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“The fact that so many passengers would decide to stop and collect some or all of their belongings during an emergency evacuation is a worrying finding.”

Cailey Rizzo
September 16, 2018

In the event of an emergency, airplane passengers are expected to make their way as quickly as possible to the closest emergency exit, and are specifically instructed to leave behind all personal belongings on the plane during an emergency evacuation.

In a recent survey conducted by ComRes for the Royal Aeronautical Society in the U.K., however, 35 percent of respondents said they would attempt to gather their belongings before leaving an aircraft, even if specifically instructed not to.

In a situation where there was an immediate threat to passengers, 61 percent of respondents said they would take nothing with them. But in a situation that didn’t pose an immediate threat to passengers, 75 percent said they would grab some of their belongings before leaving the plane.

“The fact that so many passengers would decide to stop and collect some or all of their belongings during an emergency evacuation is a worrying finding,” Terry Buckland, chairman of the Royal Aeronautical Society flight operations group, said in a statement. “Aviation authorities and operators should consider if current requirements, as well as industry practices, support the most rapid and safest emergency evacuations.”

Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report which stated that four separate emergency evacuations were slowed down by passengers trying to grab their luggage before leaving the aircraft. In an interview, one flight attendant told a story about a passenger running down the aisle with a bag over their head, shouting, “I’m taking it with me.”

The chairman of the NTSB talked about implementing fines for taking bags during an emergency evacuation so “people might be less inclined to worry about all their Gucci luggage.”

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