A couple of days ago, Emirates had one of their planes on fire, an event where luckily all the passengers were evacuated, but one firefighter died in the incident. One of these passengers had the time to film this video on his phone, and somehow while the others who were trying to tag along an overhead bag were at fault, I haven’t heard criticism for this guy.
Unfortunately, it did not end there. Some airline crew at another airline made a dig at the passengers, and it was not funny. Full of racist slander, such as fucking rats and untamable bunch. Click on the picture if you want a detailed look.
I’m getting real tired of crew giving the EK521 incident in Dubai a racist and an uncouth twist. After all it’s not the first time that passengers on board an aircraft have behaved irrationally in a crisis situation.
Read this US Airways excerpt published in The Guardian:
The plane hit the water and Sanderson, sitting in 15-A, smacked his head on the seat in front of him. He lifted it to see “controlled chaos” unfolding around him.
“People started running up and down aisles. People were yelling and pushing,” Sanderson said. As the 40-degree river water sloshed through the fuselage, some passengers clambered over seats – ignoring calls to “Calm down!”
One woman wouldn’t get off without her luggage and had to be shoved through the door, Sanderson said. He went back and retrieved her purse to calm her.
Or, remember the British Airways plane last year which caught fire in Las Vegas, another of the western world, which had passengers leaving the plane with their bags. Have a look here.
My past career in the airline industry and my own experience of dealing with unexpected situations prompted me to share my point of view on human behavior in these circumstances that none of ever dream of facing. As an ex- airline employee, I can tell you that that we are trained to deal with situations that passengers can only think about. Handling flight disruptions, medical emergencies, terror threats, dealing with suspicious objects, the list is long. Though there is one thing that is drilled in our brains “Keep Calm” and that comes with patience and practice. So every time the lady at the check-in is polite to you even though you are having an argument about your excess baggage that you want to carry for free; and the hostess on the airplane reminds you for the tenth time to push your seat back upright before landing and you choose to ignore her, they are all practicing patience.
In my own career I have dealt with a suspected package on a B-777 aircraft that was ready to board with 200+ passengers, I was all alone for almost 20 minutes with that black package until the cops took charge. Death of a passenger on board where I had to mask my own sentiments and follow processes in a professional manner. I did break down once I was back home after a 22-hour long work shift. And denying boarding to a passenger who later was confirmed by authorities to be of suspect nature. And I tell you that you would have never seen a sweat trickle down my face in any of these situations because I was trained to keep calm and not give into the emotions. Like any other airline crew, I would assess the present situation, think about the future, and immediately start acting towards a resolution. There is no time to be pessimistic and think about the past.
However, this morning I was thinking to myself would I have behaved the same if I was a passenger on board. Perhaps not and here’s why. As a passenger I am not in the frame of mind to deal with an air crash. I don’t board flights ever so often like crew do. Neither am I trained to deal with emergency situations. Yes, the crew does explain me theoretically how to open the emergency exit door but can I really open it in times of need. Maybe not! I perhaps would want to grab my passport, my only piece of identity in a foreign land and run for my life.
Years ago, there was hoax gun firing heard outside an airport and I was working in the terminal building dealing with a hundreds of passengers. The minute we heard people screaming outside we shouted for everyone to duck down and lie still on the floor. A lady of non-Indian origin ran towards a moving baggage belt and sat on it thinking she would be safer arriving where the bags are stowed on the tarmac. Little did she realize that she will be offloaded in the out of gauge section.
The point is that people irrespective of caste, creed and culture behave irrationally in tough situations. Some freeze, some go numb, some sit and pray though each one thinks about the future, re-assures himself that this just a passing nightmare and acts for the time when things are going to be fine.
So stop over analyzing because you were not in that plane that went up in flames, cut the drama because there is no evidence that you will be as cool as a cucumber when you face a similar situation and do away with the racist retort because above is an example of how Americans and Indians behaved pretty much the same when caught in similar situations.
Let us just thank God that every single person on that aircraft is seeing the daylight today. And pray for the departed soul of the firefighter who was not so lucky.
While I don’t advocate you run with your bags in an emergency situation, I also don’t advocate you call another person names just because he is not as privileged as you are perhaps.