35% of Passengers Say They Would Grab Their Bags in an Emergency
Flight attendants and aviation officials repeatedly warn passengers to leave their carry-on bags behind in the event of an emergency. Bags can slow down an evacuation, and while passengers fiddle with overhead bins, fellow flyers can be left in harm's way.
Still, it happens time and time again: Passengers grab for their luggage in an urgent evacuation. Now, a new survey shows that 35% of passengers say they would take their luggage off a plane in an emergency situation — even if they are specifically told not to by the flight crew.
In an airplane emergency evacuation, the crew only has 90 seconds to get everyone off the aircraft unscathed. In a true evacuation, stopping for a bag could be the difference between life and death. After an investigation of a 2016 aircraft fire at Chicago O'Hare (ORD) in which passengers stopping for bags hampered the plane's evacuation, the US National Transportation Safety Board said in March that it was in favor of fining passengers who bring their luggage with them in the event of an emergency evacuation.
The new passenger survey, done by UK company ComRes for the Royal Aeronautical Society, found that if the emergency posed an immediate threat to passengers, 61% of flyers wouldn't take anything with them but the contents of their pockets, while 23% said they would take valuables within easy reach and 6% would take all of their valuables with them.
Meanwhile, if the situation did not pose an immediate threat to passengers, 75% of respondents in the study said they would take at least some of their belongings with them.
Bringing baggage in an evacuation can not only risk the lives of passengers and crew, but it can also damage the inflatable evacuation slides on an aircraft. The Royal Aeronautical Society report mentioned one dramatic example at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) in 2008 when a passenger climbed back up an emergency slide on a Boeing 777 to retrieve his luggage after it crash-landed upon arrival from China.
H/T: The Daily Mail