AirTran Flight Attendant Training – Ditching the plane in water from David Brown on Vimeo.

Yesterday I talked about how flight attendants must learn a lot about safety and hopefully never have to use it. Once per year current flight attendants must return to AirTran’s training facility in Atlanta, GA to practice their safety skills. Part of that training involves the proper procedures during a water landing.  The recent US Airways ditch in the Hudson River is a reminder that these things can happen and by following the flight attendant’s commands can save lives.

The ditch training was inside a mock Boeing 717 with about seven rows. The flight attendants had no idea that fake smoke would be pumped into the cabin. I knew it was going to be dark (I had night vision on my camera, in reality you could barely see anything). I knew it was a water landing. I knew there was going to be smoke pumped in. I also knew it was all fake.  However, once the training started, it was very disorienting and although the flight attendants were yelling to get my life vest, I initially forgot it and had to go back to get it. That could have been the difference between life and death.

In the video you can hear some laughing and we were all having a good time with the practice, but it was taken very seriously.  There were only about 15 of us in that small cabin, but it was shocking how long it took us to get out. There obviously was no real panic or rush to save our own lives, I couldn’t imagine the chaos that would occur during a real crash with over 150 passengers trying to evacuate an aircraft.

I wish every passenger could experience something like this, to be prepared to react in a life or death situation, since reading the safety information card, just cannot prepare you.

A Day In The Life Of…A Training Flight Attendant

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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That is interesting I didn’t realize they trained with real smoke in the cabin.

Woah! Totally cool. I want to be one of the pretend passengers!


mr pibb

“I’m a rebel”, best line of the whole film 😉

it is really required to repeat that over and over? those flight attendants were getting on my nerves.

Yea, I was joking after wards with the flight attendants that in real life, probably some idiot would be trying to film the whole thing instead of taking the crash position.

In the video it might seem annoying them announcing it, but in reality it is very important they repeat their commands. Look what happened with me. I knew what was going to happen, they kept repeating commands and I STILL forgot my life vest.



I’m an AirTran FA…yes, we really have to keep screaming those commands over and over. Trust me, for as annoying as it sounds, it’s worse for us, as we have to project to an entire plane full of people…and they’re not small planes. Even just practicing the commands (repeating them about two or three times) is enough to lose your breath and feel your throat start to get raw.


Wow – this is really interesting! I’m glad that these flight attendants do yearly training on safety — it makes me feel safer about flying!!!

I was fully expecting to see at least one passenger pull a Costanza and start shoving women and children out of their path to the exit row.

Seeing this training video and reading about your forgotten flotation device just serves to make the Miracle on the Hudson that much more amazing.

Thanks Air-Tran for showing us behind the curtain.


I am loving your postings on your trip to Air Tran FA training facility.. It’s great you are sharing what hard work it is to become a FA….Some folks are still under the impression it’s glamourous

Looking forward to the the next instalments…

Keep up the fantastic work you do here…


I got to meet David Parker Brown of Airline Reporter fame tonight at a fancy hotel in Tacoma. He is very handsome


I am a flight attendant and have just read your story. I have just got through re-current, which means I am a “pro” and love your behind the scenes access. I hope that passengers from around the country and world for that matter will read your story and watch the video and understand that we are not just there to say hello and hand out a soda and a snack but we are there to save each and every passengers lives. I didn’t see if you mentioned how long we have to get everyone off the plane, but a fact that almost no one except flight crews know is that we have 90 seconds to get up to 137 passengers off a plane with only half of all the exits usable (ie. 3 out of 6). Also to the person that asked if we had to keep shouting everything, YES we must it does get repetative and yes we may lose our voices by time everything is said and over with but it is so that passengers will not stand up, get out of the brace position, or take anything with them. It also conveys what to do. Like grab your lifevest, grab seat cushion, jump into the water or slide down the evacuation slide, and to not take anything with you. Thank you again for showing the flying public what my and my colleagues around the world job really is!

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