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Southwest disaster proves what flight attendants fear: No one listens to safety speeches

  • Author: Craig Sailor, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Updated: April 19
  • Published April 19

Anyone who has flown on a commercial airline has heard it.

"In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you," the Federal Aviation Administration-required announcement goes. "To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally."

Judging by the passengers of Southwest Airlines flight 1380 which had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia Tuesday after one of its engines failed, killing a passenger, few are paying attention.

Debris from the engine hit a window, shattering it. The sudden decompression pulled a passenger partially out of the window. She died from her injuries.

Video and photos taken inside the plane show passengers holding the masks over their mouths, but not their noses. Many, it appeared, were not using the elastic bands.

It's no doubt chaotic and frightening during an in-air emergency. Some people may have other things on their minds.

But the incident raises the question: Is anyone listening during those speeches?

Flight crews also tell passengers to use their seat belts when seated even if the seat belt sign has been turned off. Yet, passengers are occasionally injured when planes hit turbulence so severe it throws them out of their seats.

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