Five things your airline doesn't say in the safety demonstration

By John Walton, January 30 2013
Five things your airline doesn't say in the safety demonstration

It's easy to zone out during the safety announcement — especially if you're a very frequent flyer. But although you've heard most of it before, there's some things you won't ever hear, among them some interesting and slightly frightening bits of information.

George Hobica from airfarewatchdog attended BA's Flight Safety Awareness Course and picked up a handful of gems, including the reasons behind some of the well-established rules.

1. You have 15 seconds to fit your own mask first

Emergency decompression on the plane? If the air gets sucked out, you have roughly 15 seconds before you start going loopy from lack of oxygen. That's why you're always told to fit your own oxygen mask before helping those around you. 

2. Brace with your stronger hand closer to your head

When you brace with your hands over the back of your head, it's to to protect your noggin from anything falling. Your weaker hand will provide some protection for your stronger hand — which, fatalistically speaking, you need more..

3. Check that nobody's nicked your life jacket...

Do a quick check for the location of that red tab when you sit down, and make sure there's a life jacket there too — you'd be shocked at how many people filch a yellow souvenir every day.

"People take those life jackets, located under or between your seat, as souvenirs" Hobica writes "It’s a vile and punishable offense, and while airlines do check each seat at the start of every day, a plane could make several trips in a day, during any one of which a passenger could steal a life vest."

4. ...but most passengers will forget them anyway

Remember that US Airways plane that famously landed on the Hudson River in New York? Even then, only a few passengers actually put on their life jackets. Go figure!

5. Can you lift a 20 kg overwing door?

That's about how much the exit row doors weigh on certain kinds of plane. You'll need to activate the latch mechanism, lift the doors and chuck them out of the plane.

Think about that the next time the airline seats someone less than burly in the exit row next to you!

Read more: airfarewatchdog

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John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

01 Jan 1970

Total posts 0

The abuse of exit row seats has always annoyed me. While I enjoy the extra legroom of the exit row, I actually bother to study carefully what I would need to do in the case of an emergency, including the weight of the door if I have to lift it (newer models have a push out door that alleviates that need).  It makes me very angry when I see an exit row seat occupied by someone who can't lift their own 7kg bags into the overhead compartment and yet reckon they can lift and toss out a 20kg door out of the plane.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 171

Great article, and I'll remember to brace myself with my stronger hand nearest my head as the plane plummets at the speed of sound to the earth. I think I prefer being oblivious.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

I checked the lifejacket one day when on a 767 and found an empty container. I told the flight attendant and she said 'it's ok we have some spares' when I asked if she was going to replace it now before the flight she looked at me with a look of frustration that I might want one near me.

23 Dec 2011

Total posts 6

The life jackets won't save you. They are provided to make it easier for rescuers to recover bodies and bring closure to families. Life jackets will keep bodies afloat and their bright colours make them more visible. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 236

Thanks Elephant ;-(

Good point Rickylee.... I also get annoyed when they serve people at exits alcohol. Being tipsy and responsible for the safe exit of 100 people. Not a good mix.




11 Sep 2012

Total posts 20

If I remeber correctly when the Ethiopian Airlines 767 was hijacked and ditched in the water due to fuel starvation a big killer was people inflating their life jackets before they left the aircraft. As water poured in they were unable to get underwater to get out and must have been in too much shock to remove their life jackets. It would scary to think how many people would inflate them if told to don them in a potential emergency.

01 Jan 1970

Total posts 0

What is worse is the potential for bottlenecking ... if they can't get out because their life jacket is inflated, the people behind them are also likely to die because they are blocked.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 316

I find it strange that safety briefings still start with how to buckle up a seat belt and how to unbuckle it.  Given that seat belts in cars are almost universal, it seems unnecessary.  Or is it to cater for the small minority of Americans and some other countries who have never used a car seat belt?

01 Jan 1970

Total posts 0

It is a legal requirement in Australia and most countries.  For example, Civil Aviation Order 20.11, paragraph 14.1 prescribes smoking, smoking in toilets, use and adjustment of seat belts, location of emergency exits, use of oxygen where applicable, use of floatation devices where applicable, stowage of hand luggage and the presence of special survival equipment onboard.  Paragraph 14.2 adds for most passenger flights briefings about life jackets and life rafts.

01 Feb 2013

Total posts 1

Indeed it may seem strange, but as you have said we all have seatbelts in cars. Learnings from previous incidents have shown that passengers may have a tendency to revert to undoing their seatbelt in a way similar to your car (press button-like buckle release) and not by lifting the buckle clasp therefore possibly causing a delay in evacuating.  It may seem strange but the little reminder in the demo is there for a reason.

05 Feb 2018

Total posts 1

Carry on luggage seems to be increasing. Low cost carriers with their stringent check baggage constraints means people are looking to carry more on board the AC. Airlines promote First and Business class travel with greater carry on so the effect is more carry on luggage. I agree that OH bin locks may create a bigger headache as well.

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