10 Airline Safety
Savage, Author of The Safe Travel Book
crowded terminals or flights, try to find a buddy in line or in the seat
next to you if traveling alone, so that you are watching his or her bags
at the counter or on board and he or she is watching yours.
putting your carry on baggage through the x-ray belt, put your laptop
last so that it comes out behind your other luggage, and with luck,
about the same time you are cleared to pick it up-or, better yet, have a
buddy that has cleared security keep an eye on your laptop until you
have cleared security.
your luggage in the overhead bin across the aisle from you so that you
can see that no one is opening your luggage during the flight. Overhead
storage bins may not be able to hold very heavy objects during
turbulence, so if you or another passenger is having trouble lifting an
article into the bin, have it stored elsewhere.
Dress for comfort and safety-best protection from heat and fire is
natural fiber (cotton, denim, leather, wool) so avoid synthetics and
bear in mind that the safety slide is pretty rough material and the end
has strips of Velcro, so a skirt and panties will not survive the trip
down-women should use natural fiber slacks.
safest seating is on the exit aisle in the back of the airplane-usually
farthest from impact and farthest from explosive fuel.
time for greatest concern is during take-off and landing so nonstop
flights reduce exposure to these most accident-prone phases of flight.
You should have an evacuation plan in mind-memorize how many rows to
each exit point. Choose larger aircraft whenever possible, as they
provide a better opportunity for passenger survival. Planes with more
than 30 passenger seats are designed and certified under the strictest
Always carry a penlight flashlight for use in an emergency when no other
source of light may be available. Follow directions from the flight crew
and exit the aircraft as quickly as possible.
you are traveling over water, make sure you know how to locate and don
your life jacket or floatation device. The primary reason flight
attendants are on an aircraft is for safety, so if one of them asks you
to do something like fasten your seat belts, do it-ask questions
Carry your passport even on domestic flights. During a crisis, U.S.
flights may be diverted to Mexican or Canadian airports and having a
passport will facilitate the border crossing.
Don't drink too much alcohol! The atmosphere in an airliner cabin is
pressurized to about the same altitude as Denver, so any alcohol you
consume will affect you more than at sea level. Moderation is a good
policy at any altitude. Drinking non-caffeinated products is a good
practice as well.
Some aspects of the check in and security screening process are pretty
routine and well known, but travelers often overlook some obvious points
such as the following:
- Do not lock your bags because the TSA (Transportation and Safety
Administration) may have to open your bag for inspection. Refer to the
TSA for updates on restrictions (http://www.tsa.dot.gov).
- Limitations on carry-on items are now strictly enforced to one
carry-on item and one personal item, such as a laptop, handbag, or
briefcase, and restrictions should be observed.
- A packing list will assure you of what is missing after an
inspection-and don't pack anything that may potentially cause you
- For ease of clearing security, limit the amount of metal on your
person and put all metal objects-watch, pens, coins, keys, cell
phone-in a zip lock bag stowed in your carry on luggage pocket. That
leaves only a belt buckle and shoes with metal to be removed.
- If you have a complaint about TSA's clearance process, do not raise it
until you have already cleared security, then get the proper forms to
file (otherwise you will be a long time being cleared, if at all).
- International trips require a higher standard of care and planning.
Different screening processes may be used in other countries and this
and other security issues should be researched in advance.
general safety checklist includes many of the standard provisions and is
a good review:
- Wear a safety strap for eyeglasses and bring an extra pair just in
case they are broken, lost or stolen.
- Always carry your International Certificate of Vaccination-ICV (yellow
book) so that medical personnel can rule out certain diseases, if you
become ill. Your ICV will contain all recent vaccinations for travel
as well as have sections to document any chronic medical conditions,
blood type, allergies, and eyeglass prescription.
- It is always a good idea to list your blood type on your passport and
to make photocopies of your passport and visa.
- Stow passports & visas independently of your originals (carry two
extra passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen).
- I always carry an emergency escape smoke hood as well. A smoke hood
will give you extra time to breathe filtered air during an escape from
a smoke filled cabin.
Bon voyage and safe
Savage is Director of Security for Passport Health and this article is
reprinted with permission from Passport Health.