Sunday, July 12, 2009

In other words: save yourselves

Have you ever sat at the seats right by the emergency exits of a plane?. I have, several times. But never did I get an experience like what I witnessed on our flight back home from Surabaya.

We sat right behind the seats by one of the emergency windows. My husband was already busy reading, and I was just busy covering myself with my shawl. Then, a commotion happened.

A couple just walked in, and apparently, they were supposed to sit on the two seats left by the emergency exits in front of us. The stewardess, rather than letting them sat on their seats, asked my husband and a man beside him to switch seats with this couple. The reason: a woman is not supposed to seat by these exits. At that point I thought, how thoughtful (though I also wondered, didn’t the person at the check-in counter know about this rule and hence, should have not given these seats to any woman at all?. Anyway…this is Indonesia, anything can, or cannot, happen).

Without arguing, my husband and the man beside him switched seats. And about 2 minutes after they were seated, the same stewardess came and briefed them about: how to open the windows (“There is ‘that’ handle to pull and then push so it can open”), what signs to watch for before the windows can be opened (“Watch out for any signs of fire, smoke, no obstructions in front of it, and make sure it is safe to open”), there are slides outside the windows (“There are slides outside the window that will automatically inflate in emergency situation once the windows are opened”), where their life vests are located (“Your life vests are under your seat, make sure you know how it works, and only inflate it once you are out of the windows”), how to get out of the window (“Get one of your feet out first then your head”), and finally, a safety information card to read (“There is a safety information card in front of you, please read it carefully”). All that, in less than three minutes, then she walked away.

I watched her, and watched the expression of a man sitting by the emergency window on the other side. During all her talks, that man’s expression grew from: staring at her, then his forehead formed some curves, and more and more and more curves until she finished and his lips began to form an ugly inverted U curve.

I was not sure what he was thinking (and I did not dare asking, he looked very angry, or maybe he was actually very worried…not sure). But, I personally thought, OK, all that in three minutes and you think you are off the hook if anything happens, lady?. Even if the stewardess has to brief passengers sitting by the emergency exits, I don’t think a less than three minutes briefing will help anyone to remember what he has to do, especially in emergency situations (and mind you, no Q&A after the brief briefing, meaning, no checking if these 6 clueless men actually understood all that she said, pity them with the heavy burden on their shoulders). As for me, once she finished and walked away, I prayed, even harder than usual (cause I actually hate flying), that nothing would happen to our flight.

For the sake of my safety in the face of law, to not be seen as tainting one’s image (if you do not live in Indonesia, it is a trend nowadays to sue anyone saying anything on public media that can be perceived to damage one’s image – a person or company), I will not tell you which airline it was. But, maybe you must make sure you do this from now on if you are a male: ask when you check in if you are seated by any emergency exits, or you will suffer the less than 3 minutes briefing, if the airline has the same procedure like the one we were in (you never know what rule an airline has – surely each has their own peculiarities). You would not want unnecessary stress ruin your flight, either, would you? (unless you are an addict for agony).

Enjoy your flights.


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