British Airways is about to take those tedious and often-ignored pre-flight safety demonstrations to a whole new level, with an intensive day-long course on how to survive a plane crash.
Yes, you read that correctly. This in-depth training goes way beyond fastening your seat belt (low and tight) and knowing the location of the nearest exit (which could be behind you).
Members of BA's Executive Club frequent flyer programme will be able to pay £125 ($200), or trade in a batch of their frequent flyer points, for a spot in the course, which is held inside mock-ups of Boeing and Airbus cabins, including a full-motion Boeing 737 simulator.
It sounds Pythonesque that an airline would be actively promoting crash training, but BA says the course is ideal for nervous flyers to feel better prepared, as well as anyone who wants the best chance of surviving a real emergency.
Most people freeze when an emergency starts unfolding, BA instructor Geof Fearon told the Wall Street Journal. "The ones who think about what they'd do are the ones who get out first."
The course was actually created five years ago at the request of oil giant BP, which has so many of its staff travelling at any one time that it felt it could mitigate risks with additional aircraft safety training.
The workshop aims to dispel myths about the purpose of the brace position, gives people a chance to practice sliding down inflatable aircraft escape slides and put on and wear the auto-inflating life-jackets.
It's not just mid-air emergencies that the airline is training people for, either. After a 737 hit another plane on the tarmac at Los Angeles International airport in 1991, 10 passengers tragically died of smoke inhalation as they struggled to open a heavy aircraft door.
Part of the course is experiencing being in a smoke-filled, heated chamber, to make people realise how quickly they will become disoriented unless they drop to the floor and act quickly.
According to BA, attendees of the "Flight Safety Awareness Course" get the following:
- Simulated flight on a full motion Boeing 737 cabin simulator, leading to an emergency landing and full aircraft evacuation from a smoke-filled environment
- Full exercise debrief on the simulator with safety advice and techniques for decompression, emergency landing, aircraft evacuation and landing on water (ditching)
- Practical door and overwing exit operation on a Boeing 737
- Emergency evacuation slide descents from an Airbus A320
- Smoke filled cabin training in a fire training cabin simulator, with information relevant to both aircraft and hotel environments.
The course is only being run in the UK, so Australians would need to take up the opportunity while on a trip abroad... it's certainly not your average tourist activity!
Qantas has flagged its intention to give its top frequent flyers money-can't-buy experiences like taking a training session in a flight simulator as part of its forthcoming Platinum One Frequent Flyer tier, but hasn't gone as far as mooting crash safety sessions.