Why No One Should Swap Seats on a Plane – You board yet another long-haul flight and look for your seat. “26B – here we are!” You look down to see two husky dudes sitting in 26A and C. “Oh boy…” Hmm… There are plenty of empty seats around… “Time to switch places!” But not so fast! You could put the whole plane at risk!
First, you probably aren’t the only one looking to pull the ol’ switcharoo. Even if just a few passengers do it, they could throw the plane off balance! And since most aircraft are incredibly sensitive to changes in their center of gravity, it can lead to dramatic consequences.
During takeoff, pilots must know the distribution of weight on the plane to make exact calculations. If these calculations are off even the slightest, there are chances that the aircraft can crash while leaving the ground. But even if the worst doesn’t happen, pilots can still have serious problems controlling the plane after passengers change their seats without informing the crew.
For example, one pilot could hardly get the plane in the needed position after just 4 passengers left their assigned seats and moved themselves to the front of the cabin. The situation was critical because the runway at that particular airport was unusually short. If something had gone wrong, the plane wouldn’t have been able to stop!
By the way, if the airport staff load baggage incorrectly, for example, in the rear compartment instead of the front one, it can also mess with the plane’s balance. In this case, the aircraft’s nose can pitch up too fast. You might think that would only help get the plane up in the air, but an inexact takeoff can be an incredibly dangerous situation!In any case, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your seat on the plane at all.
But before nestling in a more comfortable or spacious spot, ask a cabin crew member if you’re allowed to do so. And don’t be surprised or offended if they say no! The “No Seat-Hopping” rule isn’t the only one you should follow to have a safe flight. Here are some others you’ll need to keep in mind on your next trip at 30,000 feet! And if you can add anything to the list, then leave your suggestions down in the comments!
– Always secure your tray table as soon as the plane starts moving on the tarmac, and never lower it during takeoff and landing. It’s a security measure that ensures you and other passengers will have a clear path in case of an emergency evacuation.
– Keep your seat in an upright position during takeoff and landing. Like a lowered tray table, a reclined seat can seriously slow down an evacuation since it’ll block the person sitting behind you. Not to mention, if your seat is leaning back, it’ll be nearly impossible for that person to get into the brace position during a crash landing.
– If you have a choice when booking a flight, go for a larger aircraft. Planes with more than 30 seats are designed and certified under even stricter regulations. If you’re on a larger aircraft, you have higher chances of surviving a possible accident.
– Remember that sitting near an emergency exit means not only more leg room but also more responsibility. You’ll have to help other passengers evacuate the plane. That’s why only able-bodied adults can occupy such seats. On top of that, they absolutely must read emergency exit safety cards to know how to act if something goes wrong.
– Follow cabin crew instructions to open window shades during takeoff and landing. This way, flight attendants can see what’s happening outside, assess the situation, and act fast in case something out there tells them that an evacuation will be needed. For example, smoke or fire might be coming from one of the engines. And if there’s a fire outside one exit, they’ll know to redirect passengers toward another door.
– Fly non-stop without connections if you can. An overwhelming majority of plane crashes happen during the first 3 and last 8 minutes of the flight. In other words, that’s during takeoff, climb, descent, and landing. If there isn’t a staggering difference in price, fly non-stop. This way, you can not only shorten the duration of your trip but also cut the risk of getting into an accident during those especially dangerous moments.
– Anything can happen during a flight. Make sure all the gadgets you’re traveling with have backup files on a separate hard-drive or in the cloud. Assume that you might lose your electronic device at some point during your trip.
– Wearing proper clothing will reduce your risks during air travel. Try to wear clothes made of natural fibers such as wool, cotton, leather, and denim. They’ll protect you the best if there’s a fire or evacuation. As for synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, they melt easily when heated. Your clothes should also be comfortable and loose, you should be able to move freely in them.
Opt for long sleeves and pants, they’ll cover as much of your body as possible and provide warmth and protection if need be. And finally, pay attention to your footwear. No high heels, flip-flops, or sandals: you’ll be asked to remove them before you leave the plane via an escape slide. That’ll just slow down your evacuation and put you at risk of cutting your feet on metal debris or broken glass.
– Don’t panic or complain when the cabin lights get dimmed before a nighttime takeoff and landing. It’s a standard safety procedure that allows your eyes to adjust faster if there’s an emergency evacuation. Imagine it this way: you’re in a bright room crammed with different objects.
Someone suddenly switches off the light and tells you to get out of this room as fast as you can. You’d probably struggle, right? But if your eyes have already adjusted to the dimness, then you’ll be able to spot exit signs and emergency lights in the aisle when the cabin fills with smoke or the power goes out.
– Listen to cabin crew instructions attentively. Always remember that these people are there for your safety. So if one of them asks you to do something, obey first and ask questions later. Also, never pour hot drinks like coffee or tea on your own. Flight attendants are trained to handle this task in the tiny crowded aisles of a moving airplane without accidentally burning you or other passengers!
– Prepare a “run kit” and make sure it’s with you at all times. Such a kit should contain your passport, wallet, cell phone, credit cards and cash, any necessary medications, and a list of emergency contacts. Most of these things are difficult to replace if you lose them in the hustle and bustle of an evacuation.
So keep them on your person through the whole flight, like in your pocket or a fanny pack. As for your purse or that carry-on bag full of clothes and personal hygiene stuff, leave it! Remember that during an evacuation, you have a mere 90 seconds to leave the aircraft.
– Don’t stuff heavy objects into overhead lockers. They can fall out during severe turbulence and injure you or other passengers. If it feels difficult to lift something into the overhead bin, better store it under the seat in front of you or elsewhere.
– The people sitting near the emergency exits might be obligated to read the safety instructions in the seat pack in front of them, but you better too! Plane layouts are vastly different, so you must know the main points about the one you’re on. If worse comes to worst, this knowledge may save your life. For the same reason, always listen to and watch the pre-flight safety briefing.
– If you see some suspicious activity or strange-looking packages, immediately inform the cabin crew or a security officer. Chances are that it’s nothing to worry about, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
– It might be a waste of time to look for the safest seat on the plane because it probably doesn’t exist. Even if you’re near an exit, it may not be functioning after an accident. And while an aisle seat can provide you with a speedier evacuation should something happen,you may also be hurt by objects falling from overhead bins. Well that gets me all excited about flying. Seriously, think of it this way. The more prepared you are for something, the less likely it is to happen. I just made that up. Sound good?