The procedure we all completely ignore before soaring to 30,000 feet
Airlines sure have a lot of faith in the average person’s ability to stay calm under stress.
Let’s say, for the sake of this essay, that you care enough about safety to actually pay close attention while the head flight attendant recites the plane’s emergency procedures.
“Exits are located here and here,” s/he says, pointing to the left and right sides of the craft.
“In the event that the cabin loses air pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Be sure to put your mask on first before helping others with theirs.”
OK, that’s reasonable enough so far. I think I can recall where those emergency exits are, and if a mask descends directly within my line of vision, I believe I can figure out what to do with it.
“Your flotation device may be located in an overhead bin, under your seat, or in the seat in front of you.”
You’ve lost me there…Let’s imagine this put into practice. The plane is spiraling out of control, passengers are screaming in terror, newspapers and pretzels are hurling through the air, and you have mere seconds to determine where – of these multiple hiding places – the device that’s going to save your life is located.
Try not to panic, I’ll say to myself. One thing at a time. Take that doodad hanging in front of your face and pull the strap over the back of your head. Um – how exactly am I supposed to find my flotation device while on a leash? Flail hands around underneath seat. Nothing there except for someone’s else’s briefcase and a lost gumball. Try to pry off my seat cushion in case that’s the flotation device. Nope – it won’t come off no matter how hard I try to rip it apart. Stretch the oxygen mask’s cord to its limit, practically choking myself, to shove suitcases and coats aside searching the overhead bin for a flotation device. Nope – nothing lifesaving in there.
My stomach lurching as the plane is rapidly losing altitude, debris launching from all directions throughout the cabin, passengers in a state of shock, and here I am tied in place by this face mask, just hoping with all my might that of all the yellow, orange, and blue objects I’ve scrambled to hang around my neck and waist, at least one of them is designed to inflate and keep me alive in the event of a water evacuation.
Well, at least I got to enjoy Ryan Reynold’s latest caper on the in-flight entertainment system and ate peanuts with wild abandon before meeting my untimely end.