Would You Grab Your Luggage In An Emergency Plane Evacuation?

PUBLISHED: May 19, 2019

Right before a plane takes off, there are a few things that cabin crews inform passengers: keep your seat belts on when the light is on, avoid smoking on the plane, how to use your oxygen mask if the cabin pressure drops, and in the event of an emergency evacuation, leave your luggage behind.


Despite these specific instructions, however, a new study by ComRes for the Royal Aeronautical Society found that over a third of airline passengers would try to retrieve their belongings during an emergency evacuation, even if they were in immediate danger.


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In an evacuation scenario with an immediate threat to passengers, more than 60 percent of passengers said they would take nothing with them except the content of their pockets, and 23 percent said they would take their valuables within easy reach.


During evacuations that did not involve immediate threat, 75 percent of passengers said they would retrieve some of their belonging.  29 percent said they would collect all their belongings, including cabin baggage.


The research conducted by Royal Aeronautical Society comes amid a report released earlier this year that found various operational issues associated with emergency evacuations.  One of its many conclusions was that cabin baggage policies being enforced combined with the actions of some passengers have the potential to hinder safe and rapid emergency evacuations.


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“The fact that so many passengers would decide to stop and collect some or all of their belongings during an emergency evacuation is a worrying finding,” said Terry Buckland FRAeS, chair of the Royal Aeronautical Society Flight Operations Group. “Airline operator safety briefings instruct passengers to leave all their belongings in the event of an emergency evacuation for clear safety reasons. Passengers will not have a full appreciation of the nature and seriousness of an emergency and should not be ignoring or questioning crew commands.”