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How to Survive a Plane Crash

FAA's Tips for Air Travelers

Forget Your Baggage

If you've got to evacuate a plane, don't try to take anything with you, says Corbett.

"If it's something that's really important to you, stick it in your pocket [or a waist pack] so your arms are free."

Items may get in the way of other passengers trying to evacuate or slow you down. "You might get stuck on that plane with your luggage," says Corbett.

Exit Row Responsibility

Passengers sitting in an exit row get extra responsibility and should pay special attention to flight attendants' briefings, says Corbett.

"Rather than taking an exit row because it gives us a little bit more leg room, I would sure like passengers who request those rows to realize that they're also accepting responsibility when they say 'yes, I know I'm sitting here' and 'yes, I agree' to whatever the flight attendant happens to be saying to them."

To Help or Not?

If the oxygen mask drops down, put it on yourself before helping someone else.

"In the worst of conditions, the occupants would only have about 10 seconds before they would actually become unconscious," says Corbett. "Obviously, if you're responsible for someone else, then you need to take care of yourself first and then take care of the other person. Otherwise, neither one of you will be taken care of."

Beyond that, it's up to each passenger to decide for themselves whether to stop and help others. "That's a personal decision ... a moral issue that the FAA doesn't have rules about," says Corbett.

Crashes Are Rare

“Flying the friendly skies is, I believe, the safest mode of travel," says Corbett.

"That doesn't mean we should take it lightly and that we shouldn't be prepared. Don't let it scare you. Just have a plan," she says.

There are more plane evacuations than people realize. "They don't all end in an aircraft burning up. There are a lot of precautionary evacuations, to the tune of about one every 11 days [in the U.S.], I believe that's what the latest statistic is," says Corbett.

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