Airlines Teach Passengers How to Survive a Crisis

Airplane Emergency Exit

Securing carry-on baggage, reviewing the manual, making sure the tray is locked and the seat is in the upright position are all routine tasks performed by a frequent flier when preparing for their next takeoff. For many business travelers, a plane ride is as customary as a drive into the office. But what happens when the typical flight turns into a crisis? British Airways offers a course to prepare travelers for an emergency situation, should the need arise.

Originally offered to oil company workers flying to remote locations, the course has recently become available to other frequent fliers willing to travel to London and pay $265 for the half-day class. The course focuses on developing confidence and leadership in a crisis situation by providing hands-on crash preparation procedures that allow the student to lead other passengers, or at the very least, remain calm during a critical moment in-flight. The course is so life-like that those with medical conditions such as asthma, claustrophobia or heart conditions are warned ahead of time for potential complications.

Participants begin the course inside a Boeing 737 cabin simulator, rocking back and forth for taxiing before tilting up for takeoff. Theatrical smoke begins to fill the cabin as attendants shout “Brace. Brace. Brace.”

Along with evacuation techniques and other tips, students learn the key to survival: the proper brace position. Passengers should bend forward, keep their head down, place feet flat on the floor and slide them back with hands behind the head. This position is important since commercial airline seats are specifically designed to enhance the effectiveness of bracing, boosting the planes crashworthiness to withstand impacts of up to 16Gs without buckling.

While the likelihood that the skills learned in this simulation will ever be put into action remains low, having a tool kit to fall back on should the situation present itself can certainly foster some confidence for any traveler.