People love their carry-ons more than life itself

The pictures of a burning jetliner in Las Vegas were certainly riveting. But if you can divert your attention away from the smoke and flames, you might notice something particularly startling.

People stopped during their evacuation to grab their luggage.

Authorities are certainly concerned about planes that burst into flames. But they’re really worried about why we have such a love of our luggage that we’d increase the odds we die onboard to be reunited with it?

Mariano Rosales, an air traffic controller in Chicago, writes today that the FAA requires planes to be evacuated within 90 seconds, even with half the emergency exits unusable.

What’s the big deal with grabbing one carry-on?

The evacuation drill for certification has bags, pillows, and other debris in the aisles to simulate real-world scenario, but it doesn’t include passengers carrying bags off the aircraft. Let’s say the average delay time per bag is 5 seconds. This includes the time needed to reach up to open the overhead compartment, pulling the bag down, and the extra delay hauling it through a crowded aisle. If half of the 170 people on board flight 2276 took the time to take their bag the evacuation would have taken an additional 7 MINUTES longer than necessary. Imagine being the last one to exit the smoke-filled cabin knowing that your one minute evac time is now over 7 minutes!

If you ever find yourself in an emergency and need to evacuate and airliner (and I hope none of you ever does) please do the right thing. No matter what is in your carry-on please, please leave it on board and retrieve it later after everyone is safe. Nobody wants to be in that situation, and I’d hope no one wants to know that they may have contributed to someone else being seriously injured. Or even killed.

“Absolutely selfish and pathetic,” a flight attendant told the Washington Post. “You are hindering the person on the window side from quickly evacuating. And what if they panicked and trampled you to death?

(h/t: Fareed Guyot )