Escaping safely

Writing this post carries the risk that readers will come to believe that I am obsessed by airline safety.  I like to view it as a healthy interest, but I suppose some may feel I am taking it too far.

Those who have flown will know that if the flight goes badly (but not catastrophically so) one may be able to exit the aircraft in an emergency.  Finally, the emergency, floor-level lighting will come into its own and my detailed study of the door mechanisms and locations will be vindicated.  It is at this time that ladies must remove any high-heeled shoes – we gentleman, of course, can be trusted to use an escape slide safely while wearing stilettos (or at least this is my inference from the safety announcements).  We are also told not to take anything with us – though generally no announcement is made as to specific items we should leave behind.  This is where the safety card (usually ensconced in the seat pocket in front of you) comes into its own.

On easyJet, you are enjoined not to take your tablet computer or your mobile phone with you.  Whilst the former may make some sense, the latter was mystifying.  Do we really have to rifle through our pockets during an emergency and discard our mobile phones?       I would have thought they might have some utility after exiting the aircraft – possessing as they do GPS and the potential to call for help (they’d certainly beat a tiny light and a whistle which is all the airline offers).

However, easyJet appear the very model of rationality when compared to FlyBe.  Their safety card requires you to remove all glasses and dentures before attempting to exit a distressed aircraft.  How does being unable to see where you are going help one escape?  Has an escape slide really been torn by a set of false teeth?  Particularly one being worn at the time?  I can imagine the floor of an aircraft loaded with pensioners being buried beneath great drifts of specs and teeth following an emergency landing.  Does the announcement “Brace! Brace! Brace!” have nothing to do with the position to adopt (head twixt knees and against the seat-back in from of you) but is in fact a reminder to those with straighteners applied to their uneven teeth to remove these dental appliances now?  I guess we should be grateful that those relying on larger prostheses are allowed to retain them – or would the flight crew (who are there for our safety, apparently) insist that they also be removed if the balloon were to go up (and the plane down)?

I guess Google Glass – having much in common with both glasses and a mobile phone – would be doomed to be left behind with both airlines.  Otherwise, when choosing an airline you may wish to look beyond price and customer service to what you may be forced to abandon in the case of an emergency – do BA require you to leave any offspring?  Or Cathay Pacific fear the damage a loose spouse could cause to the slides?  We – the flying public – have a right to know!


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