As companies continue to inch (literally) ever closer toward greater and greater productivity, I can say that I was only mildly amused when the EasyJet flight attendant on a recent flight cajoled us into listening to the pre-flight safety announcements. As with most of us who travel a lot, we consider these announcements over the loud-speaker as an obligatory nuisance. On this particular EasyJet flight, I decided to put down what I was reading to listen. One specific part of the instructions caught my attention. Not that I am against productivity gains; nor am I against an airline wishing my safety. However, someone needs to revisit and update what must be a rather old script.
In case of emergency landing, take the customary “brace” position, by bending over, placing your head between your legs and tucking your arms around your thighs.
Not being of the circus contortionist variety, I can say that I am just about able to put my chest on my thighs, nothing more. Getting the head to tuck down neatly is a bit of a stretch. And, I am fortunate not to have a pot belly.
Brace for it
Here are the instructions as printed on the plastified sheet in front of each seat (in this case for an Airbus A319/320).
The part that galls me in this heavenly photo where, if the photo were to scale, it must be a 4-foot tall boy who is leaning over, since his head is well clear of the seat in front. As if there might be confusion, they unintentionally add salt to the wound by also showing how easy it would be the passenger in the exit seat aisle (masses of leg space) to bend over. So, the $1000 question:
How does one manage to secure that “brace” position when you are looking down at this situation below?
My knees touch the seat in front when I am sitting with my tush as far back as possible. Such instructions are intended to be scoffed at, don’t you think? Notwithstanding the miserable thought of any context where you might have to adopt the brace position for real, the obscene reality is that no one over 5 foot is going to be able to attain a reasonable brace position in any event.
Customer Experience is important…
For most airlines, customer experience is not a high priority in economy class travel. [These comments could certainly be attributed to all cattle class cabins where space has been sucked out between seats.] As they like to remind us, “safety is our top priority.” Comfort, good food (much less when you have to pay for it) and entertainment are secondary considerations. That might be acceptable if the security questions were truly answered. An appropriate customer experience, in the case of an airline, would be to feel secure. Enough with the unrealistic instructions, I say!
Here is what Lufthansa shows on its instruction sheet for a similar type of Airbus aircraft. It would be a much more reasonable representation:
After my rant against Terminal 5 at Heathrow, with this post I implore airlines: Revisit the customer experience! Since airlines have as an industry clearly let go of the frills, they still need to get the basics (i.e. safety) right. Until then, we cannot take you seriously.