TripAdvisor Says People Watch Safety Briefings; I Call Bullshit

TripAdvisor put out the results of a study yesterday regarding airplane safety. I’m sure it was spurred by the US Airways accident last week, and I have to say that the results seem absolutely, completely wrong. No BullshitIt may not be their fault – some people may want to say they’re safety-conscious after seeing an accident like we saw last week, but they must be lying.

Here are some of the findings:

30% say they always pay attention to the safety briefing and another 38% often do
Are you kidding me? There’s no way. Most people are reading magazines, squeezing in a last phone call, yelling at their children, or sleeping. I actually do pay attention every time (’cause I’m anal like that), and I rarely see anyone else watching unless the flight attendant happens to be hot.

Of those who don’t pay attention, 81% say it’s because they already know it
This is bull . . . oh wait, I believe this. I think most people who fly frequently do feel they know it by heart, so they don’t bother to pay attention. But even if you know it, this is a great opportunity to review. Different types of planes have different types of doors, so you should brush up on knowing which type you’ll need to use to run screaming from the plane. Also, it reminds you to check where your oxygen mask comes from, and it shows you how to put a seatbelt on. Tough one, I know.

50% have read the safety card
Um, ok. I’ll believe that 50% have read it at some point. But those cards are just so boring and hard to read that I think most people gloss over it. If only others took the approach that Sun Country takes. Something tells me that Ryanair has more luck since they post the card on the seatback in front of you so you can’t avoid it.

73% say they always check the location of exits and another 20% often check
Seriously? I believe that people may make a mental note of where they came in, but I bet most people forget to look if the nearest exit is behind them (as the safety briefing would remind you). Also, I bet very few people are as detailed as I am and actually count the number of rows forward and backward to the nearest exit. If you go down, there may not be any lights or even worse, there may be a bunch of smoke. That prevents you from seeing anything, so if you count, you can easily find your way.

75% say they would know what to do in a water landing
Ok, I believe that most people think they know what to do, but I bet most people wouldn’t do it right. I bet most people would pop the first exit they saw even if it’s submerged under water. Not such a good plan.

91% always keep their seatbelt fastened
Again, really? I can’t tell you how often I see people with their belts off. I’m a freak about this one too, because if you’ve got your belt on, turbulence won’t be able to smash your face into the ceiling. If it’s off, well, all bets are off.

So I guess I’m not blaming TripAdvisor here for trying, but people lie a lot. Just because they say something doesn’t mean it’s true, and on most of these results, I’d bet that’s exactly the case. I will bet that after the US Airways accident, there will be a temporary increase in the number of people who pay attention, but as usual, that will fade away.

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39 Comments on "TripAdvisor Says People Watch Safety Briefings; I Call Bullshit"

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Skinny
Guest
I actually took the survey this weekend when I received it from TA. I got a chuckle out of it, but I’m one of the 81% who “already know it.” I’m also one of the 73% who know where the exits are, mainly because out of boredom I’m looking around and see where an exit is. And yes, I do always keep my seatbelt fastened, very loosely, but fastened. Last month I was flying from EWR to CUN on CO and got thrown around pretty good when I was up to get something out of the overhead compartment. Reminded me… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
I’ve learned something new to do already the next time I fly. Previously I would only look to guage my distance from the nearest exit but never actually counted the rows. I’ll do that now. Something else I do is check under the seat or compartment to find and confirm the location and existence of a life vest. Life vests are very different from one airline to the next so if that is part of the “song-and-dance” I definitely pay attention to this part. If the buckle gives me or someone else trouble I also know how to unhook it… Read more »
Greg Wesson
Guest
I will admit to not paying attention, mostly because the information they give is not very relevant. How to put on your seatbelt? We are already taxiing away from the gate, which means all the FAs have already confirmed everyone is belted up. And once I saw how to inflate a life vest or put on my oxygen mask a couple times, I got it. One thing I do, after seeing it on a TV show, is figure out where the exits are. On the advice of the expert on the show, he suggested counting the seat backs between you… Read more »
A
Guest
When I heard the results of this survey I thought the same thing. I usually never pay attention to the safety briefing, going with the attitude that it hasn’t changed since I was a kid. My opinion is that in a panic situation nobody is going to remember a couple minute briefing on seatbelt operation, oxygen mask, etc. I wonder how many parents would really secure their oxygen mask before assisting their children? Seriously, we are all required to go through extensive training and testing to drive a car and just look at what people do on the road every… Read more »
james
Guest

Something I notice is how many people kick off their shoes prior to take off. If you come to a violent stop your shoes are not going to be under your seat, and it will make a rapid chaotic deplanement even more unpleasant.

I take off my shoes intermittently during cruise, but wouldn’t think of it during takeoff or landing.

Or on a related note wearing sandals or Crocs isn’t your best bet for safety either.

John M.
Guest

I do all those things but I used to be in the Air Force.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

Domestic – Shoes on.

International – Shoes off. But only after a long shower and not a long day! And even then, they go in the overhead so they don’t get underfoot or become Size 14 projectiles!

Skinny
Guest
Cranky – There is a spot on their website where you can sign up to take travel surveys and when they become available you get them in your email. I’d say I get one every two months or so and they are typically very event oriented (i.e. a couple months ago I got one asking if high gas prices had an impact on my travel schedule, etc.). Now, I don’t know if they send the survey to their entire list, or only certain groupings (as I know I do surveys for HarrisPoll also, as does my wife, and its a… Read more »
Ntetlow
Member
Just out of politeness and respect for the cabin staff that have to stand up there and give their safety speech, I shut up even if I’m talking to someone, and usually I am. I have also in the past politely asked loud talking individuals, who appear to love the sound of their own voices to ‘keep their voices down as I cannot hear what the cabin staff are talking about’ and this tends to shut them up in nano-second. Yes I fly allot, and yes I think that I know what I would do in the case of an… Read more »
Tucano Bandeirante
Guest
Wow! I guess I’m a geek, because: I ALWAYS pay attention to the safety briefing; I read the safety card – since my daughter likes to play with it; I always count seats and know exactly how many seats away I am from the nearest exit; I can say that before this, I would not have known what to do; and I always keep my seat belt on. I also never wear panty hose (heat melts them to the skin), I always wear closed toe, low heel shoes and socks (even in summer), pants and sleeves. This accident makes me… Read more »
jarvisd
Member

I mostly watch the video or demonstration for humor purposes at this point. I do check the exits but I am amused by the extent to which some of the foreign airlines in particular bend over backwards to keep you entertained.

Oh and on a recent domestic flight in Vietnam, I was in the exit row and was the only person wearing my seat belt the entire flight….

John
Guest

I do all the things that you say most people don’t do – and I always try to get the emergency exit seat because I don’t trust anyone else to stay calm.

Mind you I’ve only flown 12 times so it’s still a big deal to me – maybe people who fly a lot become blase.

Steve
Guest
I disagree: I guarantee you that at least that percentage check out the Exit Rows…. not because of safety issues, but because they covet all that leg room and wonder how in the heck THEY can get those rows. Of course I have been in exit rows with physically disabled passengers who cannot get enough breath to sit down, much less hoist a hefty 40 pound door. I always point this out to the flight attendant and am immediately branded “The bad guy” or “the guy who is causing trouble” or WORSE YET I get ignored by the flight attendant.… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

Another thing I occasionally do is push gently on the panel holding the oxygen masks to find it, make sure it’s secured (no surprise deployments) and to see how far I may or may not have to reach to get one (headroom variations based on aircraft as well as distance to the mask if in the middle section of a widebody).

David SF eastbay
Member
If it’s a plane that has the F.A. standing up and giving the briefing I always watch as I feel no one else is and I want them to feel like someone cares to watch. Sadly I’ve had F.A. stare right at me was they give the briefing which makes me think they see I’m the only one paying attention. If it’s a plane with a video briefing I will watch that also. I always wear good solid shoes and long pants when I fly. You never know when something bad might happen and I want shoes and long pants… Read more »
Benji
Guest

i think you’re being too negative… i think a lot of people do do this stuff… and of course they also know they should…

besides, you know that you can’t talk on the phone when the aircraft door is closed and the plane is taxiing for takeoff ;)

David M
Guest

I was on an American Eagle ERJ-140 last Friday, the day after the US Airways accident, and the couple sitting across the aisle from me were talking through the entire safety briefing.

And I try to pay attention because there are so many variations. On the ERJ, for example, the oxygen masks drop out in a retainer clip, so you have to remove them from the clip before putting them on. Even trickier is the Saab 340, where you have to connect the plastic tube to the oxygen system.

Nick Barnard
Member
I do pay attention to the safety briefing. (Although once I snickered at the instructions on how to buckle the seat belts, and got informed that yes people have had trouble with it in emergencies.) I do review the card and the general operation of the exits. But, I don’t count seats.. So here is my question, why should i have to count seats? The airline knows where the seats are in relation to the exits, why aren’t these instructions placed in each row, perhaps on the back of the tray table, where you’ll be looking intently as you’re preparing… Read more »
Danielle
Guest
As a FA who does the song and dance multiple times each week, I have to say that no, most people are not paying attention. Checking out my boots, yes, listening, no. And talking loudly is not allowed. I wish I could write my own safety briefing because I’d scare the shoes and seat belts back on my passengers! If I could design the Safety Information Cards, I’d include the reasons why we have our rules. People with their backpacks, laptops, smelly shoes and little dogs fail to realize if we evacuate, it will be done on the ground and… Read more »
Thomas
Guest
I think the wrong question is being asked (or suggested here). Rather than come up with statistics on how many actually listen to briefing, perhaps we should be asking if the briefing is relevant. As someone has already commented – by the time the F/A is telling everyone how to put on a seat belt, everyone has already done so. Some airline’s videos give information on how to stow your carry-on. – but since you are usually taxing towards the runway it doesn’t make sense. Information on seat-belts / carry-on should be given before you board. A video on a… Read more »
frank S
Guest

OK…………ALL YOU FREQUENT FLYERS.

Which way does the DOOR handle rotate on the BOEING exit door? That would be helpful in smoke or darkness!
How about the AIRBUS? or the MCDONNELL DOUGLAS? They ALL operate differently!!!

Where’s the SLIDE inflation HANDLE on all these aircraft? Again, they are located in different areas. Care to read the CARD while you’re breathing in SMOKE?
MOST passengers overlook information that could save their lives!

Nick Barnard
Member

Danielle, thank you for going through the operational details, I had not fully thought through everything, but it still should be possible somehow. The reason I gave my suggestion is even if I counted this at the beginning of the flight, I’d probably forget. Sorry but keeping a number like that in my head just won’t happen reliably.

I would actually expect the airlines to be against this because it is a little too much of a notice of crashing… but it would be useful.

Andy Siegel
Guest
People are – and will always be – people. Some folks dutifully buckle up every time they enter the car – and some don’t. Some folks check each smoke detector in their house frequently – and some don’t. Those who don’t will eventually lose. My job is to stay alive, and I take that job seriously. I memorize the location of the exits on each flight (I close my eyes and visualize myself running to them, opening them, and thinking about what I’ll be leaping into). I ALWAYS check under the seat for the life vest. I’m not concerned about… Read more »
Steve
Guest
Has anyone ever seen a safety demonstration on Southwest? FREQUENTLY the flight attendants ADLIB this, so that it does not become so rote. And I guarantee you that people start to listen up when the start to hear things that are entertaining yet informative. Southwest FAs go above and beyond, and my hat is off to them. I have heard “Unless you have Scuba gear that will not fit in the overhead rack” I suggest you listen to me. LISTEN TO ME! (as a school teacher did in 3rd grade). It is hilarious, and people get the point.
Wes
Guest

One of my favorites heard on WN is: “If you have children around you, or someone acting like a child, secure your own oxygen mask first and then assist others.”

Almost every time I chuckle to myself as I look around and make mental note of those “adults” who are almost certain to turn into a helpless 5 year old should something happen.

Greg Wesson
Guest
Frank S – I agree this is valuable information. However, I have NEVER heard that information in the general safety briefing that is given by the airlines. I am not disagreeing with you that this is information that we should have, but rather pointing out that this is information that the airlines don’t give us under their current safety briefings. Danielle – you are so right. The reason (in my mind) that people don’t pay attention to the safety briefing is because it is pointless and toothless. I think that the travelling public, both the frequent and infrequent fliers would… Read more »
Danielle
Guest
Obviously, my Cranky Fliers give a damn about survival. Thank you. Although I am bound by company standards with my demo, I do spice it up and mix it up, much to my frequent fliers’ delight. This impromptu performance does not help our boneheads understand the reality of possible emergencies. Parents allow their “lap children” to stand in their laps during take-off roll and climb out even though I have quietly explained the dangers of doing so. Vice President of the Jerk Dept. will have his finger on the start button of his laptop when the primary concern is to… Read more »
Ntetlow
Member

Right on Danielle

The Global Traveller
Guest

Cranky I agree. The survey results do not come close to matching my observations of fellow passengers.

Benji
Guest
Danielle, to add to the agreement, great comment. I was on a Northwest flight recently and one of the passengers didn’t take off his iPod on the first announcement as we went for landing. The FA told him again and waited to watch him turn it off and stow it. He effectively challenged her about it, asking how an iPod could interfere with landing. She gave a short explanation and also said she could levy a fine on him for using electronics at that point. It was a little aggressive, but I have to feel for her. People whipping out… Read more »
Benji
Guest

PS: Cranky, the numbers-on-traytables comment got me thinking… you should have another little brainstorming session (call it a contest if you think it’ll increase participation) about how to improve passenger education and safety on board… I think that’ll go over well with the FAA or any decent airline (ie, Southwest, Continental, Delta, Jetblue).

Danielle
Guest
Benji- I have never had to threaten to fine or arrest anyone, but I use my years of bartending experience to my advantage to put a pax in their place with a sweet smile on my face. I wonder where people like iPod idiots blog about their travels? I’d like to open a question and answer forum so I can explain to iPod that during critical phases of flight, we require all distractions be shut down so you can hear my instructions in case of emergency rather than being lost in a techno trance. I am amazed how people sleep… Read more »
Benji
Guest

Danielle, oh, I didn’t know the background on that, and I consider myself a plane nerd! See, we all have something interesting to learn from y’all :)

Sturgeon1
Guest
Great comments. Being a pilot for 38 years and watching the landing in the Hudson certainly made me cheer for the pilot. Having had an emergency landing and surviving makes me have great respect for the pilot who landed on the Hudson. Glad to see that people keep their seat belts fastened because of turbulence. I have had aircraft on their sides in turbulence. Glad to see people with lifevests on in the Hudson River evacuation. I had one of my students steal a life vest from under the seat. So check to make sure its there during the briefing.… Read more »
frank S
Guest
Greg Wesson January 23rd, 2009 at 4:47 pm Frank S – I agree this is valuable information. However, I have NEVER heard that information in the general safety briefing that is given by the airlines. I am not disagreeing with you that this is information that we should have, but rather pointing out that this is information that the airlines don’t give us under their current safety briefings. =============================================== ROTATING the handle in the correct direction IS ON THE SAFETY CARD. Also, HOW AND WHERE TO PULL THE INFLATION HANDLE is, again, ON THE SAFETY CARD!!!!! The information, we give… Read more »
New York City guided tours
Guest

Its pretty simple – the TripAdvisor community is not representative of the flying public. TripAdvisor users are mainly those who research their hotels. That would be families and businesspeople.

Looking around my gate (right now), I see a) International travelers speaking mainly Spanish, b) college kids off somewhere for the weekend, c) families looking like they are off to visit Grandma and Grandpa and d) Grandma and Grandpa.

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