maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question.

W.I.N. Wednesday: Pay Attention. Please.

This is a busy time of year for air travel. If you are traveling on a commercial airline to visit family or to head to a warm destination to get away from the cold and snow here are some things you need to pay attention to.

Whether you fly once in your life, once a year or once a week pay attention to the safety briefing. Research shows that people who stop talking with the person beside them, put down their book, stop watching the movie on their iPad and actually pay attention to the safety briefing every time they fly perform better in the case of an emergency.

Pay attention to where the emergency exits are and mentally rehearse how many seats you need to touch going forward and backward to get to the closest emergency exit. In a crash you may find the cabin of the plane in complete darkness and if you have not counted rows you will have no idea where the closest exits are. On a flight this year a flight attendant saw me counting rows and she came over after the safety briefing and shared a story a passenger on a flight two weeks prior had told her.  He had been on a plane that crashed. He said, “I never counted seats and the plane was in complete darkness following the crash. I had no idea where the closest exit was felt panic setting in. I did manage to get off safely and that is the last time I will ever get on a plane without counting seats.”

Pay attention to the demonstration explaining that in the event of a sudden change of cabin pressure oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling compartments above you. After placing the mask on and tightening by pulling on the straps, you need to tug on the tubing to start the flow of oxygen. Jackie Pflug shared the story of being on a plane that was hijacked. During the gunfight between the Egyptian Air Marshals and the hijackers, which the Air Marshals lost, the skin of the aircraft was punctured by a number of bullets. The plane began to plummet and lose cabin pressure. The oxygen masks dropped down and Jackie puts hers on. She said she was suffocating as she was not getting any oxygen. The man beside her reached up and pulled on her tubing to start the flow of oxygen. Jackie said prior to that flight she never paid attention to the safety briefings.

Pay attention to the explanation that in the event of a water landing regarding whether there are inflatable life jackets on board or whether you need to use the seat cushion as a personal flotation device. If there are life jackets make sure you know where yours is located and mentally rehearse accessing it (some are under your seat, some are under the centre console). For all the skeptics who believe a water landing is a crash where everyone is going to die, then read the story of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles executed a controlled water landing on the Hudson River and everyone got off that plane alive.

Pay attention to the seatbelt demonstration, especially the part about how to undo the seatbelt. I know, you fasten and undo your seatbelt in your car every day. You know how to undo a seatbelt. Yes you do. But, the seatbelt on a plane has a lever, not a button to undo it. It is easy to undo, when you know how, when there is not the stress of an emergency. What about when your life, or the lives of others depends on it? I was on a flight recently where a young woman who looked to be late 20’s or early 30’s was travelling with a friend. It was her first ever flight. During the safety briefing the two of them were busy talking and not paying attention. About 30 minutes into the flight she decided she wanted to take her jacket off. She couldn’t figure out how to undo the seatbelt. After about 5 minutes of trying she gave up and managed to shrug her way out of her jacket with the seatbelt still done up. About 5 minutes before the plane landed she finally asked her friend how to undo the seatbelt. Funny story, unless there had been an emergency, in which case she may have cost herself and other passengers their lives.

Pay attention to your backpack and bags as you go down the aisle to your seat. People should not have to protect their faces from your bags as you struggle to get down the aisle.

Pay attention to your seat number before you get on the plane and when you get into your seat. Know where you are sitting and make sure to sit in your assigned seat.

Pay attention to the information the gate agent announces regarding regular size roller boards not fitting in the overhead bins. Getting a green tag and gate checking your bag will prevent a lot of hassles on the plane when you bag does not fit into the overhead bins.

Pay attention to the restrictions on how many items you can take onto a plane. Two means two. Not two plus a suit bag, and a big shopping bag, and, well you get the point.

Pay attention to the advice to get to the airport At Least two hours before your flight.

Pay attention to the monitors throughout the airport in case your gate changes.

Pay attention to the announcements in the boarding area in case your gate changes. 

What’s Important Now? Pay Attention. Please.

Take care.

Brian Willis



Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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