Picture this – you are quietly enjoying your flight home after a long vacation. The flight starts its descent and you think that’s great – finished my book just in time. Now I will start to get myself organised, put the kobo back in my bag and then
Aircraft emergency. The pilot comes on and says that he is going to have to do an emergency landing due to ….. I don’t know …. I am making this up as I go along. The point is that this is an emergency landing and although you have always diligently listened to the pre-flight speech from the flight attendant you are now totally on edge and listening very hard to any instruction coming your way.
Finally the flight lands bumpy but safe … the lights go off in the aircraft and those little indicator lights along the passage light up. Oh my god – so they were right – they do have a purpose. Great. The flight attendant is shouting to everyone to evacuate as the emergency slides have been deployed. You struggle out of your seat kicking aside your high heels because that’s the drill and you listened. Everyone is struggling to get into the aisle to get off the plane out of the nearest exit.
The whole line up of people is held up because some idiot is struggling to get his bag out of the overhead bin.
Can you imagine? This is not made up but is exactly what has happened a couple of times in emergency landings – most recently with an Aeroflot flight that landed on fire. Many people were trapped on board the burning aircraft while some doofus (I am going to call him Mr Doofus) decided he had to get his bag from the overhead bin.
Have I put you off flying altogether? Sorry – but it is something that the FAA is looking at in detail and they are running tests with real people to see how long it takes to evacuate a plane. The ideal is 90 seconds. The problem is that critics of the testing say that the volunteers they used are all young, skinny and fit which really does not represent the typical traveller these days. The test was run because some people are saying that the smaller seats on aircraft make it more difficult for emergency evacuation. Maybe it is the smaller brains in some people who insist on grabbing their hand luggage when they evacuate.
There is no doubt that seats on planes have become smaller over the years shrinking from a pitch of 34 inches down to even 28 or 29 on some aircraft. The width has also shrunk from 18.5 inches to 17 inches. Just ask any woman if she would like to lose 1.5 inches off her hips and I will bet she will say Yes Please!
People are getting bigger and seats are getting smaller – but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Spirit Airlines has designed a new seat that although only offering a 30 inch pitch it will feel like more due to its design. So that is a good thing. So maybe with technology the airlines can still offer smaller seats but new designs will give us more leg room. Sadly technology won’t be able to help Mr Doofus or his friends understand an emergency.