Are Airlines Doing Enough To Stop Passengers Evacuating With Luggage?

In the last six months, Airlines have taken extra steps to address the problem of passengers stopping to take hand luggage with them as they evacuate a plane. But with recent photos showing passengers continuing to take hang luggage when evacuating a plane, are airlines doing enough?

Are Airlines Doing Enough To Stop Passengers Evacuating With Luggage?
Are airlines doing enough to education  Source: Sourav Mishra via Pexels

Why are passengers forbidden to remove luggage?

Earlier this year, a Russian Aeroflot aircraft crashed on the runway in Moscow. Fuel and sparks mixed causing a fire in the tail. Passengers evacuating from the front of the aircraft took the time to open the bins and remove their luggage, some of which was rather large and bulky. This caused passengers in the back of the plane to become trapped, potentially increasing the death toll unnecessarily.

Hence, the very idea of passengers accessing luggage during an evacuation is a very serious issue. Hand luggage can also cause tears and rips to the evacuation slides and rafts which, if unusable, could cost many more lives.

A recent incident involving a Cayman Airways 737-300 led to an emergency landing and the entire aircraft being evacuated via slides. Passengers are seen carrying luggage away from the plane which, fortunately, was not on fire. The fact remains, however, that the plane was not evacuated as quickly as it could have been because passengers took the time to bring luggage.

What are airlines doing so far?

Japan Airlines has been one of the first airlines to actually include a segment on their onboard safety video highlighting the dangers of stopping to carry baggage. It is rather graphic and shows exactly what can happen during an evacuation.

Are Airlines Doing Enough To Stop Passengers Evacuating With Luggage?
Japan Airlines features rather graphic images of passengers panicking during an emergency. Photo: Japan Airlines

On a recent Brussels Airlines flight, the cabin crew spoke directly about hand luggage multiple times during the in-person safety briefing.

What could airlines do?

But is this enough? As we mentioned with the Cayman Airways flight, passengers seem to still not have learned to follow instructions. So what can airlines do to avoid this problem?

Perhaps passengers can better understand the consequences of their actions, such as fines or even manslaughter charges, if they are proven to be the cause of an evacuation delay.

One member of the Simple Flying team, Mark Finlay, suggests “How about locking the overhead bins once the flight takes off and then unlocking them at the gate on arrival? I know people need to get things from their bag, but if they knew once the plane took off it wasn’t possible they could sort themselves out beforehand.”

What do you think? Are airlines doing enough? Or should they take more drastic action to prevent passengers from removing hand luggage? Let us know in the comments.