Air Crashes and Luggage


Take a good look at the photo on the left.  It’s a shot of survivors exiting the Asiana Airlines plane that crashed at SFO. But take a good look a the center of the photo. (You can click on the photo to get  it to enlarge.) There’s a lady in green wheeling a large bag. That’s right, she stopped to get her bag before exiting the plane.

And she wasn’t the only one according to this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Fortunately, no one lost their lives due to this selfish action by a few passengers. But who can say this is always the case. What if it wasn’t a 777 but a 737 or MD-80 and she had to go out out an emergency window rather than an emergency door. Would she hold up the line continually trying to get her bag out the small opening?

After reading the article, I’d like to give some suggestions on what to do to prepare for such an event. As I usually say, “expect the best but prepare for the worst.”

If you ever need to evacuate a plane, leave your carry-on. The stuff can be replaced. Your life or the life of a fellow passenger can’t.

If you’re worried about cash and credit cards, don’t put them in your carry on. Keep them on your person or in a small bag–not full size carry-on–that can easily be grabbed in an emergency.  The bag should be no wider than you so both can get out of any size emergency exit. I keep my extra cash and credit cards in a moneybelt. I also put my smartphone in my pocket during take off and landing. As long as I have cash and some credit cards, I can always get home. If I also have my smartphone with me, I can let friends and family know I’m okay and make plans a lot easier. If you do utilize a small bag or purse, this should be at your feet and not in the overhead.

For those of you who like to take your shoes off while in flight, here’s a suggestion: when the seat belt light is on, your shoes should be on.

Just before you sit down, count the number of rows to the nearest emergency exit.  This takes no time and really is a good idea in case the cabin fills with smoke.

Know where your life vest is located and how to use it. Did you notice when the USAir plane went down in the Hudson how few people had their life vests on.

To some of you this may seem redundant. You may be thinking that you fly often enough you don’t need it.

Famous last words.

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15 Responses to Air Crashes and Luggage

  1. Great tips Frank…. I think we take it for granted that every flight will be uneventful but tragedies like this are a reminder that that is not always the case!

  2. Alan B says:

    A related problem by media report was the failure of many overhead bin latches allowing bags to fall out; likely the NTSB and Boeing will review this matter, in addition to the core issue as to WHY the final approach speed was 103 knots instead of 137 it’s.

  3. Frank@OBOW says:

    From what I’ve read so far, and as a former pilot, I can speculate as to what happened. (This is just an early speculation.)
    The pilot did not report any problems on approach. However, just before landing, pilots flare the nose up slightly to lower speed and to have a smoother landing. It’s possible that this pilot, who was still in training on the aircraft, pulled the nose up too high (videos and eye witnesses claim this.) Pulling the nose up lowers the speed of the aircraft. If it gets too low, the plane will stall (lose lift) and fall. Normally, stall recovery is learned very early in flight training and something any pilot can handle, private or commercial, on the plane they are qualified to fly–as long as he has altitude.
    Considering where the stall happened, and also considering that jets don’t respond in a mere second or two, the plane was too low to the ground to save it. The plane touched down some 1/4-1/3 of a mile before the normal touchdown point meaning something happened to drastically change the final aspects of approach. A nose high stall would do it.

    As for the overhead bins, the latches are not going to withstand a major impact. We often hear of passengers getting injured by stuff flying out of overhead bins during severe turbulance?

  4. annabanana says:

    Looking at the amateur video of the plane crash that was posted on yesterday, it appears that the plane crash was quite violent. After seeing the video, I am amazed that the plane did not flip over because at one point, it looked like it was about to. It is no wonder that there are so many passengers with severe spinal cord injuries…even though they were in their seats with their seat belts fastened.

    Your blog post about this is a really good reminder. In the past, I have often kept my wallet, ID, etc., in my carry-on bag rather than on my person. From here on out, I am keeping it on my person at all times.

  5. Frank@OBOW says:

    Everyone should keep ID on them at all times when traveling.

    Should some unexpected event occurs, and you are hurt, having ID will help authorities know who you are. It’s also a good idea to carry the name and contact information of your next of kin, the names of any people you are traveling with and their contact information, and a complete itinerary of your hotels. This way, if something happens to you, the authorities will know who to contact and how to get a hold of them. And even if you’re traveling alone, they will know where your stuff is located.

  6. Paula Bag Lass says:

    I wear my small bag throughout my flight, it holds all my important items like passport, tickets, money, meds, cell phone, emergency contact ID, credit cards etc. I also keep those items in a Ziploc baggy for waterproofing… case of a water landing.
    I wear clothes that will dry quickly, sneakers that I don’t remove during the flight and a warm jacket (which I use as a pillow). My Adventure jacket (from Magellans) is my ‘extras’ carry-on, including some snacks.
    I not only check the exits when boarding but also study the seat plan when choosing my seat.
    Some may scoff, but it pays to be prepared for worse case scenarios, I’ve been on a couple of scary flights, been met by Heathrow Fire Brigade upon landing and experienced a nasty landing, it doesn’t take much for things to go pear shaped. I’ve been a flying passenger for 48 years.

  7. Lordhamster says:

    Chinese traveling to the US (1/2 the plane was from China) often travel with large sums of cash in carryon luggage or on their person. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people seen from the luggage were literally carrying a fortune. Not just some gym shorts.

    Can’t really blame them… plus who knows how we would react in the same situation.

  8. Pingback: A Getaway Bag in the Rare Event of a Plane Crash

  9. bchaplin says:

    Thanks for writing this. It’s an issue I’ve been thinking about, particularly since the SF crash. I’m considering getting a dyneema Side Effect (from Tom Bihn), as something inconspicuous enough to wear without being told to place it in the seat in front of me during takeoff and landing. If the bag were swiveled around so that it was between my back and the seat, or tucked under my legs, I’d imagine it would not be noticed by the flight attendants.

    A moneybelt is another solution, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable wearing one, particularly on long flights. I kind of like the idea of a small bag.

    Anyway, a timely post. Thanks!

  10. Frank@OBOW says:

    A Tom Bihn Side Effect with optional waist strap, or any other small type bag that can be carried hands free, is ideal. You must keep your hands free of any objects and if you try to wear something too big, the flight attendants might take it away.

    If you have to go down a chute, you’re going fast and you will want your hands and arms free to possibly help brace yourself if you come off the chute too fast and take a small tumble.

    My rule is this: You have one second to grab whatever it is you want to take. One second. After that, you might be risking your safety or the safety of someone else. One second to grab what you need, put it on, and make your way out of the plane. Your hands and arms need to be free of anything and whatever it is you grabbed has to be small enough to almost miss being noticed by anyone.

    I should add that most airlines will tell you to take nothing. That’s probably great advice because most people are not prepared for an emergency. But if you are prepared, and have planned it out, you can grab what you need.

    Let’s just hope you never have to.

  11. madmax says:

    Frank – excellent tips…

  12. Alan B says:

    See my notes elsewhere regarding the Mountainsmitth Vibe, similar in size to the Side Effect, costs about the same, somewhat better engineered for daylong carry.

  13. Megan E. says:

    So glad you touched on this article, I read it and immediately thought of this site. I like your tips for sure, and while I always have my purse with everything ON MY KNEES, if I go to the loo, it’s not with me and so getting a secondary tiny bag (like a neck money belt/bag or something) with the emergency stuff in it would be a good idea, something you can wear all the time and be comfortable.

    As for shoes, I leave them on if they aren’t “slip on/off” and if they are, I put on socks instead – while socks aren’t shoes, they still cover your feet in case of an emergency.

  14. madmax says:

    Would be nice if they allowed small knives/SAKs onboard… Looks like pople could have escaped a lot faster:

  15. Frank@OBOW says:

    The article is mistaken about the slide. Passengers did not deflate it. One of the crew grabbed the fire ax kept in the flight deck to deflate the raft.

    Secondly, are you saying that if you have a pocket knife and you have to evacuate a plane in an emergency, you’re volunteering to stay on board until all the passengers are out just in case one is trapped and needs a knife?