Over a third of British airline passengers would attempt to save their bags during an emergency evacuation - even if they faced immediate danger, a recent survey has shown. The study, carried out by ComRes for the Royal Aeronautical Society, also found that 35 percent would still try to grab their bags even if they were expressly told not to do so. The organization says that the study mirrors current trends of passengers taking their bags during emergency evacuations.
The study surveyed over 2,000 British adults and found that in emergency situations where there was an immediate threat to the safety of passengers, the majority — 61 percent of UK passengers — would leave their belongings behind. Twenty-three percent said they would only take the valuables within reach and six percent would take all valuables, while six percent would take everything, regardless of value.
In evacuations that posed no immediate threat to passengers, 75 percent of passengers said they would try to take some of their belongings, while 29 percent said they would take everything, including cabin luggage. However, 31 percent said they would take only valuables within reach. Finally, only 20 percent would take nothing other than the contents of their pockets.
Airlines ask passengers to leave all their belongings behind during emergency evacuations to avoid putting passengers and crew at risk of injury or even death by slowing or impeding the evacuation, injuring passengers with luggage or even perforating evacuation slides.
In 2008, a passenger on a British Airways Boeing 777-200 flying from Beijing to Heathrow returned to the aircraft via the emergency slide to grab his belongings after the plane crashed on the final approach. Earlier this year, the US National Transportation Safety Board reported that during four recent evacuations, exits were impeded by travelers grabbing their carry-on luggage. The head of the NTSB commented that perhaps “fines might make people worry less about their Gucci luggage.”
In 2015, passengers were shown leaving a British Airways airplane that was engulfed in flames at Las Vegas McCarran Airport carrying bags and cases. Terry Buckland, chairman of the Royal Aeronautical Society Flight operations group, said, “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.”
“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,” he added.
“Aviation authorities and operators should consider if current requirements, as well as industry practices, support the most rapid and safest emergency evacuations. Where it is identified that there are shortfalls or potential improvements, Aviation Authorities should take the necessary actions. The concept of lockable overhead stowage bins should be considered by aviation authorities to see if this might help alleviate the issues raised in this survey.”