It is criminal
When I read of the criticism of passengers by the pilot of the British Airways Flight 2276 that caught fire just before take-off in Las Vegas, I pondered about the attachment of people to things.
This was a situation where everyone was in grave danger, a fully fuel laden flight with one of the engines on fire, one should not contemplate the consequence if they were not able to evacuate saving 172 souls.
Yet, in the emergency as observed in the picture that accompanied the news story, there is at least two passengers running from the flight with their bulky hand luggage.
What informs this attachment?
Their getting their so precious goods could have been the difference between life and death and there are too many stories through our humanity where the attachment to things has meant the end of all things for that person and a story of regret told by others.
Part of the aircraft safety instructions suggests, maybe advices, but should command that when an evacuation emergency is in process, we should abandon all whilst ladies take off their heeled shoes and make for the emergency exit in an orderly fashion.
Putting goods in or taking goods out of the overhead bins in an aircraft is rarely the smoothest activity. Even in premium class, the space is tight, people can hardly pass by when one is either loading or unloading the overhead bins. In an emergency, accessing the overhead bins is not only an impediment to safe evacuation, it presents a grave risk to passengers and crew alike.
How we endanger others
Only last week I was doing the mandatory health and safety course at work and I noticed that I risked prosecution if I ignore alarms for fire drills or real emergencies. The fire warden usually leaves the floor or building last, it means they are under obligation to ensure everyone has vacated the building or they and the organisation can be deemed negligent.
I think the same rule applies to disembarking an aircraft during an emergency, just as it is the age-old rule that the captain is the last to leave a ship in distress.
Yet, there is a psyche of acquisitive hedonism that seems to possess the mind of some who regardless of how their life is endangered cannot be separated from their things and I fear that things will be the end of them.
A prosecutory deterrent is necessary
However, the need for a lesson of deterrence must not be missed, the said people who ignored the basic safety rule by picking up their hand luggage must be sought after, prosecuted and have heavy penalties imposed on them. It might not moderate their behaviour to things, but it must signal a complete intolerance of people who selfishly impede an emergency evacuation exercise foolishly endangering themselves and most especially and unreasonably the lives of others.
Yes, they got away with their lives and their precious things, but this must never be the end of the matter and I hope it isn’t. They were lucky but they took unacceptable chances that could have led to grievous consequences and possible loss of life. I would hate to have people like this on my flight, anyone should.
If you feel you are boarding a plane with your most precious possessions and I think everyone is, it is our lives most of all, get insurance for your goods at the very least. If in an emergency we are to evacuate an aircraft leaving our things, with life all things lost can after a temporary setback be regained, a life lost, is a life lost, hopefully without the tag of foolishness.