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How to Get Airplane Evacuees to Leave Their Stuff Behind

When an airplane must be evacuated in a hurry, any small delay can endanger the entire group of passengers. An Emirates Airline jet crash landed in Dubai last week, and although all passengers were able to get out (one firefighter died in the incident), witnesses say the evacuation took longer than it should have because passengers retrieved their luggage from the overhead bins. Ed Galea of London's Greenwich University suggests locking the overhead bins during takeoff, landing, and whenever the seatbelt light is on. Devin Liddell of the consulting firm Teague has a different idea.

"To have far fewer bags in the cabin in the first place."

When Teague researchers recently studied the attitudes of passengers towards their luggage, they discovered that their main fear was finding no room for their bag in the overhead locker. That is why, Liddell notes, whenever any announcement is made about boarding - even if only to say that the first to board will be those with young children - everyone at the gate stands and starts inching forwards.

However, on probing further, the researchers discovered that passengers would be happy to part with their bags if there was no fee for putting them in the hold, and if they could be sure they would not get lost in transit.

Airlines can encourage checked luggage by reducing or eliminating fees, and can encourage gate-checking by reducing the size of overhead bins. Studies show that fewer bags in the cabin will save passengers more time than skipping the baggage claim- and is certainly safer in the event of an emergency. Meanwhile, passengers should be encouraged to keep their passport, phone, credit card, and medicine in their clothing instead of carryon luggage. In the event of an emergency, you can say goodbye to anything else. -via Metafilter


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"the researchers discovered that passengers would be happy to part with their bags if there was no fee for putting them in the hold, and if they could be sure they would not get lost in transit."

Um, I'm going to file this under the No-Shit-Sherlock category.
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How about enforcing existing rules? I travel mostly with a carry on bag that complies with size and weight regulations. I have my wallet, keys, passport and money in a portable folio that I keep with me on the flight, and can be easily and quickly grabbed in the event of an emergency. I see people get on board with more than they are supposed to bring, and take up 2 people's space in overhead compartment. FAs often don't say anything or enforce the rules so it becomes a competition to get on board first so you don't get stuck putting your carry on several rows behind you. And checking in bags is precisely what I am trying to avoid. Friends recently had their luggage delayed by 2 days because the airline somehow managed to put it on the wrong plane. And they were flying transpacific first class! There is no guarantee the airline can avoid baggage lost or mistake so those who can carry on should be able to do so.
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I completely don't buy the claim that "fewer bags in the cabin will save passengers more time than skipping the baggage claim". Sometimes the line to check bags is short, sometimes it's long. But the wait for the first bag to start coming out is always about 30 minutes, and you usually add much more time until your bag finally comes around. It's still a nice option to have, so you can carry a non-trivial amount of toothpaste, shampoo, etc, as well as nail clippers, pocket knives, etc.
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