What Flight Attendants Don’t Tell You In The Safety Demo

For regular flyers, it’s all too easy to zone out during the requisite flight attendant safety speech. But have you ever sat back in your cramped airline seat to wonder why it’s so important to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, or why airlines dim the lights upon landing? George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com helps us read between the lines — advice that is all the more relevant as we’re all thinking about Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash at San Francisco Airport over the weekend.

Own Mask First
Safety demos never go into why it’s so important to put on your own mask before helping those around you. According to Hobica, here’s the details:

You might only have 15 or 20 seconds in the event of a cabin decompression, during which all oxygen would be sucked out of the plane (and your lungs), before you’d experience confusion and a euphoric “stoned” state… In 30 to 45 seconds you’d probably pass out. So it’s important to act quickly.

Dimmed Lights Upon Landing
If you’re wondering why airlines dim the cabin lights before takeoffs and landings, here’s the scoop from Hobica:

You guessed it: to help adjust your eyes to the dark (either inside a smoke filled cabin or on a darkened runway).

Shoes On Upon Landing
Some airlines ask that passengers keep shoes on when landing — except for high heels, which can tear the emergency slide. Hobica explains why:

Because the runway might be burning hot after you jump down the slide.

The Proper Brace Position
Those safety cards in the seat back pocket that all flight attendants ask you to read detail the proper position to brace yourself in if a crash should occur. Look closely and notice each drawing shows one hand over the other. Here’s why:

Should something fall on you during a crash landing, you want to protect at least one hand (preferably the one you write with) because you’ll need it to unbuckle your seat belt when it’s safe to do so. Your other hand is in that position to provide some protection to your “strong” hand, which will be doing the unbuckling.

Hobica came up with the tips with some help from a Flight Safety Awareness Course by British Airways. While it’s not likely these details will be added to safety speeches (we’ll thank the flight attendants for keeping things succinct), it’s clear that a lot of thought has actually gone behind making each of the safety tips short but sweet.