Guest post: How to survive a plane crash

This is a guest post written by my wife and travel partner. She takes many of the photos that I show on MilesQuest and also books all of our reward travel. As the mother of our three small children, she felt it was important to discuss something we’ve all probably overlooked – what to do in case of a plane crash.

According to recent articles, British Airways is planning to offer a course on how to survive a plane crash! The information has been in several newspapers and online magazines, however I have called several U.S. based agents and even the UK based agents and they don’t know anything about this course. I have some calls in at the head office and I will post an update when I learn more.

Meanwhile here are some Tips for Flying and Crash Safety:
1. Clothing and Shoes-Although heels may look nice and be more professional for arrival at your destination they can puncture the inflatable emergency slides. If you do wear heels, take them off before using the inflatable slide otherwise passengers behind you won’t be too happy! Also, if you see footage of crash survivors they are often freezing, long pants and long sleeve shirts, even a jacket stowed close is a good idea. Always get your coat before landing. (First and Business Class-the flight attendants usually bring your stowed coats around to all passengers.)

2. In my opinion the most important decision is at booking. Consider where your seat is in relation to an exit. Often people survive impact but then die from smoke inhalation or burns, so you want to be close to the exit. I see mixed results on whether the back of the plane or the front of the plane is safer.

3. Pay attention to the safety message, those of us who fly frequently get pretty jaded to the inflight instruction, but it would be good to take note of the type of plane and features every so often.

4. Wear your seatbelt all the time, even turbulence can cause injury, and it probably doesn’t need to be said to the frequent long haul traveler but keep your buckle outside of your blanket if you are going to sleep so the flight attendant doesn’t have to wake you up to check your seatbelt. If you hit unexpected turbulence, you really can get a head injury by slamming into the overhead bins.

5. The brace position has proven to be effective in a crash, however most people don’t think to put their hands on the back of their head and neck not the crown, if your hands are on your crown and hit the seat in front of you on impact you will have many broken fingers. Don’t lace your fingers either, more likely to have broken fingers.

6. Lap infants-The old policy was to put your infant on the floor of the seat in front of you—“yeah right who is going to do that?” It has now been changed to hold them with one arm and use the other arm to protect their head. Some airlines have an attachment safety belt, but the United States actually thinks this is more dangerous and does not allow them. Of course, having them in their own seat would be the most safe. I was in an emergency situation with two children and a lap infant flying alone. In my mind I realized that there was no way I could handle all three of my children in an emergency situation.

We even had a flyby from the US Air force to get a visual on the plane while we were airborne, My son saw the fighter jet outside our window. I had to play it cool, all the while making a plan in my head how to protect all three, and hoping for a good Samaritan if we indeed had a crash landing. We did land safely escorted in by two fighter jets and greeted by fire trucks spraying the plane and countless police and security cars.

7. I admit that I have never really checked to see if I have a floatation device under my seat or if my seat could be used as a floatation device. If you watch footage of the Miracle on the Hudson you will note that almost none of the passengers actually brought their life vests or seat cushions with them!

8. Interesting to note- Although red universally means STOP, red lights are used as emergency lights in the aisle of airplanes because red is easier to see in smoke. It has been reported that the biggest delay in evacuation of an aircraft is people trying to get personal belongings. So in the event of an emergency- Really leave your stuff behind, people first.


  1. Clothing and shoes: it is best to wear natural materials such as cotton. Synthetic materials will melt and wreak havoc with your skin.
    Shoes: flipflops and other kinds of slippers are not great choices when having to run through burning jet fuel.

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