch of questions and meet requirements that seem somewhat annoying. Ignore your tendency to ignore and think about what is expected of you in exchange for the luxury of extra room to work or relax.
Can you lift 30-50 pounds? This isn't bench pressing. It means can you lift 30-50 pounds with arms outstretched in front of you while unable to stand up straight in a tight spot? Can you remain calm while doing so when your life and others may be at risk? This isn’t a time for egos. If you are seated in the emergency exit row and the need arises to remove the door, adrenaline will surely kick in, but don’t rely on it. If you can’t lift the door don’t sit there.
In the case of the US Airways Hudson River crash, the passengers who removed the exit doors effectively allowed the passengers to escape onto the wings and allowing them access to rescue boats. That could have been one of us who jockey for position in the emergency row that would have been responsible for removing those emergency doors. Could you have done it?
Do you speak the language of the flight attendants and the majority of the other passengers so that you could understand and effectuate safety instructions in the event of an emergency? For international business travelers, this is extremely important. International business flights are notoriously long. The emergency row is even more attractive. But could you communicate with fellow passengers and crew in an emergency when you are in charge of the door? If not, sit elsewhere.
Are you traveling with a pet or an assistance animal? If so, you should avoid the emergency row. It’s not called the “Emergency Exit Row” because it has more legroom. It should be an unobstructed escape path.
Read the safety card. If you are in the emergency row, do you know what to do with the door once it’s removed? Read the safety card. It will tell you that you can put it on the seats in your row, or it may instruct you to place it elsewhere depending on the aircraft. Not all planes are alike. Read the safety card of the one you are flying.
In any seat on the plane, do you know where to find your safety vest? Read the safety card and listen to the safety lecture on how to don the vest. Usually it is stored under your seat, but on some aircraft and in certain seats it is in the arm rest. Check for it when you get on board. Is it there? I tripped one once that had come out of its pouch under the seat. I had a heck of a time finding the pouch underneath to replace it. Out of curiosity, after I returned to my seat from the restroom, I reached underneath to see if I could remove it from the pouch with more ease than it took to put it back in. I found it, but it wasn’t a swift task. When you get on a flight, at least locate it, without removing it.
When you board, make a mental note of where the closest exit is. It’s not just a memorized airline announcement that the closest exit may be behind you. After doing some research, it doesn’t seem like anyone has an unequivocal response to the question “what is the safest seat on an airplane?” But a helpful suggestion I found was this one: In addition to identifying the closest exit to your seat, find an alternative exit. Plan ‘A’ may not work. Also, count the rows to the nearest exit from your seat. If emergency lighting fails or your vision is impaired, you can count the rows to the emergency exit row you identify.
There are all sorts of aircraft that we use for business travel nowadays. From jets, to commuter prop planes, to helicopter taxis, to private planes. Look at the safety material provided to you for just a moment. Take one minute each trip to familiarize yourself with the contraption that is going to send you through the air at an enormous height and speed for the next however many minutes or hours.
Flying, although statistically safer than driving a car, is an unnatural phenomenon for humans. We are not birds. Planes, for whatever reasons, sometimes make emergency landings or even crash. We become lax because it has never happened to the majority of us. Things can and will go wrong and as business travelers, we are in the air more often than our traveling counterparts. I think I can safely represent that no one who has ever survived an airplane crash in any setting expected to be exiting the plane onto the wing while floating down a river, or out of a burning fuselage in a field, etc.
Read the safety card.
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