How frequently do you think about what you put on the line every time you travel? Probably not often, because doing anything as remarkable as zipping 30,000 feet into the stratosphere inside a metal tube with wings over and over again adapts the reality out of the experience.
Unless that reality is your keister in a seat on US Airways flight 1549 piloted by Captain C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger III on January 15, 2009. That emergency water landing in the Hudson River is the prime example of why any flight can be the flight you wished you dressed for the weather. Certainly it was a flight on which you would have wished you weren’t napping during the flight attendant’s safety presentation.
Sure, any regular business traveler has heard the safety talk dozens of times. But how many have really internalized the key lessons of that talk, e.g., how the oxygen masks pop down, how the flotation cushions pop out, and so on. Hint: The exit rows aren’t there just for the extra legroom. This is important, because, in case you haven’t thought about it, business travelers are on exponentially more flights than the typical traveler. You need to know this stuff. So do the other passengers.
That’s because the truth is, if the person next to you isn’t paying attention to the safety talk, your chances of getting off safely are exponentially reduced. You are, in the most intimate way, all in it together and in an emergency like flight 1549, you learn that quickly.
You might also suspect by now that on a flight like Sully’s you’re not taking your laptop off the plane. In fact, you’re not taking anything off the plane other than the keister that had moments before been snuggled in a chair as the in-flight movie unreeled. One report said that close to 50,000 personal items were recovered from flight 1549. All of which suggests that since no one can predict when a flight might become a soft landing in the Hudson River, they ought to be prepared with backups of prescription medicine, business data, passport, etc.
Most important, think about how well you are prepared to get yourself off the plane in an emergency. Think twice about wearing those heels or light clothes in cold weather. You’re not going on a camp-out when you fly, but flying deserves to be taken seriously. The people who dodged a bullet thanks to the crew of flight 1549 know that for certain. Flight crews always fly like their life depended on it. So should you.
Road Warrior • Miami • www.us.amadeus.com