an airplane with an exit sign

Should It Become Criminal To Take Carry On’s During Flight Emergencies?

This week a British Airways flight made the news after the plane filled with smoke on approach to Valencia, Spain. In the end, all passengers disembarked safely without any sustained injuries and life went on. But, thanks to a few passengers, that potentially could not have been the case, had the situation on board been more dire. These passengers prioritised their bags over others lives.

If things had been more dire, every second would have mattered, and people could have literally died because of selfish other passengers who prioritise their personal belongings over other passengers lives.

This flight was just one of 1000’s of instances where passengers have ignored the rules, ignored the warnings and taken time to bring their bags with them. It’s lead to a new petition making the rounds in the UK, which if enough signatures are gained would bring a vote on whether this should become a criminal offence. In my opinion, it absolutely should be.

an airplane with an exit signA petition launched today on the House of Parliament website and already has 4,000 signatures. With hope, it will soon have many more. The new petition focuses on one simple and important concept: criminalising people who put others at risk from an aircraft evacuation by taking carry on items with them. The petition is quite literally titled…

Make it an offence to take hand luggage in an aircraft emergency evacuation.

A wise pilot once told me that his best flight tip is to always leave your shoes on until 15 minutes after a successful take off, and to always have them on 15 minutes prior to landing. This is for the obvious reason that if the plane must be evacuated during these crucial periods of flight, you need to be able to move, fast, and you don’t want to be barefoot in case there’s anything sharp.

Sunset aerial view through airplane window over wings. Flying at sunset and looking out of the window and enjoying the panoramic view. Travel and transportation conceptsIn an emergency, cabin crews always repeatedly tell people to leave their belongings, because some of the worst aviation incidents outcomes are about a matter of seconds. If a plane is on fire, there are crucial seconds before many people could die. If someone reaches up into the overhead bin to grab their things so that they can look great on TV, it could be the difference in time of me, you, or anyone you love making it off the plane in time or not. In the “miracle on the Hudson”, there were precious seconds before the plane would begin to sink.

Can you imagine if someone, perhaps you, or your most beloved friend had died because someone on that plane chose to get their bags out?

If you value your life, or the lives of anyone flying, I think that this bill has real merit. If someone chooses their Netflix or their favourite dress shirt over someones life, and carry it out of the aircraft via the emergency slides, they should be prosecuted. You can sign the petition here

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. It is a selfish, foolish and it should be a criminal act to delay the evacuation of an aircraft. We do and ought to impose criminal sanctions on those who put others needlessly at risk.

    No matter how important you think that your personal items are, it is more important to evacuate an aircraft quickly and allow others to do the same.

    In an emergency, seconds count.

  2. Absolutely correct. In the interim, BA should institute a lifetime ban on the passengers that were recorded doing this. For that matter, every airline should match that ban.

  3. I wear cargoes on planes. Ticket, I’d, phone, keys and medication all fit in the pockets. No need to reach for anything.

  4. Absolutely support it. My biggest complaint is carry ons. Airlines charge for my checked baggage when they should charge the 25.00 for each carry ons. (we obviously need to define what “1 carry on” means) Delays to board and deplane, damage to overheads and numerous arguments could be avoided if people had to 1)pay for the 2 bags, purse, laptop case and a Duty Free bag being dragged onto a plane and 2) enforce the size restrictions. ie: If all your crap can’t fit in the little cage they have at the gate – you have to check all your crap at the gate. The flyer still has control of their crap to avoid the baggage handler and I don’t have to get hit on the head and shoulders with peoples baggage while they walk down the isle.

    Airlines will make a few bucks, planes will leave on time more often – faster to exit without having to wait on a 290 pound woman try to get her 50 pound bag, purse, duty free bag and laptop down an isle, far fewer arguments and less damage to overheads causing further delays because the latch is broken from shoving a 50 pound duffle bag into a spot made for a 10 pound duffle bag.

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