Passengers taking bags off during emergency = UNSAFE. Might FAA PSAs help change behavior?

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The website appropriately identifies its positioning in the aviation web sphere with the following slogan: “Where air transportation meets passenger experience.” In a recent posting she made the important observation that passengers are ignoring the safety warnings to take NOTHING with them as they exit from the aircraft in emergency situations. She cites recent examples of passengers walking away from burning aircraft with one or more carry-on items (wheeled suitcases, briefcases, large bags and the like).

She concludes with the provocative question: What will it take for the industry to act?”

Her review explains that there were reports of passengers’ opening overhead bins to retrieve their large luggage. She recites fairly standard airline safety briefings (“Leave your belongings! Stay low! Sit and slide!”) and reminds that, as the cabin is evacuated, that same admonition is repeated. These written and oral warnings point out that these additional objects are likely to become dangerous projectiles as they leave the plane—

  • injuring yourself and others sliding down the ramp,
  • blocking the door and/or the end of the emergency slide and
  • ripping the slide which allows all to get away from the plane.


Finally the Runway Girl’s analysis discounts that theory blaming language barriers may be the problem.

Her articulate position was reinforced by Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, who agreed that passengers should heed the commands of flight attendants during an emergency — and should leave their bags on the plane.“We expect the [National Transportation Safety Board] investigation will show that the bags slowed the evacuation and may even have caused some of the injuries,” Nelson said in a statement.

One option might be to provide greater space on the safety briefing card which is located in the seat back pouch.


This document uses pictures so all should understand. The small drawing might deserve more space.

Perhaps, this is the sort of safety message which may merit Public Service Announcements. NHTSA, in cooperation with the Ad Council, tries to reinforce certain safety behaviors, like “no texting and driving,” “click it or ticket” and “friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” This type of advertising campaigns must be effective; for NHTSA has been sponsoring them for years and the level of appearances frequently on all media is high.


Maybe A4A, IATA and the FAA could jointly design and place advertisements, The PSAs could remind, on TV and radio plus print versions, their passengers of this key safety behavior. The point should be that their own lives and the lives of their fellow passengers are more important than these dangerous possessions.

Many consumers might be more likely to retain this message by the repetition of pointed commercials and safety might well be served.


ARTICLE: Incidents reveal crucial need for passengers to leave bags behind

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1 Comment on "Passengers taking bags off during emergency = UNSAFE. Might FAA PSAs help change behavior?"

  1. Hero pilot slams passengers for grabbing luggage as they fled burning BA jet

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