Smoke poured into the airplane cabin and activity came to a screeching halt. As the captain yelled “Evacuate! Evacuate!” passengers did what comes naturally: They froze.
The “emergency,” staged with theatrical smoke in a full-motion airline cabin simulator, was part of an unusual British Airways safety course. Sixteen travelers from some of the airline’s top corporate customers and its advertising agency practiced jumping down evacuation slides, opening heavy airplane doors and scampering out smoke-filled crashed cabins. They also learned simple tips that could save lives.
It seems odd that an airline would want to train people to deal with catastrophe, but British Airways believes the course engenders customer loyalty and helps calm nervous fliers. The airline plans to open up the course, which costs about $210, to individual travelers next year, possibly letting passengers redeem frequent-flier miles to attend. About 11,000 people have gone through the class so far.
Bob Frank may not approve of this one:
“We teach people to react faster than anyone else so they are in the aisle first and down the slide first,” said Andy Clubb, a British Airways flight-attendant trainer who conceived of and runs the passenger course.
On the brighter side:
… it’s not simply survival of the fittest. Other passengers seeing someone react positively will quickly follow, and the prepared passengers become leaders, making the entire evacuation faster.
The article itself passes along some tips. For the pointer I thank Kurt Busboom.