British Airways flight 2276 at Vegas - Photo: McCarran Airport

British Airways flight 2276 at Vegas – Photo: McCarran Airport

Today, we at AirlineReporter share two different opinions on passenger evacuations of an airliner during an emergency. In recent incidents, we have seen passengers taking their bags and people reacting. This story shares the opinion that it is not that big of a deal to take your bag and is written by an anonymous writer (that has been verified), who is a frequent flier, no stranger to the airline business, and is a writer. Be sure to read the opposite opinion and share your thoughts in the comments.

First off, I agree that probably it is best to leave your bag on a crashed/burning airliner. However, the attention that I have seen given to passengers who end up taking their bags with them during an emergency sickens me.

These people just went through a major incident, where many likely felt that they were going to die. Could you imagine going through something like that and then instead of having people asking you if you are okay, they harass you? I wouldn’t want that either. It now seems to be the popular thing to do.

If some of you will take the time to get off your high horse and read this, maybe you won’t be so quick to judge. I argue that people shouldn’t automatically be ostracized for grabbing their bag in the middle of a potentially deadly evacuation.

A GE90 engine, like that on the British Airways Boeing 777-200ER Photo: AirlineReporter

A GE90 engine, like that on the British Airways Boeing 777-200ER – Photo: AirlineReporter

With the increased use of social media, images of airline-related incidents and accidents make their way around the world quickly. Just as quickly, people seem to make conclusions, without always thinking things through. A person does something (often stupid, but not evil), someone on social media decides to shame them, others find that to be a good idea and all of a sudden, we have a nice little social-justice-mob that ebbs and flows their hatred.

Although I partly write this argument tongue-in-cheek, I understand the reality that a passenger’s decision to take the time to haul out their bags in an emergency could be deadly. Do not get me wrong, I am NOT suggesting that passengers all grab their bags and slowly make their way out of the plane. Nor am I saying that a bag is worth more than a person’s life — that’s ridiculous. What I am trying to argue is that the person you see with a panicked look on their face, a wrecked plane in the background and a bag in hand, might not be evil and probably doesn’t deserve all the negative attention that they seem to keep getting.

Let’s get to some of my thoughts on why people might be bringing their bags:

It’s chaos: I will admit that I have not been in a real airline evacuation, but I have been in other panic-ridden situations where I wasn’t sure if I would make it out alive. The shit’s crazy. You can sit at your keyboard and think (or “know”) how you might react, but until you are thrown into it, you do not know what you will do. Sure, commands can be yelled, the safety video could have clearly given me instructions, but just check out the video above to see how all that can easily be lost in the confusion (and that wasn’t even real). Remember – when people are in crisis mode, they react irrationally at times.

Muscle memory: One of the reasons why this incident ended up with a happy ending is due to the training of the flight crew. They are continually trained so that if something like this happens, they just react and do what is needed to make sure the passengers are safe.

I fly a lot — dozens of flights per year. Guess what I do each and every flight? I grab my stuff and get off the plane. I am actually trained to do so, not only by the flight crew, but also by other impatient passengers – quickly gather my belongings and deplane. When a passenger is put into a panic situation, they are going to react to their “training,” of quickly gathering their stuff and get off the plane.

Death from leaving a bag behind: I am not going into details here, but I have important medication near me at all times. If I do not have it, when I need it, I can very easily die. Carrying it on me does not work and I am not going to take the time to dig it out of my carry-on. Who knows where I am going or what will happen to me when I get off that plane. If I am injured and end up in the hospital, or it was a terrorist action and I am questioned for hours, I can’t be without my medication. I am getting off a plane and my bag is going with me. Period.

Language barrier: This might shock some of you, but the entire world doesn’t speak English. The airline is not able to go through 20 different languages during an evacuation, nor can they do so during the safety demonstration. Don’t assume that a person even knows that they are not supposed to be taking their bag with them.

Safety blanket: Going through an experience like that isn’t easy. Maybe the need to grab your stuff might not be as much muscle memory, but looking for a security blanket. Not literally, but having to navigate through a smoky cabin, having people screaming, jumping off a slide, and possibly dying isn’t fun. I might grab something like my bag, my head pillow, laptop, just to have something of mine to feel safer. Something between me and the dangers. The best thing to do? No. The human thing to do? Sometimes.

Take the gamble: Typically in my carry-on, there is quite a few things of value (remember, they always tell you to not check your valuables) and not just things worth money. If I lost my phone, my laptop, my iPad, and any paperwork that I might be carrying, sure that is a few thousands of dollars worth of stuff, but it would be a huge set back for my business.

Some clients would understand either my delay or backing out of a deal due to a plane fire, but I can tell you that others would not. Now, my few thousand dollars worth of items being lost, could turn into a much bigger expense– not to mention the countless hours that I spent on stuff. Is any of this worth my life or that of another person? No. But, I feel I could evaluate the situation and take the gamble of taking the time to grab my small case and still make it out safe. And this relates to my next point.

Enough space & time: If a passenger is flying in a Boeing 747-400, back in economy, with 98% load factor, getting their stuff out of the overhead bin is not a good idea. If they are up in business class, with a load factor of 25%, maybe it is not as bad of an idea. They have the time and the space to get their stuff safely out and get off the plane. Yes, the rules say passengers shouldn’t, but there are lots of rules out there that we might choose to follow or not follow based on our own “street smart judgements.” Have any of you sped or rolled through a stop sign? Sure, when it is safe to do so, even though people will say “doing that will kill,” but statistically, it rarely does.

Assholes: You are going to get the people who just do not care about anything or anyone but themselves. They know they aren’t supposed to bring their stuff, but they don’t care. I am not a fan of these people. Even still, how about waiting a day or two after they just had a bad experience before harassing them. Harassing them on Twitter (or even in court) won’t mean anything to them — they won’t change. And in reality, by harassing them, you might be the one coming off looking like the asshole.

As with anything that could possibly go wrong in the airline business, many people are looking to regulate a solution. Locking the overhead bins in an emergency? Really? Who would do that? What if it malfunctions for a “normal” flight. Wouldn’t it just slow passengers down, because that muscle memory is still going to be there and they will be trying to get into the bins and confused on why they don’t open, delaying things even more?

More education? Sure, that is a great thing to just throw around, but how? By shaming them more on the internet? I don’t think there really could be much more education other than having a more positive conversation about all this.

Do I have a better solution? Not really — sorry. Am I hypocritical, yelling at people for being stupid because they are yelling at people for being stupid? I wouldn’t totally disagree with that. However, what I would really like to do here is start a dialog.

You can either take the time and pick apart things I maybe said wrong and tell me that I am a selfish OR you could think critically of some of the things that I said (and review the other story) and come up with some ideas.

Although I am anonymously sharing my thoughts, I will be watching, replying, and hopefully we can have a conversation. Typically I am not afraid of being public with my opinions, but after seeing how much more serious the negative tone has gotten on this topic, AirlineReporter felt it was best this way.

I felt like a few incidents ago, this topic was more open for debate, but now I feel like trying to just think about this in another way leads to people being targeted.

What do you think? Read the other opinion and then share your feelings in the comments!

From time-to-time we will share contributions from others on AirlineReporter. If you have strong writing skills, a passion for aviation and a story to tell, then learn about potentially sharing your story and then contact us.
Air New Zealand’s “Pleased to Seat You” Tour Lands in Vancouver
Bill Simpson

What always strikes me as the ultimate insult in the leave your bags argument is that there is no assurance you will ever get them back, even if the aircraft survives. After all, in a hull-loss scenario- everything becomes property of the insurance company. Does the insurance company care about your bag? No. What that means is that your perfectly, probably, intact bag is sitting in an overhead bin and because of judicial fiat- you no longer own it.

Will you ever get the value of the contents back, of course not. Does the airline have any legal obligation to give you a dime. Well, yes- but read the Warsaw convention.

Imagine if the aircraft is not on fire, there’s no smell of fuel, you are just there and have to go for a slide rather than a staircase. You are, at most, getting $1500 of your $20,000 plus camera kit back. It’s really unclear if your personal insurance will cover you in cases like this.

I’m taking as much as I can with me. Sorry, not sorry.

Also, all this bag chat is a distraction. Airplanes are more survivable than ever- the outcomes are basically binary these days. Either you are going to survive and, at most, be injured by the slide- or you are already dead.

The real issue we need to be focusing on is can people in an emergency even get out without bags in 90 seconds regardless. Does anyone honestly think that, beyond the realm of simulation, that you could evacuate a full 3-4-3 77W Y cabin with a barely 18″ aisle in 90s? Especially when average passenger BMI is increasing?

It doesn’t matter if you take your bags or not in a real emergency in that case because you are going to be stuck behind the elderly, the reduced mobility, the morbidly obsese, regardless. They will not be able to get out and because the aisles are so narrow, you can’t get past them.

This outrage over baggage is great in a way. It proves how safe aviation is. I hope we have more of it, not “self locking bins” that will inevitably break and trap people’s belongings infinitely more times than it mandatorily chides people for daring to not have their passport on them or under their seat.

This whole debate is just another example of the neo-puritanical internet shame machine where no thought, no difference of opinion, and no critical thinking can ever be allowed lest the orthodoxy be challenged.

The question comes down to a very simple one: Bill, would you choose for me to save YOUR life, or save my expensive STUFF?

It really is THAT simple.

Bear in mind, I don’t know you or care about you, and my STUFF is very very important to me, I want to keep it and not go through the hassle of replacing it.

So which would you like me to do if we’re both facing this situation?

And a note for you to protect your stuff: get insurance so you can replace the stuff, make sure everything on your computer is backed up to a cloud or off-site, and any vital things like passports or meds should be kept on your body in one of those convenient pouches that one can wear under their clothing or neatly and securely hidden on your person. i.e. like an Epipen which is vital for survival in some cases is usually carried at all times in a waist pouch. Pills are so small they can easily be stored on the body in compartments made for this purpose. Nothing truly necessary need be lost if you are smart before you board the plane. This will allow you to focus on saving your skin and the lives of others’ instead of scrambling for items that can be replaced.

I hope Bill doesn’t get caught in a plane fire. His life and the lives of others are less valuable than $20,000 worth of camera stuff. Sorry, not sorry.

Like someone else, I could go on and on about why or why not take our stuff. At first I thought I would take my backpack with me. But then again, I probably wouldn’t think about the stupid thing if my son and daughters are in the plane. Basic instinct: save the offspring, save others. I don’t know. I’ve never been in that situation, so how do I really know? Bigger question: how much do I really like my kids? They can be little a-holes. #thingsthatmakeyougohmm

Also, unless you have been in situation where a plane is on fire, you have the right to remain STFU. You can’t say you would or wouldn’t because you haven’t been in that situation. Rant over.

Story's Author

Hello Temo,

Thanks for your comment. I don’t think Bill (and I know for sure me) were not looking to put any value to someone’s live. I think most people who were faced with either “you get your $20,000 item or this person dies,” wouldn’t choose their item. I think in most cases, if you can safely grab your item, no one dies, then why not?

– Story’s Author

JL Johnson

Agree whole-hardheartedly. If this isn’t clear a life or death situation I’m leaving my roll aboard, but my camera bag is coming. If you are on my flight you are welcome to judge me. Also, should this ever happen, haters within our industry better not ask for permission to use my photos.

PS: There’s talk of fines. That’s ok. The cost to replace my equipment is sure to be more than a fine.

JL | AirlineReporter

Bill Simpson

Yup. Anything short of a felony (which I guarantee could be plead down due to explicit lack of proving mens rea) and anything that I can take that isn’t going to kill me or someone else is coming with me.

Fines are not a deterrent when you are carrying beyond the cost of a fine.

It’s one of those things where the opposing side immediately says “LIVES ARE AT STAKE!” No. Lives were at stake. By the time the slides deploy, if there are no flames, no fires, no fumes- it is highly highly unlikely that something is suddenly going to explode. On top of that. Unless you are at a really remote corner of the airport, ARFF will be there inside of 180 seconds and they’ll have the whole plane doused in foam. That’s going to destroy the fire triangle.

So really, you want to be without medications, without your passport (losing the right to use Global Entry forever), just because some guy on the internet threatened to beat you with a candy bar?

Story's Author

Hey JL,

That is what is also interesting to me. “OMG you are an idiot for bringing your camera/phone and taking photos when people could have died. Also, I will pay you $500 for those photos, thanks!”

– Story’s Author

Agree with Bill that our culture of Internet shaming is a becoming tiresome. This discussion maybe needs a little nuance? From my perspective, if someone’s actions in taking their baggage or personal items with them prevent or delay others from evacuating, then we have a serious problem. Or getting anything out of the overhead bin regardless of whether it delays, then that makes no sense. But if you have a purse or backpack that is small, light and not obstructing other passengers, then what is the problem in taking it with you?

Story's Author

Hello Timbo,

I agree with you that if someone takes the time to get their bag and it delays evacuation (even if no one is injured because of it) that is not a good thing. But one of the things I was trying to get across in my story was that people in that situation are not thinking logically. I would HATE for someone, who was in panic-mode and grabbing their bag because that is what they always do, they are confused and because of that, someone dies? Yes bad, but I am fairly certain that the online-social-justice would ruin that person’s life unfairly.

– Story’s Author

Brian Wohlgemuth

Bill, if you are getting that $20,000 bag out of the overhead compartment and I’m being held up on an evac, don’t be surprised if you are knocked out cold and find your ass being trampled as I and the horde of people behind me don’t share your viewpoint.

If it’s in your lap and you are not held up, I don’t think that’s a problem. But there were people with roller bags. F*ck them and f*ck you if that plane would have went up and several people died because you had to get your frigging equipment.

Bill Simpson

Wait, you really just played the assault card.

I live, and believe me if the slides are out- you aren’t dyin’. Enjoy lock-up. Thankfully, you posted on the internet that you had prior intent to commit assault. Nowhere does the law say you can beat someone up for grabbing stuff in an emergency. I hope you never end up in one and have to “use your better judgement” to “save lives”. Also, I’m not a small man. I played football in high school. Internet tough guyism really is hilarious.

This is why this is the dumbest argument on the internet. Time to learn boxing with my son I suppose- the internet tough guy brigade thinks assault is the answer.

Brian Wohlgemuth

And you’re playing the “Planes are safe…nothing to worry about here!” card.

They are “safe” because of the rigid safety protocols enabled by manufacturers, airlines, and government agencies. And (sadly) from lessons learned in over a century of aviation.

You can reach for your bag, and hold up traffic in the aisle in an evac…don’t be surprised instead of a polite “excuse me” that you have a crowd of people crawling over seats to get out of a plane that is on fire and using your face as a footstep…

I understand your worries about insurance, but if you are carrying $20k worth of gear, might I suggest $20k of travel insurance on that gear as opposed to putting lives in jeopardy during an evac. Especially when things like this happen in an evac…

“Less than 90 seconds after touchdown, the interior of the plane flashed over and ignited, killing 23 of the 41 passengers. The passengers trapped inside the plane died from smoke inhalation and burns from the flash fire. ”

I have no problem of you getting your things as long as you are the last person off the plane.

Doesn’t that example speak directly to Bill’s point? “The interior of the plane flashed and ignited” — there was no time to deploy the slides, there no was no time to even start evacuating. It didn’t matter if people would have grabbed their bags or not.

Story's Author

Hello Brian,

Thanks for reading and your thoughts. I was trying to make two points on this. #1 If someone grabs their bag, let’s not just assume that they are assholes and treat them like shit. #2 Yes, the rules are the rules and they shouldn’t be changed, but sometimes you can make a solid decision on the fly (no pun intended). If I am up in the front of the cabin, people in economy aren’t in my space. I can easily get to the slide. I see no smoke. Will taking the extra 5s to grab my back-pack going to cause issues? No.

I am also with you, that if I am in a situation where people are dying, the cabin is filled thick with smoke and there is someone or people in the way for one reason or another — I am pushing through. I don’t want to do anything to cause people to die, but I am not about to die because someone is stupid.

– Story’s Author

In the panic I don’t think anyone will be worrying about “assault”, they just want to save their lives. If you’re stopping for equipment, you risk getting trampled. By your own logic, you can’t blame anyone for what they do in an emergency. They aren’t thinking clearly. I hardly think you’d be able to say anyone assaulted you with intent to harm you, they just want to survive.

Here’s the thing about bags. It not only takes up additional time, blocks the people behind them, but could also potentially rip or otherwise damage the inflatable slide, which screws everyone who hasn’t gotten off the plane at that point. These instructions to leave everything are not arbitrary and thrown in there to inconvenience the passengers. They are set in place so in case of emergency, the aircraft is evacuated as quickly as possible. If you don’t see smoke or smell fuel, that doesn’t mean that you’re not still in imminent danger. The writer of the article seriously has a complaint that his business will suffer if he doesn’t have his iPad. Well, someone’s kid is seriously going to suffer after the loss of a parent because some selfish person decided their bag with their electronics is worth more than someone else’s life.

Story's Author

Hey Emily,

Thanks for your reply.

I few things I would like to keep discussing, because I think you bring up some valid points — most of which I agree with. I am not trying to say that the rules are a bad thing. They are actually quite good. What I am trying to say that no matter what rules are in place, people might not follow them because of the things I laid out in my story. I think those in the “asshole” field are the ones who deserve a good deal of attention. The rest, I am not so sure.

If the rules are out there, but people aren’t following them, how do we get them to know about them and their importance?

If I was in an emergency situation and I felt that me grabbing my laptop bag (or sometimes backpack), which I 99% keep in the seat in front of me, was going to cause anyone injury or death, no way I would take it. In reality though, me throwing on my backpack and keeping my valuables wouldn’t cause injury, death or damage to the aircraft. I also understand that airlines can’t be like “well, if you feel it is safe, take your stuff, otherwise don’t.”

– Story’s Author

What it sounds like is that you feel like being in the situation and not having the fight-or-flight response kick in means that everything is okay. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you from a professional standpoint, that this is a calculated projection during an emergency situation in order to keep chaos at a minimum. As a passenger, you are given exactly the instruction that is necessary, but not an ounce more. I understand that it is difficult for you to fathom this in the event that your sensory perception is not triggered, but the “extra 5 seconds” you would take in order to grab your backpack or briefcase is vital. If an aircraft is being evacuated, it is for just cause. I will explain this from a monetary cost perspective, as this seems to be the platform you seem most likely relate to. From an airline cost perspective alone, deploying a slide on an otherwise functioning aircraft is an automatic $30,000 per slide. This cost is what it takes to repack each slide after deployment. On a full flight, without factoring in ancillary fees, an airline makes $4 per seat from each fare. An Airbus 319 configured for economy has about 140 seats. Slide deployment in a non-imminently life-threatening situation seems like terrible math. You may not smell fuel, or see smoke, but if you see a slide deployed, it is because there is not better choice than immediate evacuation. My advice to you is to listen to your cabin crew and leave everything, because it is an emergency, and with more information than you are given, even they aren’t positive what the outcome will be. That “extra 5 seconds” is more valuable than you could possibly gauge. I am thankful that aircraft incidents are extremely rare, because it is pure ignorance that causes a member of the general public to think they would know better than the professionals. The “get your small items” rationale is hurtful. Leave it. It isn’t worth it. If the situation gets handled without loss of life, your stuff will get returned to you.

Story's Author

Hey Emily,

I think you make valid points and I very much think that the rules should state that everyone leaves everyone behind. I would like to see that. Although I do argue that I would likely take some of my important stuff, if shit was real, I am leaving everything behind. But, if I have the time to throw on my small backpack, which will impede nothing, I am going to do it. Many other passengers are going to do it — right or wrong.

My main point of the story was to show that these happen, people take their bags, and these are some of the reasons that I think why. Not all of them are right and no one should ever do it at the risk of themselves or others.

– Story’s Author

Yeah, sure, get that priceless iPads and cameras out, who cares about guys in the back, right? Unless that’s your wife and kids hurt because of the other guy’s precious camera, in which case I bet you won’t be so ready to forgive…

I do hope that one day such a “bag guy” gets in a court and ends up paying someone’s medical bills, for example.

As for the medication – which is the only valid argument here – have you ever considered packing it in a separate case to take out and put beside your carry-on when on a flight? Just to make sure you do have a chance to get it out even without the bag? Or you just don’t *really* believe this can happen to you, so you don’t really prepare for the worst?

But I certainly wouldn’t want to live with the knowledge that my bag cost a couple of other people’s lives or injuries. Especially these days, where it will all be recorded and investigated, and posted around on the Internet for everyone to know. So I keep my phone and passport on me when on a plane, and am fully prepared to leave my bag with all contents when evacuating. Because safety comes first.

How many things are you going to stop and take the time to grab? Is it really any different waiting for you to fish around your seat and in the seatback to find your phone and passport?

Or do you hold them in your hand during every takeoff and landing, just in case the plane catches on fire?

This debate has reached shrill levels, including professional media members (not Linda) using profanity to describe people who reacted in an emergency.

I have ZERO problem with some woman grabbing her purse on the way out. None. That wouldn’t delay anything at all, because it’s not in the overhead. I don’t have a problem with a guy grabbing a small backpack or anything else under the seat. I’d have a big problem if someone dragged a rollerboard out of the overhead and took that down the chute.

Story's Author

I agree with you John. But I also think that the airline (FAA, etc) can’t be like “it is okay to get your small items, but not the rest” during an emergency. That would cause confusion. For me, personally, it is like “great, yea everyone leave your stuff, but I am going to take mine, if it is safe to do so.”

– Story’s Author

Story's Author

Hey Linda,

Thanks for your thoughts. I probably should have clarified, that I don’t see many, if any situations where I would take the time to grab my large roller bag. But, I am not 100% sure how I would react if I was in the situation. I am also not trying to say it is right that someone took their roller bag because their were panicked or they had a language barrier, I am hoping to add some insight so people aren’t so quick to judge and hate on these people who just went through something pretty terrible.

I am going to be prepared for if something goes wrong on an airliner, but I am not going to be going crazy. Since the 1980s, there have only been a few thousand passengers who have died in airline crashes. About 80 today will die in cars, just in the US. I am not saying that I am not prepared, I just fly a lot and I am not going to be doing a bunch of things, every flight, that will inconvenience me and potentially others just for the one in like 30,000,000 chance that I might have to evacuate.

I share your opinion that I wouldn’t want to see someone end up dying because someone took time for their bag. Not only the guilt and the legal again against them, but how brutal the social media social justice brigade will get.

– Story’s Author

Poor passengers are being shamed. Am I supposed to feel bad for those that put others in danger? Also, no one was shamed….every one of those passengers are still anonymous…just like the author of this article.

Not kidding, I think they should be fined and maybe jailed if someone behind them ended up dying.

Have medication that you require? Understandable! But let the courts determine if your slowing others down warrants that.

Could it be an instinctual to reach for it? Maybe. I think regulation, enforcement, and airline explanation needs to drive the point home.

The bottom line is that it puts lives at risk. People need to not do it, and be accountable.

If I am ever on an evac’ing plane and someone in front of me reaches for an overhead bin, I will use violence to ensure passage of myself and those around them.

But won’t your supposed use of violence slow down the evacuation of the others as well?? Seems a bit ironic to me

It sounds like anyone carrying anything is lumped together. Stupidly struggling to wrest a roll aboard from the overhead bin isn’t close to grabbing a soft sided brief case from under the seat in front of you and then beating feet for the exit. Would I do that? You bet. Without my passport, prescription meds and cell phone contained therein I’d probably just endure a slower demise once out of the aircraft.

Story's Author

Hey Shindig,

You bring up a good point and one that I didn’t think about until the discussion on this topic. I think there is a big difference between taking a small item, that you can easily get to, versus grabbing a huge rollaway.

However, I still stand by my arguments on why some passengers might do it. Don’t think they are all assholes.

– Story’s Author

I am baffled by this “need” to evacuate with your carry-on. Very simple pre-departure tasks can make this perceived need to take a carry-on disappear. To butcher a phrase, “Failure to plan on your part does not allow you to endanger others in an emergency.” Just be a good Boy/Girl Scout (or Civil Air Patrol member, or Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force/Coast Guard, whatever..) and Be Prepared!

Laptop/Tablet/Paperwork/etc – Anyone who doesn’t perform a backup before leaving on a flight is asking for trouble. You drop your bag, airport security or customs “liberates” your device, or countless other pitfalls of travel could render your device a doorstop. If you backup before you depart then you feel no desire to evacuate with your laptop. As to paperwork, always have backups. If you lose them the copies can be sent overnight to you.

Phone and Passport – I put them in my pocket during boarding and do not remove them until I hear the 10k ft chime. They are back in my pocket once the seatbelt sign comes on for landing. If I have to evacuate they are with me, unless I lose my pants – which would just be an interesting story.

Medication – Do you seriously believe that evacuating at an airport with fire/rescue in an industrialized nation means you can’t get your medicine? Medical services would not tell you that you are out of luck. They would do their job and ensure you have the medical care, including medicine, that you need.

Story's Author

Hey Jason,

Part of my argument was why I would take my bag. If a plane with 250 crash and there are lots of injuries, the regional medical services are going to be overloaded. Getting me my meds wouldn’t be that easy. Even big cities are not able to effectively handle that sort of emergency and what if we crash far away from a city?

I agree that people should be more prepared. I think through emergency situations all the time and what I would do, but most don’t and won’t.

And for sure, I want to make sure I get off the plane with my pants :).

– Story’s Author

You are given instructions from the flight crew to leave your belongings behind in an emergency evacuation. If you do not do that , it is failing to follow flight crew instructions. If you fail to follow their instruction like not sitting during taxi/takeoff/landing you can be arrested. What is the difference?

If your medication is so important you should plan ahead. I have copies of my passport/medication/credit card numbers that I can get to even if I loose my laptop/phone or the actual items. All of this can be replaced. If I do not want to lose something I leave it at home. This is not an excuse to endanger others lives.

Do you kick your shoes off as soon as you sit in your seat? Do you fall asleep before takeoff? I see it all the time. Sorry but this is dumb. Wait until the aircraft has done its climb to 10000ft or so. Running across a runway in bare feet will be unpleasant. It will be worse than unpleasant if there are burning parts everywhere. This is something people never think about. Again plan ahead and think about where you are and what you are doing. I have flown 2,000,000 miles in my life with only a couple of emergency”s. On every flight I take I think about how am I going to save myself if something goes wrong.

Yes I will push you out of the way if you are getting your bag during an emergency evacuation. Sue me, at least I will be alive for that to happen.

If you want your bag just sit in your seat until everyone else has had a chance to evacuate the aircraft. Then feel free the grab your priceless bag and run.

DK’s statement is one of the best I’ve read and I totally agree.
Totally entitled, selfish, self centered people!

Story's Author


I wonder if you read my story? Do you think someone who doesn’t know English is a greedy person? How about someone who has PTSD and is not able to function properly?

– Story’s Author

Rusty Shackleford

Here’s the thing.

You live. But does the law say “passport destroyed in aircraft accident allows you to use Global Entry ever again”? No. Not at all. People would also be more likely to leave their stuff if the law was amended such that if a passport was verified destroyed in an aircraft accident- they would not be stuck in customs for the rest of their lives .

I’d rather be dead, or suing someone for gross bodily harm than stuck in customs at MIA every time I have to come back from a business trip to Medillin!

Another thing. Again, this whole schtick of disobeying flight crew will not hold up in court. Good luck proving criminal intent. Cannot be done.

What can be proven, however, is that if any internet tough guy beats me up to get off the plane via slide rather than airstairs with no threat of injury other than them or exiting the slide wrong- the internet has done a great job of proving their intent to cause bodily harm.

Also the internet shaming/violence side seems to completely ignore the fact that a. you are very unlikely to be in an emergency and that b. most of the loss of life has not been caused from taking bags. Why? Well. Surface to Air missiles have killed more people than taking a bag ever will.

Even with OZ214, after that maelstrom, some poor dazed pax were taking their bags. What was the cause of death for the others? ARFF.

The evidence is not on the side of the internet shame machine. This will only cause them to puff their chests further in the era of feels vs. reals.

I will give up my Global Entry. I would rather be around to see my son grow up than have Global Entry. Most people do not even know about what happens to your Global Entry if you lose or destroy your passport.

I do not see any threats of tough guy beats you up in any of these treads.

Every aviation accident causes changes to be made in the we fly. 9/11/2001 has changed our travel lives forever. It is the way it is.

Like I said before, just keep your seat and wait for the rest of to get off the aircraft first.

Story's Author


I think most of your points are valid, when thinking ahead, on the ground, in a calm situation. Things are VERY different in a panic situation.

It is great that you are so prepared, but you realize that something like this happening is soooooooooooooo rare for a person. Should I leave my shoes on? Sure. Do I? No. I don’t think there has been one situation where someone died or was seriously injured because they didn’t have shoes on. Hell, I am quite certain that women (or men — I don’t judge) are not supposed to have high-heels on the slide anyhow?

Think about driving. We shouldn’t talk, smoke, drink, eat, (even as a passenger) sleep, move around. The safest thing is to be alert, sitting straight, be awake. But we don’t and driving is WAAAY more dangerous.

And if someone is blocking my way because they are getting their bag… I am pushing them out of the way too.

– Story’s Author

I guess my 26 years in the Military makes me think of this kind of situation on a different level. My point is ”not to panic”. Yes it will be a chaotic situation but keep you focus so that you have a better chance to survive.

High-heels, you don”t where them to the park or playground because it is not a good plan. Don”t where them on an airplane. Once again, some people think differently about things.

The chances of this happening are very small but it can happen. For me the worst part of flying or travel for that matter is being stuck in the herd where you loose some control of how you can react.

Your last sentence says it all, do not mess with my safety just because you can”t live without your stuff that is in that backpack or roll aboard back. And let”s be clear, my bag always has valuables in it, high dollar laptop/ipad/phones/headphones and my medication and passport or wallet. That stuff” is not worth my LIFE.

Story's Author

DK – no question your military service has helped you to know the rules, see the situation and follow orders. But realize that the vast majority of people on the plane won’t have that to their advantage.

I don’t think anyone (except the extreme assholes) would pick stuff over life. If I choose to go 5mph over the speed limit am I upping the chance I might kill someone? Yup. Worth the risk? Yup — well, it depends.

– Story’s Author

JL Johnson

Why all of this talk about taking extra time and delaying everyone else? I sit at the window… Always. The aisle and middle already get out before me. Then I allow folks BEHIND ME to continue to deplane while, from the aisle seat reach up and get my crap out of the bin. Only once I’m situated do I jump in line. Time wasted for everyone else? Zero. I think the point here is that -like everything- it’s not just black and white, even though one side always demands they are undeniably right and have accounted for all variables.

Story's Author

Thanks JL,

In reality, I bet those, like me, who say they would grab their stuff, will really be running out while crying, while those who say they would NEVER take their bag will be the ones backing people up. Chaos and panic are weird things!

– Story’s Author

The story’s author is *very* sure that he can tell when it’s safe enough to grab the bag. So, at that chaotic moment in the middle of an emergency, he can look around and tell instantly that not only is it safe for him to slow the evacuation down to grab his carry on, but that it will also be safe for the last passenger off the plane to be delayed similarly.

That’s a remarkable power.

Story's Author

Hello Total,

Yes, I agree that people have an inflated ego when it comes to making a safety-call and this is one reason why we have so many rules. I feel that I can tell better than others, but that is where the problem lies right?

But as JL just explained above, if I am in the window seat and my backpack is under the seat, I can grab it and add no time. If shit is going down, I am not even going to care about any sort of bag — get my ass out of that plane.

– Story’s Author

The problem is that it is not accepted and understood that SECONDS are the difference between life and death in these situations. We have Bill, who assumes he is “safe” because he’s on the ground and can’t see or smell smoke, fire, oil. He assumes the slides have been deployed, so it’s ok. Not that any second the entire plane could explode or be engulfed.
The idea that the ground people will come and put out the fire with foam — I just saw a flight that crashed on you tube and the fire brigade had issues extinguishing the fire with foam. One cannot be so naïve and trusting that the industry is going to save your life. Nothing is perfect, so you need to help things by being as careful and responsible as possible. That’s why they scream at your to leave your stuff. Seconds matter, and stuff honestly, no matter what it is, doesn’t.
Even your meds can be carried on your body in travel pouches that can also accommodate your passport etc. Keeping these items close to your person won’t get in the way of an evacuation. Grabbing bags? No. That’s unacceptable.

It’s bizarre to me that people trust the airline to have safety standards and to be able to fly the plane and maintain it etc. but when the same airline instructs them how to evacuate, they decide that THEY know better than these professionals.

Bobby Newmark

You are missing a couple of points:

1. If the goal is to keep people from slowing down evacuations, then this type of public outrage is EXACTLY what is needed. It will get the message out to as many people as possible that they shouldn’t do this. And strong emotions (i.e. outrage) cause memories to stick better.

2. You as a passenger CANNOT TELL whether the emergency is genuine or “cover your ass”. Just because YOU don’t see fire or smell smoke doesn’t mean there isn’t danger. Others with more information than you have made the decision, it’s stupid of you to question it.

3. Rules have to be simple and unambiguous. If people in the windows seat grab their backpacks costing no time, others will see them and try to grab more shit, even if it’s not “zero effective time”. When you’re herding idiots (and all people as a group are idiots) simplicity is key.

I posted this first in the companion story, but it probably belongs in this article too.

There”s an AirlineReporter picture of an economy class interior of a triple-7 in the September 20 story about ”[Not so] Accessible On-board Lavatories — Flying Disabled” The 10-across (3 x 4 x 3) seating leaves aisles that appear to be even narrower than those on singe aisle 737s and A320s! I wonder why the FAA and USDOT allow such high-density seating and such narrow aisles? Those aisles look too narrow for an aisle chair carrying a disabled passenger to and from their seat. But even worse, between the excessive passenger load and the inadequate aisles, these new ”high-density” 777s appear to be a disaster waiting to happen the next time a fully loaded plane catches fire on the ground. I see the issues of overcrowding AND lack of accommodation for the disabled to be related issues. Forget about saving laptops in the event of an emergency evacuation — wheelchair passengers are totally screwed! The disabled should be warned against flying economy on Triple-7s.

Malcolm Cumming

AirlineReporter | You’re subscribed to discussion of Airline Evacuations: a Passenger’s Opinion – Taking Your Bag is Not Evilagree

Peter Harrington-Cressman

Having been present and witnessing the entire AF358 incident in Toronto, it blows me away that you would ever think that taking your luggage with you is justifyable. The plane has crashed, there’s a raging fire and those big triangular things that have engines hanging from them? They are wings…and they are full of fuel. Fire + Fuel = Boom!

Wasting your time getting off the plane with your oversized choclate bar and the 5L bottle of vodka you bought in Duty Free is just stupidity. If you have a death wish, fine….but keep in mind that you are holding up the other people who are unfortuneate enough to be seated behind you.

Regardless of the emergency, there is no justification for taking your bags. Your job is to get off the plane quickly – thats it.

I’m a frequent flyer and I can’t believe some of the comments on this thread. I pray I’m not behind you assholes on the plane. When I fly, my passport and wallet are hung around my neck – attached at all times – so no need to grab them and they are not going to damage the slide. My other valuables (and yes, I have valuables in my carryon) are staying in the overhead. If I see anyone getting their roller-board out of the overhead locker they are likely to get their hand crushed as I shut the locker on it and scream abuse at them. I don’t wish to die just because you guys think things are more important than people. Locking overhead lockers is an excellent idea; throwing assholes in jail who take their luggage off even better. I agree that a wallet or purse or even phone that’s in the seat pocket in front of you is probably fine.. but seriously… stoping to open an overhead locker or rummage around under the seat? You guys are just assholes. And the writer of the article is just as bad for suggesting that you can’t do anything about assholes – social media shaming may be one of the most powerful tools available to stop this kind of asshole behaviour!

Malcolm Cumming

Looks like your frequent flying, with all its hassles, has turned you into a frustrated, angry person. Perhaps you can channel your feelings into making constructive efforts to convince airlines to pay attention to the comfort and safety of their customers. Airlines are creating high-density economy cabins that probably present far greater dangers than do passengers who grab their carry bag from the floor as they evacuate their cramped seat. You might contact the DOT and voice your concerns about evacuation safety. Demand that airlines not be allowed to add an extra seat in each row beyond the number that engineers originally designed. Planes designed for 8 seats now get 9 across. Planes designed for 9 across now get 10. Aisles are dangerously narrow. How ’bout some social media shaming of lax airline regulation?

Wearing your backpack or rolling your luggage take space in the aisle making the line to get out longer. So even if you can grab it without delay, your action pushes the people behind you further from the exit and potentially puts them where a fire is burning or on the other side of a fire. I don’t want to be at the end the line in an airplane aisle because people ahead of me are occupying space with their rolling luggage or backpacks. You may not think you are holding things up but you are.

I like the advice of keeping essentials with you or in a very small bag to grab and move fast. My passport, and bulk of money are around my neck, wallet and phone in my pants. Data is backed up. Family’s medications are in pockets. Everything else is replaceable. If you run a business, you are foolish if your business will fail if you lose your briefcase or luggage.

If your luggage is hampering my family’s escape, I will push you aside into the seats where you can wait. I will throw your luggage aside. You can sue me later, if you get out alive. Your selfishness and sense of entitlement has no place in an evacuation when seconds count, not with my life or my family’s or the people behind us.

Ahmad Shumayal

This is now very relevant again after video emerged of the recent Emirates crash landing where all the passengers where crowding and taking time to evacuate contrary to cabin crew and firemen’s instructions. Thankfully all evacuated safely but one fire fighter died.

I lean towards the opposite view and believe in not taking bags. But both are pretty extreme as the author rightfully mentions about lack of compensation. What if this compensation is in place, would that be incentive enough?

To conclude, take your bags only if it is highly portable (I know this needs to be defined properly because somebody might just bring their roller trolley bag with them citing portability) and if the space around you is totally empty.

Now this goes off-course again, as the video from the recent incident shows congestion.
So human tendency to think goes like, if this aisle is already congested and people aren’t evacuating, then why can’t I take my bags out in the mean-time? While this makes sense in the tunnel vision, chances are the congestion was built up as a result of such cumulative thoughts across pax!

If the issue is not too old, I would love to hear from the author.

Joe Bols

You stop to get your fucking back and delaying my evacuating the aircraft I will knock you the fuck out and step over your entitled, unconscious body on my way to the emergency exit. End of.

Malcolm Cumming

Hey, calm down Joe. Hope I don’t get seated next to you next time. At least you can’t concealed-carry on aircraft.

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