Patrick Smith was appalled by the British Airways incident last week. Not as much by the plane catching fire as by idiot passengers evacuating with their luggage:
Aboard British Airways flight 2276, the evacuation process may have seemed orderly and calm. How would things have unfolded, though, had a fuel tank exploded, or had the smoke and fire suddenly spread inside the plane? Now people are screaming. There’s a mad rush for the exits, but the aisle is clogged with suitcases dropped by panicked passengers. Your computer, your Kindle, your electric toothbrush, your underwear and your Sudoku books — all of those things can be replaced and aren’t worth risking your life over — not to mention the lives of the passengers behind you, who can’t get to the door because your 26-inch Tumi is in the way.
Perhaps most reckless of all is taking a bag down one of the inflatable escape slides. You can’t always see it in videos or photos, but those slides are extremely steep. They are not designed with convenience — or fun — in mind. They are designed for no other purpose than to empty a plane of its occupants as rapidly as possible. You’ll be coming down from over two stories high in the case of a widebody jet, at a very rapid clip, with others doing the same in front of you and right behind you. Even without bags people are often injured going down the slides. This is expected. Add carry-ons to the mix and somebody is liable to be killed, smacked on the head by your suitcase or baby stroller.
As the CNN story points out, "[a] majority of the injuries came as passengers slid down the inflatable chutes to evacuate the Boeing 777, Clark County Fire Department Deputy Chief Jon Klassen said."
So if you're ever in the unfortunate position of having to leave a plane whose right engine has disassembled itself during takeoff, leave your crap behind.